Some seasonal thoughts on goals and target setting

As many of us may well be already starting to struggle with keeping to our well intentioned New Year resolutions, I thought it might be useful to highlight very effective ways of helping us stick to them and become much more likely to achieve our ultimate targets or goals.

The great news is that the very same principles can also help us to achieve our goals or targets in business much more effectively, including our well intentioned safety targets!

Setting New Targets

So, lets look at our typical personal resolutions at this time of year that might well include weight loss, more exercise or even altering our eating habits. In doing so, we may also set ourselves very specific targets… lose 10 kilos, to be able to run 5 miles or to stop eating fatty foods etc.

In setting our targets, most of us will identify either a TOWARDS or an AWAY FROM motivator. For example, away from our current weight, or towards our target distance. That often feels like its the right thing to do as it focuses our minds on a very specific goal and traditionally, in sport, business and in our personal lives that is exactly what we are often encouraged to do. However, that’s the HUGE trap that many of us FALL into.

You see, if we have an AWAY FROM motivator, as soon as we start to move away from our original state then we start to feel good and we then start to justify to ourselves that we’ve achieved our goal and then it becomes easier for us to stop trying anymore. A TOWARDS motivator appears to be better then? Well no, not really because what will we do once we hit that target? Many will then start to ease off as the target no longer represents a true challenge!

Why not try, just this year, to not actually set a target at all. Or, if you must, make sure that its as vague or even abstract as possible. More geared to enjoying a lifestyle or cultural change rather than a specific target or goal.

In doing so, each and every day you will be better able to notice and pay particular attention to what your feelings, sensations and emotions are each little step of your wonderful JOURNEY. You see sometimes, if we just focus on our destination and how much we want to GET THERE then we fail to notice the wonderful little things that are happening each and every step of our journey.

Once we start to enjoy each and every step of our journey, then it becomes much more pleasurable for us and we are more likely to actually WANT to continue the journey way beyond our actual destination and on to even greater things just because we ENJOY it so much.

I’ve been purposely vague in what those great pleasures will be along the way as they will be very personal to you, but be sure to take time to notice how much better things feel each moment along the way!

That’s all very well for New Years Resolutions Darren, I hear some of you say, but what the heck has that got to do with setting Business Targets or Safety Performance Goals? Well, believe it or not, exactly the same principles apply….go on, try it, especially in a recession. Be brave and don’t actually set a specific target and make sure that you notice and if necessary celebrate every little gain or success along the way. Most importantly, make sure that your people notice those gains and of course, it’s very important to let them know that you have noticed them too.

You will find that before too long, you’ll be way past your old targets and marching on to even greater performance that will continue to grow. This happens for many unrelated reasons such as your people will actually WANT to do it that way and they will even become PROUD of doing it that way.

Now that’s often why accessing a sub-conscious goal set via METAPHOR can be so much more powerful and effective in setting targets for performance. Find out more about sub-conscious goal setting and how they can be applied in business on our IOSH Accredited Staysafe Leadership courses.


2 thoughts on “Some seasonal thoughts on goals and target setting”

  1. I always appreciate differing points of view as they help everyone challenge status quo thinking, which is the only way we truly advance. The good thing about specific, measurable goals is they allow for the motivation of witnessing visible progress towards them, a proven key motivator in work and life. The bad thing about goals is when you reach them, and, they were set for the wrong reasons. I’m not sure I can fully agree with just vague goals, yet I do see your point and understand where you are coming from. Have you read The Progress Principle?

    I would suggest first capturing why you are setting the goal? Do make it measurable, and then consider what life will be like when it is achieved. What will you do then? How will you sustain this new point or continue to build on them? As you experience the new “pleasures” as you say, does this make you feel better about your decision? What was life like before? Now what will you do to not become complacent? The problem with many who set goals, is they are not fully thought out, just a once a year exercise.

    Personally I dislike New Year’s goals because they are set to be just that, an obligatory goal set once a year. Rather, work to continuously improve yourself and set goals (vague or specific) throughout life (or work) to stretch yourself. You are responsible for you at work, home and in personal life. If you aren’t continually stretching yourself, this is your fault. It is your body, mind and life and you are responsible for making the best of it. I have just recently lost a bunch of weight over the past 4 months. I lost most of it in the first 6 weeks. Once I met my original goal, I kept stretching myself and made the decision that I wanted my life to change. Thus, I had to create new habits, purchase new tools that allow me to now measure leading indicators (E.g., calories, weight, exercise, blood pressure, resting heart rate).

    I believe in setting goals, but not just once a year, which in all I’ve read most, of those fail. Rather, continually set goals but once you reach them, either stretch yourself, or change your focus of measurements beyond the goal you reached. View that as a lagging indicator, now start measuring leading indicators so you can ensure you stay there. – Shawn M. Galloway


  2. Nick Jago Johnson

    Great blog Daz, and it all makes perfect sense.

    The thing is about goals or targets, are what do you when you get or don’t get there? It’s often a lose/lose situation. If you don’t get there you lose, and if you do you, but only in the moment. And often we revert back, or are dragged back to the status quo.

    Think more about Vision and values. The Why… And who you are going to be in the matter. Then by all means set as many targets or goals as you like within these agreed ways of being. Because targets and goals won’t be the motivator, they will come as a by product of doing the right thing, and being the change you want to see.

    Sustainable, and regularly making the impossible possible.

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