The Simple Truth About Achieving Your Goals

Nothing Sweeter Than Success

Nothing Sweeter Than Success

If you want to get anywhere in this world, you need to set goals for yourself.  Pick up any business or personal development book  (I’ve picked up a lot), and each one will tell you that you need a set of goals to move forward in life.

It a concept that most of us are familiar with.  In fact, I would venture to say all of my friends and clients will tell me that they have certain goals they are working toward.  Usually it is on a professional level, but I hear about the personal ones, too.  “I want to lose weight.  I want more time with my family.  I want to go on a vacation.”  If they are talking about professional goals there is usually a common theme as well.  “I want to get more accomplished.  I want to make better use of my time.  I want to get that promotion and move to the corner office.”

So it is pretty clear that most everyone has goals of some sort.  Something they shout out at New Year’s Eve or maybe on their birthday.  Something they want to accomplish to make their lives better and give them a little satisfaction.  It doesn’t really matter what kind of goal it is.  After all, everyone has different ideas of what is important to them,  and one of the key aspects of any goal or plan is that it has to mean something to the individual.  It has to resonate on a very personal level, or it simply won’t happen.

Does everyone reach all of their goals?   If I talk to friends about something they want to accomplish and then see them a couple of months later,  I’ll ask how those goals are working out. The answer is usually rather vague.  “It’s a work in progress.”  Or,  “It’s slower than I planned.”   If I don’t see them for a year, the answer is often a variation on the same theme.

Why?  Because many people simply aren’t clear on why they want to accomplish something.

Let’s face it–having a goal is great.  It makes you feel good, and makes you feel like you are moving forward when you write it down.  For some people, it gives them something to put on a list.  But the truth is, that’s about all that you are going to do with that goal if you don’t truly know why you want to do it.

I admit I am like most people.  I set a lot of goals and put a lot of plans in action.  I would say that I accomplish about fifty percent of what I set out to do.  Now, I’m not sure where that falls in the national average, but it is lower than I would like it to be.  That is, until recently.

One of my coaches recently helped me find a way to clearly nail down which of my goals are really important to me and therefore worth pursuing.   It isn’t a long process, and doesn’t take a lot of brain power or hours of analysis.   In fact, it is just a simple phrase  tacked on to the end of the sentence when you describe what you want to achieve.


“So I can…”

Really, it’s very simple.  State your goal.  At the end of the sentence add the words “so I can…”  and then fill in the blank.

For example,  you can always say you want to lose weight   (Truth be told, most of us do).   Think about the motivational difference of these two statements.  “I want to lose weight”  and “I want to lose 15 pounds so I can have more energy to play with my kids when I get home from work and be a part of their lives everyday.”

It may just be me, but I think the second one would motivate me and keep me on track to really lose that extra weight.

Once I started to use that phrase with my goals and plans,  I quickly learned which ideas were really important to me and which ones just sounded like good ideas at the time.

Adding the phrase, “so I can” is one of the best ways I have seen to clarify the value of an idea and determine if it will really add value to my life.

Most of us set general goals with a hazy concept that our lives will be better when we achieve them.  There’s a good reason for that–it’s easier.  However,  it is twice as difficult to achieve a generalized goal as it is to achieve a specific goal since you haven’t decided why it means something to you.  It is the reason  most people give up on the majority of their resolutions.

Sometimes finding the reason isn’t as easy as it seems.  There are times when you have to lather, rinse, and repeat the process until you get to the heart of the matter.  For instance, “ I want to lose weight so I can fit back into my old pants”  probably isn’t the core of why you want to lose some weight.  If that is the only reason you give yourself, you are setting yourself up for failure.

Go deeper.  Keep asking the question until you find the thing that really means something to you.  My coach also has a phrase that makes a lot of sense to me.  She says you will know when you hit the real reason for wanting to make the change happen because “the why will make you cry.”   The reason for making any major change–and that is what a goal is, after all–is because we have a problem we want to solve.   If you don’t have a problem, there isn’t really any need to make the change, right?

Coaching tip of the week:    Think about something you have been meaning to tackle for a while but keep putting off or push to the back burner after getting frustrated with your lack of progress.  Ask yourself,  “I want to (fill in the blank) so I can (fill in the action)”   Repeat the process until  you find the reason that makes the change resonate in your core.  Once you get a laser clear idea of why you want to make that change,  I will bet dollars to donuts you will achieve that goal faster than you ever thought possible.

I’d love to know how this works for you.  Please feel free to post your thoughts and let me know your results.

Want to get clear on the “why” behind your goals?  Schedule a  free thirty minute consultation and receive a clear vision plan of how to make your goals happen.


Related posts:

Goal Digging

Reinvention as a Life Skill

The Power (and Danger) of Should




About Chris Griffin

Chris Griffin is a executive coach with a passion for wellness. He helps executives and senior management enhance their performance and their lives by pinpointing and changing self-defeating behaviors.

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2 Responses to The Simple Truth About Achieving Your Goals

  1. Kristin Barton Cuthriell June 3, 2013 at 1:05 pm #

    Great post. ” The why will make you cry.” I like that!

    • Chris Griffin June 3, 2013 at 1:26 pm #

      Thanks, Kristin! It kind of cut to the heart of the matter for me and made things a lot clearer. Looking forward to your new book.