10 Jan How to: Strengths-based goal setting
For many of us, this time of the year is associated with new beginnings. The New Year starts with ‘The New You’, right? Be it a new year, month or week, these symbolical periods provide us an opportunity to look back and set the direction forward. We call these opportunities for life improvement as resolutions and there are million of books written on how to achieve them. But did you know that over 90% of people will not follow through on their intentions? Is that because they are all lazy? Not at all – the answer is means of achieving those goals.
How do we end up with goal setting in the first place? First, we identify where we stand at the moment or how we have been going lately – be it performance review or body weight. Then our ‘monkey-brains’ immediately compare the current state with the imaginary final outcome. Each of these points in time might be good in itself. But we can’t help but notice and focus on the gap between the two, right? So we think – what do we have to fix to bridge this gap? From the top of your head, they say, to lose weight one needs to do sports. So to be healthier I have to go to the gym at least 3 times a week. That’s a goal #1.
Most of the times this intuitive goal setting process takes less than a second. In fact, these goals seem to energize at the beginning. Sure, they give a certain sense of clarity, focus, and control over the situation. However, after 2 weeks the excitement disappears. Most of the time it’s because the means of achieving the goal are based on what we ‘have to do’ instead of what we ‘want to do’.
While there are numerous ways of reaching the end result, we tend to choose the paths based on what others say is the best way. No wonder – it’s a very efficient way of thinking and goal setting. If only it was not flawed. It completely disregards differences of strengths among people. In simple terms, what works for me – won’t work for you.
So what happens when you still go ahead with applying that ‘universal wisdom’ in your life? Not only it is difficult to maintain the motivation for doing what you are not interested in, you also don’t see the desired results. Can you guess what happens next? The resolution is left abandoned.
Same goes for the weight loss example. If you have never been good at sports and you don’t really enjoy doing it, you can probably do more harm than good by suddenly starting to go to the gym every day. Instead, perhaps, you love cooking. Why not investing spare time in getting those cooking skills to the next level? So fast food will never seem like an option. The result is the same – much healthier lifestyle and weight loss, while you do what you love.
To find much deeper engagement with your goals and to actually follow-through with your resolutions, here are 4 questions for enhancing the goal setting with your strengths:
What is your end objective?
It is important to understand that going to the gym is not the end goal. It’s just the means of achieving the state when you live a healthier lifestyle. This goal has many more ways of achieving it than just going to the gym.
What are your strengths?
Think about activities that make your heart beat faster. Perhaps there is something that makes you connect with the world on a much deeper level or enter into the state of flow. Or as simple as – what is a topic that you cannot help yourself from speaking about?
How can I do more of it during the next period?
As you have made the list of strengths areas – by yourself or with the help of a strengths test – now it’s time to brainstorm as many ways as possible to leverage those areas in the upcoming month, quarter or year. At this stage, don’t limit yourself and go for the bigger number of ideas, even if they are irrelevant to your end goals. We will take care of that in the next step.
How can this bring me closer to the end state I want to be in?
Now take a look at the list of brainstormed ideas through the lens of your end goals. Which of those activities can bring you closer to the end result? Double-down on them and set the strengths-based goals for these activities. If it helps, write out explicitly how doing more of what you love will bring to the desired result.
What will support my strengths-based goal setting?
Since we’re taught from the early days to fix our weaknesses, going full on your strengths might seem unusual at first, despite positive results. Hence, think about the support network you can build around you that would remind about your strengths on a frequent basis. It could be a friend or a colleague, but it can also be a visual reminder like your keychain. Whatever reminds you of what you’re great at will work!
What are your goals for 2018? How can your strengths help you reach them? Take the free HIGH5 strengths test and discover what you are naturally good at.