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How clear are your goals?

We all know the importance of goal setting and the New Year brings an influx of interest around our goals. You only have to look at LinkedIn to see all the activity!


Continually reviewing our goals ensures they are on track, still relevant and restores our focus. This is true for ourselves and those we coach/mentor.


I was talking to a former colleague and friend about the differences of being my own boss and the challenges I face in marketing myself. This interested him as one of his objectives as a partner in a law firm is to attract new business. He asked me - what was my WHY?


Referring to Simon Sinek’s book Start with WHY?


In the book there are lots of examples of organisations based on how they market themselves from a what and how perspective but not too many who connect with the WHY!

Anyone who has ever worked with me has heard me say hundreds of times, performance is based on the what and the how. I now recognise what was missing was the clarity around ‘why’. You could argue that this was assumed as part of those discussions or was it really clear to myself and others what we were focusing on?


This then got me thinking about the goals we set ourselves and others and what makes the difference between a successful outcome and those that we either don’t achieve or don’t achieve well?


Clarity and purpose what we are working towards is part of the ‘Why’. It is the anchor, the reason for doing whether this be developing a brand, or setting a personal goal. For me my WHY is the thing I go to when having a wobble and loosing focus letting that little voice in my head undermine my thinking.


Success comes when we wake up every day in that never ending pursuit of why we do what we do!. Simon Sinek, Start with Why


When working with clients the first thing we do is establish their goals. Often clients share the ‘What’ the transactional aspects of the goal as these are safe and tangible i.e. increase sales, set up team structures, effective conversations etc. I challenge them to consider their goals from the ‘how’ which are the behavioural and attitudinal aspects and the ‘Why’, the purpose, values, bigger picture, the reason for doing the ‘What and the How’. Without that final piece of the puzzle the goal would be focused on actions and steps to developing them. The ‘Why’ provides the final destination and outcomes.


Over many years I have loved sharing the ‘building a cathedral’ story. It may have been told many times but it puts the ‘What, How and Why’ into context.


A man saw some men chipping stones and was curious what they were doing. He approached the first man and asked him what he was doing. The man replied I am ‘chipping a stone’ and carried on with his work, he then approached a second man and he said ‘I am building a wall’. Further ahead he noticed another man and he stopped and asked him the same question. This time the man looked up and said ‘I am building a cathedral!’ This response has purpose and focus being part of something bigger not just chipping stones!

Think back to objectives you have been set during your careers; how many objectives were you:


· Told to do

· Focused on actions and process

· Superficial with no explanation of how this fit into the bigger picture

How motivated were you in achieving these goals? What was the outcome?

Consider, what would have been different if the goals included more of the why? What might this look like?

When creating goals for yourself or your business consider the outcomes from three perspectives:


What are you trying to achieve?

How are you going to achieve this?

Why are you doing this?


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