Coach’s Corner – Achieving Your Aspirational Goals
It is said that moving a mountain is accomplished by one handful of soil at a time.
Many of my coaching clients set boldacious and aspirational goals for themselves. There’s nothing wrong with that. The challenge occurs when they consider the gap between where they are now to where they want to get to. That gap consumes their thoughts, and becomes their sole focus. When the difference is large, many give up on the aspiration, and conclude they are unachievable even before they begin.
Moving mountains is only an analogy, of course. However, the message is clear – by breaking down a seemingly insurmountable goal into smaller, manageable pieces we can achieve incredible things. Let’s review a few other useful tactics to help us achieve our aim, large or small.
I have set some bold goals myself – including summiting Mount Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania. As the highest mountain in Africa (5,895 metres above sea level), this is no easy task. Rather than get intimidated by how far I am from climbing Kilimanjaro (geographically, psychologically and physically), I focus instead on doing something small and easy to start.
My first ‘handful of soil’ is to Google “Mount Kilimanjaro.” That was easy, and easy is the key, because the first few actions should be achievable quickly to give us a sense of achievement. I read all about the flora and fauna, and how it’s a dormant volcano. That got me even more excited. Now I want to watch some YouTube videos of people climbing the mountain, and then maybe I will get myself a new pair of hiking shoes…. Similar to the wisdom shared at the beginning of this post, my conclusion is “to summit a mountain, we need to take one step at a time.”
Once we get started, maintaining momentum and continuing the journey is important. Here’s where others can help. Whether it is someone to provide a little peer pressure, to keep you accountable, to give you encouragement, or to share their knowledge so you can reduce or avoid setbacks, consider collaborating with someone in your network. This could be a family member, a coach or someone in your professional network. You don’t have to be on this journey alone.
When you’re taking one step after another towards your goal, watch out for saboteurs. One of the biggest influences holding us back from achieving our aspirations is ourselves. Let’s focus on procrastination, because this seemingly trivial saboteurs is also the most insidious. Procrastinating gives us the illusion we’re still on course – that our progress is only delayed momentarily while we focus on more urgent matters. In fact, this type of thinking affects our behaviours and mood (see my previous post on how your thoughts affect your behaviours and emotions), and results in our goals becoming less important and less urgent. Our thoughts sabotage our efforts and motivation.
There will be times when we need to re-assess our big goals, and ask for ourselves whether each is an aspirational goal or a “bucket list” item. The main difference is SMART (i.e. whether the goal is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-based). Your aspirational goals are bounded by SMART, such as “to over-achieve your sales-target by 10% this quarter, compared to same time last year.” A bucket list item (coming from things you’d love to do before you ‘kick the bucket’ or die) is not necessarily bound by SMART – they are wish list items, without a ‘dead’-line (pun intended). Also, no one’s going to keep you accountable to achieving your bucket list items.
When I consider these simple differences, I’ve had to acknowledge that Mount Kilimanjaro is more a bucket list item and something I would love to accomplish in my lifetime, than something I want to do by a certain time. When I got real with my goal, I was able to adjust and set a SMART goal that I had a chance of achieving: “Climb Mount Mauna Kea (4,207 m above sea level) in Hawaii in 2019.” Get SMART to get it done!
Let’s end with a question I hope you all can answer: What’s on your bucket list?
Check out more blog posts in this series: Coach’s Corner.