Have you ever had a goal that just didn't seem to progress? Perhaps a weight loss goal or maybe developing a new market opportunity. "What's the problem with this goal?" you wonder. Why can't you achieve it as you have so many others?

A goals program is a powerful and effective process; so, when you find a goal that seems to be forever beyond your grasp, you must ask some basic questions to get to the real issues.

1. Ask: Do I really want this goal for myself? Proper goal setting technique assumes that our goals are based on our priorities. Sometimes, however, our goals are based on other people's priorities for us or what we believe people think our priorities should be.

For example, is it really your goal to lose weight, or is it simply something you "should" do? Until it is your own goal, you won't likely accomplish it. It's not really your priority. You are not committed to it at a deep level. Other things will have greater priority in your life.

Every choice we make is based on improving our condition by gaining a benefit or avoiding a loss. An uncle of mine said he chose to be overweight and happy rather than give up food or endure exercise. A weight loss goal for him would have been meaningless because he valued his comfort more than his health.

Take a close look at your own values. You may say you value good health, but what do your actual choices show your true values to be? You may say you want to open a new territory, but do your actions support the behaviour necessary to do that?

What happens to people in your organization who take an intelligent risk and "fail"? Perhaps your organization values stability more than it does growth. Set goals based on your values. If you find these values limiting, you can choose to change them. (We are of course assuming that all values are within societal norms for ethical behaviour.) Changing a value can be a complex process but it can be done, either personally or as an organization.

2. Ask: Is this goal realistic? In our enthusiasm, we may be setting goals that are unrealistic. Either the time frame or the goal itself may not be attainable. There is a fine line between challenging yourself with a stretch goal and setting yourself up for failure. People with a high sense of urgency will challenge themselves too much, whereas complacent people don't challenge themselves enough.

When I think of a goal, I usually want it right away. After all, why would you want to delay the benefit? In previous years, January has always been extremely busy, as I've crammed a huge number of action steps into the first month. It's only been more recently that I've been able to pace the goals throughout the year. Make sure the goal itself is realistic and has a realistic pace for achievement.

3. Ask: Am I focused on this goal? You may have too many goals. I find that about 3 major goals are enough. In our eagerness to grow, it's easy to set 15, 30 or even 50 goals, depending on your need and your ambition. Focus on the critical few - perhaps two personal and two business. I have all sorts of other "wants" that I can work on, if I have time and my goals are coming along well. But my energies must be focused on the few critical goals.

4. Ask: What behaviours or attitudes must change for me to reach this goal? Obviously, something has to change. Usually, our goals are tangible, achieving some thing or experience. A tangible goal is measurable and you know for sure when you have achieved it. Examples would be achieving a certain weight or taking a vacation at a specific resort.

However, the most important goals are the intangible goals, which involve being (some type of person). To live a healthy lifestyle or have healthy attitudes are intangible goals. So is to be a peaceful person or an excellent manager. Intangible goals tend to be about building character.

To achieve our tangible goals we must often first achieve an intangible goal. This will provide the growth necessary to achieve our tangible goals. So for the stubborn goals, take a close look at how you as a person need to grow in order to achieve it.

Any time a goal appears to be continually beyond your grasp, it is time to reassess both yourself and the goal to determine where the obstacle really is. If you find the goal is worthwhile to you, is realistic and is a high priority, then focus your attention on it, identify what the real obstacles are and develop a new plan to achieve it.

For a problem corporate goal, the questions will be similar, but draw the team into the analysis. Ensure all systems within the organization support the goal or are changing to support it.

Assess your problem goal at http://www.canlead.com/goal_program_audit.htm

Author's Bio: 

Author, speaker and facilitator, Waterloo-based John Pellowe
helps corporations achieve their goals through organizational and people development. For a free catalogue of resources, or to book John to speak at your next meeting, email: mailto:info@canlead.com