How to think about your goals

The right mindset makes a big difference when setting goals and embarking on the journey to learn how to achieve them.

How to think about your goals

When we set goals, we often struggle with what to set for a goal...and sometimes we set goals that don't stretch us. They don't require learning or development. Those aren't goals. They're just tasks.

We do this because deep down we're afraid that the goal we're setting might not be possible.

When we give in to this fear, we are short-changing ourselves. We're reducing the opportunity and growth that is possible for our lives. And in turn reducing the impact and value we can deliver to our world, our customers, our family and friends and ourselves.

I want to show you a way of thinking about your goals that will help you achieve them and enjoy the learning process along the way.

A Guided Drawing Exercise

Here’s a simple little drawing exercise you can do. It's silly simple but powerful. You are welcome to follow along and make this drawing as I talk through it.  I've also broken it down into steps with the screenshots - if you'd like to see them, there is a link in the show notes.  

First, get a blank card or piece of paper (or do this in your favorite drawing program).

Put a picture of you on one side, in the lower left. Then in the upper right, put a little triangle that represents your goal.

Next, write out a name and brief description of your goal. Its important to be as vivid and specific as you can:

What is it specifically?

  • What does it look like, feel like?
  • How will others respond or benefit?
  • What will it be like to achieve it?

Write it out as best you can.

Next, draw some little lines or stairsteps that go from the picture of you on the left, all the way up to the picture of your goal on the right.

This represents the steps you'll take to get to your goal.

You might already know what some of these steps are.

There are probably some that you don't know yet. That's ok. You're going to learn them as you go forward!

If you want to, go ahead and write what some of these steps are. You have 2 options:  

  • Work backwards: starting at your goal on the right side of the page, ask yourself: for this goal to be achieved, what would have to be true? What would I have to have achieved in order to be within pouncing distance of achieving this goal?
  • Work forwards: You can also start from the left side of your drawing, where you are right now, and ask what's the first step I could take? And the next one?

Now for an interesting twist

Draw a 2nd person on your drawing - but on the goal side of the drawing.

This person represents people who have achieved that goal. Add more people if you like.

Realize: There are people who have done this (or something close to it)

Also Realize: You're going to be one of them - someday.

Think about your goal from the vantage point of these people:

  • For them, achieving this goal is doable.
  • They know the steps required to get there.
  • They know how to do them. They know a lot about it.

Here's the great thing: you can connect with those people. You can find people who have the knowledge and experience necessary to achieve your goal. You can learn and get help from them.

You want to start seeking them out and learning how to think and work like them. You may find them on LinkedIn, Twitter, or via good books, or contacts at your work. The S3T community is intended to help connect people in this manner.

So now you have a drawing that helps you think about your goal is a positive proactive manner.

What this does is help you start asking the right questions. Instead of focusing on why your goal might not be possible, this drawings exercise gets your mind working on questions like:

  • Who has done this before?
  • How did they do it?
  • How were they thinking about it?
  • What are the steps they went through?
  • What is the most impactful step I can take today?

Asking the right questions gets you the right answers, or at least better answers, or steps to getting to the right answers.

I'd like to challenge you to take some time this week to work on your goal or goals using this drawing approach. DM me on LinkedIn or Twitter if you'd like to talk about what you're working on. I'd love to hear from you.

You can also go to if you'd like to learn about and sign up for one of the 3 kinds of leadership consulting engagements that I offer. Have a great week, and thank you again for listening and for the courage to set goals and learn about change leadership.

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