Goal Setting in a world is changing faster than ever can be tricky. With more information, viewpoints, rapidly evolving technology, political and population turmoil and in many cases linked to climate change and environmental degradation the landscape is constantly shifting, this state of flux has an acronym ‘VUCA’ (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity).
How do we set goals against this backdrop when we know that elements always seem to be shifting?
Whilst we shouldn’t shy away from setting goals around reaching the specific tangible goals it is wise to consider some other types of goals that sit alongside these.
Shifting Perspective on Goal Setting
As human beings we are a complex mix of thinking and feeling. Whether emotions are on the surface or buried deeply out of sight, 90% of our brain function is unconscious, whilst we might think we analysing and making decisions based on logic, our unconscious mind always plays a part.
A tangible practical goal like reducing carbon footprint by x% is great, but how we ‘feel’ about that goal will have a huge impact on how we tackle it. If we can feel enthused and motivated, rather than overwhelmed, we are far more likely to achieve it. By encouraging our imagination to get involved and feel empowered to tackle the goal, the process develops more dynamic energy and momentum, which is also contagious.
It’s sometimes easier said than done, especially if you feel isolated and unsupported in your role. That’s when you need to start thinking about who your allies will be, building connection and a network to support you tangibly and emotionally is something that will bolster your resilience.
Next time you are presented with a challenge, think about how you view it, is it with relish and enthusiasm or do you feel overwhelmed and daunted by the task? What could you do to help you feel more confident and keen to tackle the challenge and who can you enrol and engage to help you? Check out my blog Stories 4 Ways to Create a Positive Self Narrative.
‘Being’ as well as ‘Doing’ Goal Setting
Whilst we can’t control all the elements that factor in our journey toward our goals, what we do have is the ability to decide how we behave and respond to situations that arise along the way. Self-contracting ‘being’ goals as opposed to ‘doing’ goals can help us connect to a part of ourselves that doesn’t always show up automatically. Making a conscious decision ahead of time at how we want to respond if the goal posts change or we hit barriers and objections, can have a big influence, not only on the outcomes, but how we navigate and survive the journey to get there.
For instance, we might say that we will work to remain ‘patient’ during difficult conversations or demonstrate ‘kindness’ when faced with objections or defensiveness. This might sound a little corny but allowing our emotions to get the better of us won’t help us to reach our goals any quicker. We can also lose the respect and cooperation of others in the process and have to cope with the fall out after we have calmed down. (Listening to the coverage of the Covid Enquiry certainly was an eye opener as to how some of our politicians behaved in a crisis!)
Goal Setting Self Care
Tangible goals can also incorporate commitments around self-care, creating space step back and conduct a weekly review, or simply making a decision to take some deep breaths before entering the next activity or meeting to reset.
When we focus and agree with ourselves what behaviours, we would prefer to demonstrate, whilst we might not manage to stick with it every time, we can begin to subtly shift our approach. In Sustainability we are playing long game so as the often-quoted adage says, ‘it’s a marathon not a race’ we need to nurture and nourish ourselves as we go along so we have the energy to show up at our best.
When we are engaging with others it can be useful to talk about this type of goal setting, contracting a group or team to think about their approach gets everyone off on the same footing and can allow for gentle reminders if behaviours begin to slip.
When I run my Goal Mapping workshops, I encourage participants to set both ‘doing’ and ‘being’ goals.
Shifting our perspective especially when we feel stuck and alone, is not always easy. If you feel you need help finding different approaches and perspectives, feel free to get in touch with me for a chat and see how we might create new options and possibilities for you together.