Most people have goals, but not everyone knows the essentials needed to accomplish them.

This week I spent some time on a coaching call with a team from a private lender’s office. Less than a month ago, I had shared with them the knowledge of how to create plans for their personal and professional lives.

In our most recent call, I went over some of the potential pitfalls they may face in trying to make their plans. These are the things that could prevent them from moving forward to achieve their desired outcomes.

While preparing for this call I thought about three things necessary to achieve a goal.

1. Your What.

What are you trying to accomplish with this goal? I am not talking about a shot in the dark; like just wanting to become a better person. Your goals should be more specific than that.

Here are some examples of specific goals:

  • Pay off all my credit cards by Christmas.
  • Go on a date night every other Friday night with my spouse.
  • Workout Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 6-7 am.
  • Lose twenty pounds in the next 90 days.

2. Your Why.

This is just as important as knowing the what. Once you know what you want to do, you need to ask yourself the reason for wanting to accomplish this; the real purpose behind it. It may be that paying off that credit card debt will enable you to have a vacation next spring. Or maybe you feel that having a date night every other week will bring the passion back into your marriage.

It’s important to know and understand your purpose for setting that goal. It will be the driving force helping you accomplish what you have set out to do. If you are struggling to figure out the why, I can recommend an exercise I learned from Marshall Goldsmith’s book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. It is called, Complete the Sentence.

You take what you are wanting to accomplish and then fill in a benefit. You keep doing the exercise until you get right down to your real purpose. The more you do it, the more you get away from generic answers to the heart of the matter.

Let me give you an example. Let’s take the date-night goal. The complete sentence exercise would look like this: When I start going on a date night every other Friday with my spouse, I will_________. You fill in the blank. Now the first time you answer, you may write something like, “she will stop complaining that I never take her out.” Then, when you do the exercise again you may write, “she will be more interested in the things I am into.” You keep on doing it until you reach the real heart of the matter. The fifth time you fill in the blank you may write, “so we pursue each other like we did before we were married!”

3. Your Way.

You only set yourself up for success if you give yourself an avenue for accomplishing your goals. If you don’t give yourself a path to take, inertia will take over and you will go back to your old habits quickly.

For instance, if you want to pay off all your credit cards by Christmas you will need to lay some tracks to help you get there. Perhaps you decide that the way you are going to do it is by working out a budget for each month and begin using a cash envelope system. That is, you put cash in envelopes for gas, groceries, and entertainment. When the money is gone, you’re done till the next budget period. By doing this you are providing a way for you to make your goals actually happen.

You can begin to accomplish your goals by knowing the What, Why, and Way that suits you most. Take a look at your most current goals and see if any of these three are missing.

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