March 30, 2011

Getting the Results You Want

"Current research underscores the wisdom of [Benjamin Franklin's] chart-keeping approach. People are more likely to make progress on goals that are broken into concrete, measurable actions, with some kind of structured accountability and positive reinforcement." ~The Happiness Project

I couldn't agree more, which is why one of the main things I do with my clients is create "measurable results", even when it comes to abstract ideas like worthiness, confidence, or communication. I love seeing things become focused and manageable as my clients get clear about the small strides they can take towards a larger goal!

So, what exactly is a measurable result? Overall, it's the objective means by which you can measure your progress. To develop a measurable result, there are few steps you can follow. The first step is to first of all identify the overall goal. For example: to spend more time with friends. This statement is clear, but it is still way too general to inspire action or be measured. Yet, being able to state your goal in a broad stroke is useful as a way to get the ball rolling. We’ll worry about making the goal more concise later.

The next important step is to identify why you want to pursue this goal in the first place. This step often gets skipped or people are unaware of it altogether, but it's actually the most important step in the whole process. It provides the underlying motivation that creates momentum, commitment, and endurance. In addition, reflecting on the “why” is important in order to check in and assure that your reasons are not in some way harmful to the endeavor. So, a healthy motivation might be: to create meaning and deeper connections and to share myself with others. A not so great motivation might be: to prove that people like me.

Once you’ve identified the goal (what) and the motivation (why), next comes the how and how often. Without this step, your goal is likely to remain a nice idea that is never put into action. Brainstorm a few ways that you could spend more time with friends. You could plan dinners, make a phone call, meet for coffee, or take up an activity together. This is your how. Then you need to decide how much time you’ll spend each week on this particular method designed to lead to the ultimate outcome of spending more time with friends. It should be specific – e.g. you may decide to have friends over to dinner twice a week.

Finally, you need to decide how you will track your progress in a way other than in your head. We are funny creatures in that the times we don’t meet our goals stick out to us so much more easily than when we do follow through. So, we need a tangible way to see what's actually going on. You could make a tally chart, mark it in your calendar, have a friend book that people sign when they come for dinner. Just choose any method that you'll enjoy using to track your progress and that doesn’t just feel like more work.

I'll also add that the mindset you have after setting a goal and putting it into action is critical. You won’t be perfect, and, if you allow the times when you don’t meet your goal to mean that you'll never do it or you'll never change, then it doesn’t matter how measurable the goal is, you will lose heart and abandon the goal. To keep this in check you can enroll others who will support you and remind you to take one day at a time, practice being forgiving and kind to yourself, and be flexible. If you are really struggling to meet your goals, allow yourself to reevaluate and adapt. Maybe it turns out that dinner twice a week isn’t realistic - so drop it down to one. Bottom line, measurable results are meant to help you objectively measure your progress, not your value or capability.

Are there things you've wanted to change, but you're stuck either because the task seems too big or you just don't know where to start? Maybe you need support as you create and put into action some measurable results? I encourage you to schedule a free 30 minute discovery session so you can learn more about how coaching can support you in achieving your goals.

P.S. I'm still running my "4 Free Sessions" deal for all new clients. If we decide to work together, your first four sessions are free - no strings attached!

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