PURE Goals

Now that you are making sure your goals are stated in a SMART way, you should also check that they are PURE.

  • Positively Stated – Make an inspiring and forward looking statement of achievement. Switch or invert negative terminology and find a restatement based on growth or improvement. Drop out “not”, “won’t” and other limiting phrasings.
  • Understood – There’s a easily explained “why”, you know what the goal means and you have a plan to achieve it.
  • Relevant – It’s aligned to your current situation, or the situation you are moving towards. It will help you reach your End Goal and achieve your dreams.
  • Ethical – It aligns with your values. It’s not just positively stated but it’s also going to have a positive impact on the world. If you achieve this goal, then something will have gotten better for a range of people.

Sometimes, it’s hard to write SMART goals, but we get better at creating them and holding ourselves accountable by doing, reviewing and refining. It’s the same with PURE. Your first statement might not match the criteria and that’s totally fine. Look at what you’ve written, restate it and keep going.

If you want to grow and change in a positive way, then have ethical goals, relevant to your wider desires, that are well understood and that are positively stated will give you the best opportunity to have the impact you want to have on the world.


Personal Mental Training

Coaching is personal training for the mind.

If you are exercising alone then you might be doing a great job or you might be working at 50% effectiveness. Some days you’ll just think about doing something, and you might even feel good about the thinking, without getting to the doing.

Getting some one on one time with a trainer will quickly set you up for success. You’ll find improvements in technique, you’ll be motivated to show up and you’ll be accountable for your actions while you are with them.

Once you’ve finished a set of sessions, you’ll be able to be more confident in your abilities, you’ll have learnt enough to improve at your own pace and you’ll have massively accelerated your journey.

Coaching is the mental equivalent of the personal trainer. A Coach will help you formulate your thinking. They’ll hold you accountable and make you work at 100%, to always be your best. You will find the right framework to describe your goals, to make your commitments and to succeed now and in the future.

If you are ready to take that next step, then reach out, and start achieving your goals now.


Reset the 5 Year Plan

A lot of people have a plan in their minds for the next few years. For some, it’s pretty nebulous, with a lot of potential outcomes. For others, it’s a strongly worded set of Goals and Outcomes, it’s their 5 Year Plan.

Now is an excellent time to stop and reflect on that plan, especially if it was at the firmer end of the spectrum. Lots of things have happened in the world over the last six months, very few of them have been business as usual.

The shock of change may have been major, or it may have impacted you little. Either way, these large societal shifts give you the chance to reassess, and to decide if now is the right time to change things up and take a different path.

Firstly, you can reflect on your goals. Do they still resonate with you? Are they still relevant in the world as it is now? Will achieving them bring you the meaning that they had when you set them?

Next, look at your reality. Are you still on the path to achieve these goals? Have you lost impetus or opportunity? What is different in your situation now as opposed to six month ago? How about compared with when you set out these goals?

This process might tell you to carry on, to double down or to totally switch track. Any of these options are great, so long as it’s the right choice for you. For a big, long-term, commitment it’s worth spending the time to make sure this option is the right choice. Sleep on it, see how you feel in the morning. Talk it through with trusted people in your life.

When you make a conscious choice to review your goals, then you’ll be re-energised and set-up on the path to success. Certainly a worthy endeavour for an afternoon or two!


Losing it hurts more

The pain of losing something we have is about twice as great as the pleasure that comes from gaining something new.

This idea was first formalised by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky as Loss Aversion. It’s the idea that we prefer to avoid the loss of something, over achieving an equivalent gain.

This limitation in thinking can quite easily cause us to baseline our position badly. It may stop us making a valuable change as we hold on too tightly to something we already have, or it might stop you going after a valuable opportunity because you fear losing something you already have.

You can run through a number of experiments to see how much you are affected by Loss Aversion. For a simple test, think about an item you own. Pick something that doesn’t have a large sentimental value, and that can easily be replaced. Maybe think about a TV or other electrical utility item. Imagine losing it or breaking it. How do you feel?

Now imagine that you win a new version, modern, up-to-date and better than your current model. How would that make you feel?

If you feel worse with the Loss, then that’s an example of a type of Loss Aversion. It’s very common. I’m happy with my current TV, and I’d certainly feel worse losing it.

To escape from the effect, you can frame goals and outcomes differently. Looking at the cost of things as an example. Would you prefer a £10 discount or would you prefer to avoid a £10 surcharge? Most of us prefer to avoid the surcharge, as we see that as a loss.

When you’re being coached, you’ll find it’s a lot more powerful to phrase your goals in positive terms. If a goal might cost you something to achieve it, try and baseline the goal so you don’t phrase it as including a loss.

As an example, think about investing time and effort in yourself, rather than spending money for an uncertain gain, or giving up your weekends. Don’t be forced to exercise (losing free will), but be thankful for the opportunity to improve your fitness.

Framing in this way will move you away from Loss Aversion, and give you the tools for success in your chosen endeavour.


Big Goals, Small Steps

Set yourself a big, scary goal. Something that’s truly transformative and impactful. Go big, shoot for the Moon, change the world. Say it out loud.

Now pause. Examine the statement you’ve just made. What are you feeling?

It’s probably a mix of things. Scared. Uncertain. Overwhelmed? All of these feelings are natural, by stating a goal you’ve built some commitment towards it, invested yourself in it.

We have a dozen different sayings around tackling tough challenges, because it’s a constant enduring theme of the human condition. Pick your favourite, whether it’s eating Elephants (one bite at a time!) or going on the longest journey, starting with that single step.

These ideas boil down to the same basic premise. Break down the goal. Find a small initial action to take. Reward yourself for this achievement, then do it again. Keep going, keep improving and eventually you’ll look back on a great success.

What’s your big scary goal? What’s the first small step you are going to take to achieve it?


The End Goal

There’s more than one type of goal. There’s two types in particular that are especially useful to differentiate between. These are Performance Goals and End Goals.

The End Goal is the outcome that you desire to achieve. It’s a big significant change in your life, and it’s likely to be something outside of your full control. It may be gaining a promotion at work, it might be making a large sale or it may be winning a competition or award.

These types of End Goal are a form of recognition or measure of success that it bestowed from the outside. As this achievement is outside of your control, then there is often little benefit to focusing on achieving them directly. You limit your potential because you are handing off your measure of success to a third party, you are losing agency.

Performance Goals are thing that are within your control. These are areas you measure against yourself, that you can recognise when you have achieved them and that you can control the progress towards that achievement.

Setting great Performance Goals will help you to reach your End Goal. If your aim is to win an Olympic medal, then your Performance Goal might be to consistently improve on your personal best. This takes something that’s out of your control, and ties the achievement to something in your control.

Set your outcomes up in this linked way. You don’t control getting the promotion, but you can control your performance, focusing on and improving the skills that will put you in a great place to be the easy choice for the next job that opens up.

Confusing an End Goal for a Performance Goal will set you up to fail. Setting great supporting Performance Goals will start you on a powerful journey of change, and give you the best possible chance of reaching your End Goal.


Imagine your bio

Thirty words, fifty if you are lucky, that’s what you get to highlight your achievements and to share your expertise.

What is yours going to look like?

It’s a great exercise to write the bio for your future self. It lets you formulate your goals in a fresh way, condensing them into a tight and succinct set of highlights.

You can share your most important values, the changes you are most committed to making or the impact that’s your major success.

The limits are important. By paring back to the core, you must focus on what is truly most significant, the change you want to see.

This can be done in less than an hour, so take the time on a quiet afternoon and imagine your bio.


Recognising Choices

There is always a choice available to help you achieve your goals.

It might not be obvious to you, but it’s definitely there.

If you can’t see a way forwards, think about doing nothing. If you don’t change things, will you still get closer to your goal, or are you moving away from it?

How does that make you feel? If doing nothing is a good choice, maybe you need to revisit your goals, be more ambitious or find something else to chase. Nevertheless, nothing is a choice, and it’s a valid one to consider.

Once you’ve looked at nothing, wave your magic wand and cast aside everything that’s stopping you or holding you back. Does it make you feel awesome, energised and engaged. If it does, then this is a great goal.

Look at those things you’ve cast aside, discounted or stepped around. Which of them can you envision tackling successfully. What’s the smallest step, easiest or most valuable thing to do? Answer this, and you’ve just opened up a whole set of options to consider and choices you can make.

There is always a choice, you just need to recognise what it is. Empower yourself to make decisions and you’ll have a path to positive and long term change.

Coaching Leadership

Dedication to Goals

I’ve worked with a number of junior leaders, and there’s often a theme that comes through in our conversations. The people that they are coaching are not dedicated to achieving their goals.

When we probe into the idea of dedication, there’s usually one of a small number of issues at hand. I’m going to talk about a couple of them today, and share a few techniques for overcoming them if you recognise them in your own endeavours.

Externally imposed – A person will tend to own their goals if they have created them and stated them for themselves, rather than had goals imposed on them from an external source. When you’re coaching, the coachee will bring their full understanding and potential for growth to the conversation, so let them set the goals. As a leader, share examples of times when people have been successful. Build that understanding, and then when you are coaching, let the coaching take it on to form their own goals.

Saying what you want to hear – Sometimes a coachee will try to guess what the coach wants to hear, and set that as their goal. You might recognise this when the coachee is actively seeking approval from you for their suggestions, latching on to any you view favourably. It’s challenging to overcome this behaviour. You need to build more trust with the coachee, maybe by considering other topics before returning to this goal setting. Expand the conversation. This encourages the coachee to dig deep, and find what’s really relevant to them. Don’t accept the first answer they give, but do let it be their area of focus if that really interests them.

Too big and scary – If a goal is overwhelming, then it can cause a coachee to lose heart, showing in this lack of dedication. A leader could recognise that the goal is not well formed, or it’s stated in very simplistic terms. “Get promoted” or “Be excellent” are examples of goals that might be too big for some coachees to progress with. Here we can probe on the details, strengthening the stated goal by allowing the coachee to make it more specific. We can encourage the coachee to break the goal into smaller steps, maybe by focusing on core skills to improve to position them well to succeed. Finally, we can use scaling to understand and highlight the gap that they’ll need to cross, whilst also showing the stages of progress towards achieving the goal.

These various scenarios and techniques can help you understand where the lack of dedication to achieving a goal is coming from, and give you tools to find the right goal for the coachee, and to empower them towards success.



Talking about Goals

It’s a very powerful thing to talk about your goals, to tell them to someone and to make yourself accountable to achieving them.

It’s easy to think about your goals, to feel like you are moving towards them and then to justify reasons for pulling back, for achieving less and for not reaching the outcomes that you are stretching towards.

In coaching, we spend a lot of time exploring the goals, figuring out what they mean to a coachee and sharing the commitment to achieving them. It’s a safe space to find out what really matters, to define the change you want to see and to regularly review progress towards it.

A coachee that I worked with said that our coaching sessions were like having a “gym instructor for personal development, encouraging you and pushing you to go faster and further”.

If you are ready to commit to personal development and unlocking your potential, then coaching is a great way to accelerate yourself on that path.