“…decades of research on achievement suggests that successful people
reach their goals not simply because of who they are,
but more often because of what they do.”
~Heidi Grant Halvorson
It’s the end of 2011. And with 2012 just around the corner, it’s time to reflect on the year that’s passed and chart some new (or re-commit to current) goals for the coming year. It’s time to craft your goals for success (however you define it.)
But for my coaching clients and I’m sure many of you, goal setting and achievement is not just an end of the year thing. It’s an ongoing focus on our continuous improvement and development.
Here they are in summary form:
Seize the moment to act on your goals. (decide when and where you will take each action you want to take, in advance.)
- Know exactly how far you have left to go.
- Be a realistic optimist.
- Focus on getting better, rather than being good. (Believing you have the ability to reach your goals is important, but so is believing you can get the ability.)
- Have grit. Grit is a willingness to commit to long-term goals, and to persist in the face of difficulty.
- Build your willpower muscle. Your self-control "muscle" is just like the other muscles in your body — when it doesn't get much exercise, it becomes weaker over time. But when you give it regular workouts by putting it to good use, it will grow stronger and stronger, and better able to help you successfully reach your goals.
- Don't tempt fate. No matter how strong your willpower muscle becomes, it's important to always respect the fact that it is limited, and if you overtax it you will temporarily run out of steam.
- Focus on what you will do, not what you won't do.
Several of the actions Halvorson identifies are consistent with goal setting best practices outlined in the SMART goals approach. Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound is the standard for goal setting.
But #5, “focus on getting better, rather than being good” requires a shift in perspective for many
Researcher, Carol Dweck, in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success identifies two different mindsets, the growth mindset (getting better) and the fixed mindset (being good). One perspective can positively impact the achievement of your goals and the other will keep you stuck in your ways.
The fixed mindset creates an internal monologue that is focused on judging: “Are you sure you can do it? Maybe you don’t have the talent?” “This means I’m a better/smarter/richer person than they are.” Worse yet, this mindset provides no solution or options to overcome your challenge.
People with a growth mindset are also constantly monitoring what’s going on, but their internal monologue is not about judging themselves and others in this way. They are attuned to the situation’s implications for learning and constructive action. They ask themselves questions like: “What can I learn from this? How can I improve? How can I help my coworker do this better?”
So in the context of Halvorson’s suggestions, #5 and embracing the growth mindset is critical for success and your goal achievement.
As you establish your goals for 2012, evaluate them in terms of Halverson’s research and your own view of your current mindset. If you happen to already possess a growth mindset, that’s great news. If yours is fixed, however, Dweck identifies a few steps to help you make the shift:
- Learn to hear your fixed mindset “voice.”
- Recognize that you have a choice.
- Talk back to it with a growth mindset voice.
- Take the growth mindset action: i.e take on the challenge whole heartedly, learn from the setbacks and try again or hear the criticism and act on it.
Goal setting, progress and achievement are integral to my work as a coach. Combining the proven research on successful change with practical approaches and support is the foundation for my work.
I’d love to hear some of your best practices on goal setting and achievement. What works best for you? How will you achieve your goals in 2012?
To your success,