Breaking Down the Five Step Goal Setting Process

Maksim Gorky

The higher goal a person pursues, the quicker his ability develops, and the more beneficial he will become to the society.

A Blueprint for Goal Setting

This isn’t the first time I am writing an article about goal setting. In a previous article I discussed how to set SMART goals. Then yet again in another article I broke down The GROW Model process used by life coaches to help their clients set effective goals.

The above two topics are certainly valuable and will provide you with some tremendous insights about what it takes to set effective goals. However, there is a little more to goal setting that is still yet to be discussed. In fact, there are critical elements for goal setting that are easily overlooked that we will address within this article.

With these elements in place you will be able to generate enough momentum moving forward to achieve your goal. Without these elements in place, you may struggle to even get started.

The Six Step Goal Setting Process

The Five Step Goal Setting Process

Let’s break down the elements of effective goal setting into five distinct steps. We’re combining two of the steps from the above graphic into one single step.

It is of course absolutely paramount that when you set goals that you move through each of these five steps. Each step of this process will help you build a strong foundation for the work that lies ahead. Moreover, each of these steps will help you make the necessary mental shifts required to generate the momentum you need to achieve your goal.

Let me put this another way: If you follow these five steps to the letter you will effectively cover all your bases. In other words, you will put in place all the necessary pieces on your chessboard to help you checkmate your goal.

Now of course there are no guarantees because you still need to do the necessary work to bring your goal to fruition, but what you will find is that you will experience far less resistance moving forward, and this will help you to effectively generate the momentum you need to pursue your goal with more freedom.

Let’s now jump right into the five step goal setting process.

Step 1: Define What it is You Want

Your first step is to get very clear about what it is you would like to achieve.

The goal you set is of course only limited by your imagination. You could for instance set goals for your career, for your relationships, or maybe some financial, contribution or self-growth goals. The goal doesn’t matter. What matters is that you are effectively able to answer the following three questions:

What specifically do I want?

Why specifically do I want this?

When specifically do I want this?

These three questions will help you get to the heart of what it is you specifically want to achieve, the reasons why you want to achieve this goal, and a time-frame for its attainment.

You have probably no doubt set goals many times before. Maybe you have even witnessed other people set goals too. I would however bet that in most cases these three questions weren’t answered. And that is the first of many reasons why a goal isn’t achieved.

Specifying exactly what you want means writing down on paper in detail a description of the goal that you would like to achieve. Moreover, you also need to describe the reasons why you want this goal in your life at this time. Without these reasons you will simply not have enough motivation to get out of bed in the morning and pursue this goal enthusiastically.

Finally, you need to set a very specific date for the accomplishment of this goal. Without a concrete date in place there will simply not be enough urgency in your daily actions to take the steps necessary to bring this goal to fruition. In fact, without a sense of urgency you simply won’t make enough time for this goal in your schedule. Only with a clear deadline in place will you be in the necessary frame-of-mind to move mountains in order to bring your goal to life.

Step 2: Find Congruence

Having now outlined what it is you want to achieve, the reasons why you want to achieve it, and having set a deadline in place for the attainment of this goal, your next step now is to explore the level of congruence that this goal has with your values, beliefs, lifestyle, priorities, self-ideal, and with other goals that you have set.

This second step of the process is another big hurdle that many people simply do not address in advance. They set all these wonderful goals with deadlines and even generate enough reasons for pursuing them. However, in the long-run they fail to accomplish their goal simply because their goal just wasn’t congruent with key areas of their life or psyche.

If congruence doesn’t exist between your goal and the above mentioned areas, then no matter how badly you may want to have this goal in your life it will always elude you, and there’s nothing you can do about it, unless of course you address this imbalance in advance.

To explain this another way, imagine your goal being a square block. This is a beautiful square block perfect in every way. Now imagine that to achieve your goal you need to put this square block into a hole shaped like a triangle. No matter how hard you try, you will fail to put that block into this hole. It simply will not fit. What you need is to either turn your goal into a triangle or to find a square hole. Only in this way will your goal fit and you will subsequently achieve your desired aim.

The objective within this step is to make sure that the above mentioned areas are congruent with the goal that you want to achieve. To begin exploring this possibility, ask yourself the following set of questions:

Is this goal aligned with my core values?

Do I genuinely believe I can achieve this goal?

Does this goal support my current lifestyle?

Do any conflict potentially exist here?

Will I potentially need to adjust my priorities to make room for this goal?

Is this goal in conflict with other goals I am currently working towards?

How could these potential conflicts hinder my progress?

Does this goal support the person I seek to become?

The reality of the matter is that unless your core values, beliefs, lifestyle, priorities, other goals, and your self-ideal are aligned with this goal, then you really have no hope in the world of achieving it. It’s all a lost cause. If there is no alignment here, then you will simply not make the time or take the necessary actions to bring this goal to fruition.

What you need to do is address all the above mentioned areas. You either need to align these areas to your goal, or you need to change your goal so that it aligns with these areas.

For instance, if your core values are not aligned with your goal, then you will make decisions that will lead you astray. You must therefore potentially realign your core values so that they match your goal.

If your beliefs are not aligned with your goal, then you will simply not take the necessary actions required to achieve this goal. You will not take these actions because of a set of limiting beliefs that will throw doubt on everything you do. With self-doubt on your mind, you simply won’t believe that you can effectively accomplish what you set out to do. You must therefore address these limiting beliefs in advance.

If your current lifestyle and priorities are not in the right place, then you will simply not make the time to achieve your goal. There are just too many other things to do, or too many other commitments and responsibilities that will get in your way.

The same is true if you have other goals you are currently working towards. If these goals are not aligned with this new goal; or in other words don’t support this new goal, then you are in a bit of strife because you now have conflicting goals in place. With these conflicts in place you potentially won’t be able to pursue both at once. You therefore essentially need to sacrifice something (one of your goals) in order to achieve the other goal. It’s all about opportunity cost. You can focus on one area or on another area. Focusing on both and trying to do too much might result in nothing at all in both instances.

Then finally there is this person that you are seeking to become. This is your self-ideal where you have this vision of an ideal version of yourself in your mind’s-eye. If this person is misaligned with this goal you have set for yourself, then you either need to change the goal, or work on upgrading your self-ideal. Without this adjustment you will progressively sabotage your progress as you work toward accomplishing your goal.

The bottom line here is that your goal must be congruent with your life and your psyche. If there is misalignment anywhere, then you must make adjustments to your goal, or to whichever areas are not congruent with that goal.

Breaking Down the Goal Setting Process

Step 3: An Ecology Check

Often when people set a goal they only think about the present and fail to address the impact that this goal will have on the future or on other areas of their life. This of course can lead to big problems down the line when these people see firsthand the consequences that result.

Every goal you set comes with a set of consequences. These consequences can at times be helpful and at other times unhelpful. Moreover these consequences can affect you and can also affect other people in your life. Consider for a moment the following set of questions:

Who will potentially be affected by this goal?

How will these people be affected by this goal?

Even if you are setting this goal for yourself, it’s very likely that other people in your life will also be impacted in some way. In fact, these people might be affected in a very negative way, and as a result this might impact on your journey in pursuit of this goal.

We must always understand how our goals will impact other people and take measures in advance to ensure that we minimize the damage wherever possible.

For instance, pursuing this goal might mean that you spend much less time with your kids. You will miss their basketball games, dance lessons, or simply helping them with their homework. How will that make them feel? How will that impact your relationship with them? How could it impact your relationship with your partner?

These are all very important scenarios to consider because possibly you might not like what happens, and as a result you might now think twice before pursuing this goal.

To tackle this from another perspective, ask yourself the following questions:

What is good about my present situation?

Would achieving this goal allow me to keep these things?

So in this instance you highly value the time you have with your kinds every single week. This is what is good about your present situation. Now, you must consider whether pursuing this goal will allow you to keep this part of your life. If the answer is an affirmative YES, then you have set yourself on the right track. However, if the answer is a resounding NO, then you have some work to do or you will need to make some short-term sacrifices for potential long-term gains. Or, another option is to make allowances for this in advance and adjust your goal accordingly.

This brings us to the potential sacrifices you might need to make moving forward. Ask yourself:

What sacrifices may I need to make in order to pursue this goal?

Am I willing to make these sacrifices?

Every goal you set yourself has a set of sacrifices that you must make. This is the price of success. Some kind of sacrifices must be made along this new journey you have chosen for yourself. And of course making some of these sacrifices might not be easy. In fact, you might not even want to make them in the first place, and if that’s the case, then you have just hit a big roadblock along your journey. In fact, you have hit a roadblock that stops many people in their tracks.

Typically when people set goals they get all excited about achieving them. However, they don’t consider in advance the sacrifices they will need to make to bring that goal to fruition. Then while in the pursuit of this goal they give up very quickly because the time-cost and effort involved is just more than they can handle. And so nothing happens and they go back to their old life.

You cannot allow yourself to fall into this trap. As such, it’s absolutely paramount that you identify the kind of sacrifices that you must make in order to achieve this goal, and then make up your mind whether or not you are willing to make them. If you’re not willing to make these sacrifices, then you must either change your goal or think a little creatively about how you will go about accomplishing it.

In order to put all this into proper perspective and to help you make the right decision moving forward, consider for a moment the answers to the following set of questions:

What are the consequences of not achieving this goal?

What’s clearly at stake here?

What could I miss out on or lose altogether?

How will that make me feel?

Now ask yourself:

What could I potentially gain by achieving this goal?

What will achieving this goal allow me to do for myself and others?

How will it change me as a person?

How will that make me feel?

Reflecting on your answers to these questions you should now have a very clear idea of whether or not this is a goal that you would like to pursue. It will of course require sacrifice and will impact other people in numerous ways, however the potential long-term gains may outweigh the drawbacks moving forward. And this is essentially the decision you need to make. Knowing what you now know you must decide whether this goal is worth pursuing. Therefore, there is one more question you must ask yourself before you jump into creating a blueprint for achieving your goal. That question is:

Knowing what I now know, do I still want this goal?

If the answer is NO, then go back to the start and reassess your goal. Possibly you might need to set a different goal or maybe a more flexible deadline for achieving it. However, if the answer is a resounding YES, then let’s move onto the next step of this process.

Step 4: Develop a Blueprint

It’s now time to develop a blueprint for achieving your goal. A blueprint will help you to get clear about the obstacles you may potentially face, the resources you may need, while also presenting you with ideas on how you can leverage your environment to support the attainment of your goal.

First, let’s take a look at the potential obstacles you may face along your journey. These obstacles can of course come in many forms including people, events, circumstances, fears, limiting beliefs, lack of experience or knowledge, etc.

Identifying these obstacles is a very challenging exercise because we typically don’t want to look ahead at these potential roadblocks. Roadblocks tend to create doubt and manifest in indecision, which can stifle our progress. However, sooner or later you will likely face roadblocks whether you prepared for them in advance or not. In my mind, I’d rather be prepared somewhat in advance, than to have to figure things out on the spot.

This is in fact where many people hit a snag on the road and are unable to move forward. They didn’t initially take the time to reflect on what could potentially go wrong, and now they are ill-prepared to deal with the situation. You will of course never have all the answers, but you can certainly forecast in advance the kind of scenarios you may potentially face moving toward your goal.

If you struggle with fear in certain instances, then you will want to outline how you will overcome that fear when you’re standing next to it face-to-face. The same is true with limiting beliefs. These beliefs will hinder your progress. You therefore must plan in advance how you will potentially handle them.

Then there are other obstacles such as people, events and circumstances that just don’t work in your favor. These are things that you may or may not be able to control. However, you can always control your responses to specific scenarios. And it is these responses of course that will dictate your next steps moving forward.

Given all this, take some time now to ask yourself the following questions:

What potential obstacles could stand in my way?

How could they delay or hinder my progress?

What must I do to successfully work through these obstacles?

In order to overcome some of these obstacles, you will either need to dig into your kit of resources, or you will just need to become a little more resourceful to move through the obstacle successfully.

Resources can come in the form of tools, skills and/or knowledge that you can use to make progress. For instance, you may need to take a little time to learn a new skill or to acquire some helpful knowledge that will allow you to successfully work through a particular situation. Alternatively, there may be some tools that you can gain access to that you can use to overcome your challenge.

Every obstacle you face along your journey is nothing more but a problem that you can work through with the right resources, and the necessary resourcefulness to pull it off. Understanding what’s needed and required in advance can help you plan ahead for what’s to come. Ask yourself:

What resources do I currently have that can help me achieve this goal?

What resources might I need to help me achieve this goal?

How will I go about acquiring these resources?

Keep in mind also that resources can come in the form of people and support. You don’t necessarily need to have the skills to overcome a problem. All you need is the right connections to someone who can help you out. And that of course comes down to your level of resourcefulness.

A Blueprint for Goal Setting

You can of course be incredibly resourceful, however if your environment does not support the attainment of your goal, then you will struggle to make progress.

When I’m referring to your environment I mean the environment you live and work in. This of course includes all the physical things that make up that environment, which does involve people.

Your environment must support all the work you do toward the attainment of your goal. If friction exists, then this will hinder your progress. As such you will need to make alterations to your environment in order to optimize your actions and results.

Given all this, it’s important that we take the time to leverage our environment as best we can so that it helps support what we are trying to accomplish. To do this ask yourself:

Does my environment support the attainment of this goal?

How does it help me? How does it potentially hinder me?

Do the people in my life support the attainment of my goal?

How might I need to modify my environment moving forward so that it supports all the work I’m going to do in pursuit of this goal?

Your environment must effectively support all your actions. It must be motivational as well as inspirational, and it must grow as you grow into your goal.

Your final task is to define who you will need to become along your journey as you work towards the attainment of this goal. In other words, this is the person that you must be in order to deserve having this goal in your life.

You should already have clarity about the obstacles you are likely to face, the resources you will need and the potential changes you might need to make to your environment. Taking all these into account, you should have a very clear idea of what it will now take from a personal level to accomplish your goal.

Every goal we pursue of course requires us to develop certain habits and to adopt specific kinds of qualities and beliefs that will support the attainment of that goal. In fact, in order to have this goal in your life you will need to adhere to a specific set of standards that will help keep you on track.

In most cases we never take these factors into consideration. However, every goal requires something from us; requires us to be a certain way in order to achieve it. It’s therefore important to have some clarity in these areas.

With clarity in mind you will be in an optimal frame-of-mind moving forward, which will of course help you to overcome the various challenges and setbacks that you may potentially face along the way. As such, take all factors discussed within this step into consideration and ask yourself the following questions:

Given what I now know, what kind of person must I become in order to achieve this goal?

What kind of habits and rituals must I build in order to achieve this goal?

What kind of beliefs and qualities must I adopt in order to achieve this goal?

What personal standards must I abide by in order to achieve this goal?

Having gained clarity about the person you need to become, your next step is to start drawing up a plan of action for the attainment of your goal.

Step 5: Drawing Up Plan of Action

The final step of the goal setting process involves drawing up a plan of action for the accomplishment of your goal.

I’m not going to go into any detail here about what’s involved with drawing up a plan of action as this topic has already been discussed in great length. However, what I will do is provide a few guidelines that must be taken into consideration.

First of all, where many people go wrong here is that they create this magnificent and detailed plan of action that initially gets them very excited and enthused, but soon enough they just get bogged down in the details and end up diverting their attention to other things.

Your plan of action does not necessarily need to be detailed. Above all else it needs to give you some direction; a place to help you get started along the journey toward your goal.

There should of course be an end point; or in other words a deadline that you outlined within Step 1 of this process. Then between this “start and end point” it’s important to create a set of small steps and milestones that can help you build momentum along your journey.

Keeping your motivation levels high, will of course be paramount. To do this it’s important that you have a means of tracking your progress and that you put a reward system in place for reaching your milestones.

Having all these elements in place will help you get started along your journey toward your goal. However, getting started is the easy part. Where most people struggle is with building the necessary motivation and momentum required to stick with your goal for the long-haul.

Building Your Motivation

We don’t necessarily need motivation to achieve a goal. We can instead urge ourselves through sheer brute force and willpower to get to our desired destination. However, doing things this way can certainly be a lot more arduous and difficult. As such, let’s choose the motivational route instead by exploring ways we can find the motivation we need to pull us forward toward the attainment of our goal.

In a previous article I outlined what it takes to develop unstoppable motivation. That article provides you with a plethora of ideas ranging from beginner to more advanced motivational techniques. As such, I won’t go into much detail here, however I will mention a few important key points that we should be keeping in mind when it comes to pursuing our goals.

Act Small, Think Big

When it comes to optimizing your motivational levels while in the pursuit of your goal, it certainly helps to act small but to think big.

Thinking big about your goal helps you see the big picture while encouraging you to consider the incredible possibilities and opportunities that lie ahead on your journey. This can be incredibly motivational and inspiring, however if it is not coupled together with small action steps, then it can quickly turn into an unrealistic dream that you will never realize.

Many people like to think big about their goals (which is great), however they quickly overwhelm themselves with the thought of what it will take to achieve this goal, and so they give up before they even get started. They simply don’t understand that big thinking must be coupled together with small daily actions that help us build momentum as we make our way toward our goal.

Therefore think big, but act small. That is the first key to finding true motivation.

Make Goals Fun and Challenging

The second factor that can help you build lasting motivation in pursuit of your goal comes down to the “fun factor”. The goals you are chasing must be fun. In other words, you must enjoy pursuing them. However, in order to enjoy something, there must be a level of challenge.

Have you ever played a video game before? Most probably you have. Think about the games that you really enjoyed. I bet that these games weren’t easy. In fact, I bet that these games were some of the more challenging games you played. You had fun and you enjoyed playing them because of the challenge they posed.

Goals are not much different than video games. We will always feel more motivated to pursue something that is fun. However, things will not be fun unless they are somewhat challenging. Not too challenging, but somewhat challenging; forcing us to stretch ourselves beyond our comfort zone.

When you stretch yourself in this way you learn and grow from the experience, and this likewise generates even more motivation moving forward.

Therefore as you work toward your goal be sure to add a “fun” factor element into the process. Ask yourself:

How can I make pursuing this goal fun and exciting?

How can I potentially turn this goal into a game?

How can I make pursuing this goal a little challenging?

What will be the value of this challenge?

How will it help me develop and grow as a person?

Focus on Critical Activities

While pursuing a goal, it’s easy to get lost in the details; focusing on irrelevant tasks and activities that provide you with very little long-term value. Yes, these activities might seem important in the moment, but what real long-term value do they provide you with?

In order to build motivation, it’s important that we are constantly making inroads into our goal. Irrelevant tasks and activities can often sidetrack us, and when we get sidetracked we lose that focus and progress stagnates. And of course when we are no longer progressing forward, that is when motivation progressively dissipates.

Yes, of course you might feel as though you are making progress, however this simply will not last. Eventually you will realize that things have stagnated, and that is when your motivation levels will plummet into the pits of regret.

Given all this, it’s absolutely critical that you identify the 20 percent of activities you need to focus on that will get you 80 percent of your desired outcomes. I’m of course referring to the 80/20 Rule or otherwise called the Pareto Principle.

While in pursuit of your goal it’s absolutely critical to keep this principle in mind by asking yourself:

Is this task of critical value, or is it simply a distraction?

Is this task getting me closer to my goal or pulling me away?

Is this the most valuable use of my time right now?

Where could I focus my time and energy to garner the highest returns?

Get Inspired

Inspiration and motivation often go hand-in-hand. As such it’s important to consider how you can keep yourself inspired throughout this journey as you work toward the attainment of your goal.

You could for instance create a vision board or mind map poster that showcases what you’re goal is all about using key visuals and words. Or you could create a set of flashcards that you carry with you throughout the day with inspiring quotes and visuals about your goal.

Another way to find some inspiration is to spend time journaling your past successes and accomplishments. Then whenever you need a little inspiration you can read over the journal entries you created.

These are all small things that might seem rather insignificant, however in combination they can go a long way toward helping you to stay inspired as you make progress along your journey toward your goal.

Generate Urgency

Urgency is one of the fundamental keys to building long-term motivation. When you work with urgency you feel more alive. Moreover you feel as though you are working with a purpose, and this essentially helps keep you motivated over the long-haul.

One way to generate this urgency is to use a countdown timer. For instance, you might have a task that you would like to accomplish. This task might typically take you a couple of hours to complete. However, you decide that you would like to work with more urgency, and so you set the timer for one hour. You therefore must now find a way to complete this task within that timeframe. Will you accomplish your objective?

It might seem impossible at this very moment that you could accomplish this specific task in half the time. However, what often happens is that the task often expands to fit the timeframe we have set for its accomplishment.

When you set a more stringent timeframe for accomplishing a particular task you are automatically forced to think differently about how you will go about accomplishing this task, and as such you often will find a way to do it within that timeframe. And it’s this challenge of trying to fit the task into a smaller timeframe that helps keep you motivated as you work through the task.

Find an Accountability Partner

All the above suggestions are of course fantastic. However, they will be of little value for you if you are not able to keep yourself accountable while in pursuit of your goal.

For most people, keeping themselves accountable is a struggle. It’s just too easy to let yourself off the hook when you just don’t feel in the mood. For this very reason it’s critical that you take on an accountability partner who can keep you accountable for your actions.

An accountability partner can of course be a friend, family member, colleague or even a mentor who can keep you focused and on track.

The person you choose for this role should be someone you respect and admire. Bonus points if they are someone who has already accomplished what you are now trying to accomplish. This way they will also be able to guide you based on their own personal experiences and mistakes.

Building Motivation for Goal Setting

Building Momentum for Goal Achievement

Now that you have a little motivation behind you, it’s time to build some momentum moving forward toward the attainment of your goal.

Momentum is of course one of the keys to long-term success. It is something that many people struggle to create because of their inconsistent approach.

To achieve your goal you must be consistent. Consistency of course comes via following through with specific tasks you have set yourself while also building daily rituals that support those tasks and activities.

Build New Habits and Rituals

Having locked your goal in place, one of the first things you need to do to start building momentum, is to set in place some new habits and rituals that support your goal.

Have a think about your goal and consider the types of habits and rituals that you will need to build that help support the tasks and activities you will undertake.

As a sidenote, consider for a moment that you already have habits and rituals in place. In fact, everyone has habits and rituals in place that they indulge in every single day. These habits will either support the goal you are trying to achieve, or they will hinder your progress. As such, it’s absolutely critical that you become aware of these behaviors and quickly make changes if for any reason they do not support your goal. Ask yourself:

What daily habits and rituals do I currently have in place?

Do these habits and rituals support the goal I am working towards?

How specifically do they support my goal?

How specifically do they not support my goal?

What changes might I need to make moving forward?

Having answered these questions, you should now have a better idea of the kinds of habits and rituals you might like to build moving forward.

Possibly you might need to create a morning routine that gets your day started on the right track. Or perhaps reading an inspiring book of quotes for 15 minutes per day will help you stay more motivated and focused. Or, how about the habit of planning out your day the night before. This can certainly get the next day started on the right track.

To help you develop these new habits and rituals, ask yourself the following questions:

What specifically am I working towards? (your goal)

What tasks and activities do I need to focus on in order to achieve this goal?

What helpful habits and/or rituals could I build that support those tasks and activities?

While answering these questions, consider habits and rituals that can keep you inspired, focused, productive, and/or energized throughout the day.

Once you have specified what these habits and rituals will be, take the time now to lock them into your daily schedule to help you build a consistent routine that will generate the momentum you need to achieve your goal.

Create Daily Reminders

A fantastic and easy way to start building momentum toward your goal is to get into the habit of creating daily reminders for yourself about what you need to do to accomplish your goal.

You could for instance post sticky notes around your home or office with small reminders to help you stay focused on the goal you are working toward. These reminders can come in the form of inspiring quotes, simple doodles, to-do lists, or even in the form of visuals that help you understand the reasons why you decided to pursue this goal in the first place.

The key here is to post these reminders in a variety of place, ie. in the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, office, shower, etc. The more times you can remind yourself about what it is you need to do or stay focused on, the greater momentum you will generate moving toward the attainment of your goal.

Review Your Goals Daily

Another key idea that can help generate momentum by keeping you inspired over the long-haul is to regularly review your goal.

You can for instance develop a daily ritual where you take time to write out your goal using words and doodles. Every day you write your goal out in this way, it will be a little different, and this is important because it will allow you to maintain a flexible approach moving forward.

These daily reviews should also include a quick summary of the progress you have made the day before. This is helpful because it allows you to effectively measure what worked, what didn’t work and how you can potentially make changes moving forward.

For extra brownie points, after your review you can spend a little time meditating or visualizing upon your goal. 😉 This will help you gain even more clarity about what must happen moving forward as you make progress toward that goal. All this will help you stay focused and inspired, which will help you generate even more momentum moving forward.

Create Flexible Deadlines

Your daily reviews will allow you to see how you are progressing along your journey. These reviews might reveal that you’re on track, or they might reveal that things are not panning out as you had expected.

In such instances, it’s important to maintain a flexible approach moving forward. Yes, you may have set a plan in place, however this doesn’t mean that this plan shouldn’t change. There will always be unexpected events and circumstances that may arise that could potentially throw you off course. In such instances you need to be flexible with your approach and make the necessary modifications to your goal. Moreover, you may very well need to change the deadline for the accomplishment of your goal.

Above all else, it’s important that you resist the stubbornness trap. Your goal will never be a straight line moving from Point A to Point B. The line will instead be loopy, curved and may even get tangled in certain spots. As such it’s absolutely paramount to stay flexible along this journey. Only through a flexible approach will you keep building positive momentum moving forward.

Ask Solution Focused Questions

A flexible approach of course requires a flexible mind. And a flexible mind requires you ask solution focused questions that can help you make the necessary adjustments along your journey.

Whenever you hit a snag on the road toward your goal, don’t despair. There is something of value here for you. However, if you are not willing and able to ask the right kinds of questions, then you will not see the opportunities that lie in front of you.

Asking solution focused questions can help you build momentum because they will keep you from getting stuck when setbacks and challenges arise. For instance, let’s imagine that an unexpected problem arises. Instead of complaining or making excuses about your predicament, choose instead to ask some key questions that can help you work through the situation successfully. For instance you could ask yourself:

What just happened?

Why specifically this this happen? What was the cause?

What predicament does this put me in?

What resources do I have on hand to help me deal with this problem?

What potential opportunities does this problem bring to light?

How can I make the most from this situation?

What can I learn from this situation?

How must I adapt moving forward?

As you can see, these solution focused questions help you explore this problem from a number of angles and perspectives. In this way you are able to make the most of a potential roadblock that would otherwise keep you stuck. As such, you can now keep building momentum toward your goal instead of stagnating the moment an unexpected problem arises.

Building Momentum for Goal Achievement

Celebrate Small Victories

Finally, a simple ritual that will help keep you motivated and inspired over the long-haul is to celebrate the progress you make toward your goal.

Celebrating small victories of course doesn’t mean to break out the champagne glasses after every completed task and invite your family and friends over for a party. 😉 What it does mean is to acknowledge in some way the small milestones you reach along your journey.

You can for instance do this by rewarding yourself with your favorite food, or by watching a good movie, or by buying something special for yourself. It really doesn’t matter how big or small it is. What matters is how it makes you feel; and often small things are enough to make you feel deserving and grateful.

Given this, take some time to identify several milestones you will be aiming for along your journey. Now beside each milestone outline how you will reward yourself once that milestone has been achieved.

What you will typically find is that with milestones and rewards in place you will no longer be aiming for a goal that might be months or years away from accomplishment. Instead you will be aiming for closer targets that will keep you inspired and building momentum toward that ultimate destination.

Time to Assimilate these Concepts

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Adam is a life coach, mind mapper, doodler and visual thinker. He founded IQ Matrix in 2009 and has created over 350 self-growth mind maps. He also has a Free 40 Day How to Doodle Course where he teaches how to doodle using simple daily lessons. Read more about Adam's story, and how he created the concept for IQ Matrix. Feel free to also get in touch and send Adam a message here.