One way to destroy a goal is to commit too early. Before committing to a goal, we need a period of mental, emotional and practical preparation. 

Last month, I wrote about the “Get Ready” phase in a “Get Ready! Get Set! Go!” model of goal achievement. It makes use of social psychologists’ research that shows the importance of acknowledging that we typically go through stages before embracing a goal whole-heartedly. 

Each stage has a different focus depending on the stage. Success requires focus and commitment to the unique tasks for each stage. 

During the first “Get Ready” phase, a goal may have been just the glimmer of an idea to be investigated and considered. During that phase, commitment is low and curiosity is high. The goal may or may not come to life. 

 

Getting Set’ 

In the second phase of “Get Set,” I like to pay attention to my inner dialogue about the goal and stay curious about outer cues about its meaning and achievement. 

I begin to develop an approach to the goal that acknowledges that commitment to the goal will need a two-way street between our inner dialogue and our outer reality. Internal exploration and external planning and resource identification all play key roles in the success of the “Get Set” phase. 

In our “Getting Set,” the ultimate goal is a “Go! No-go!” decision. This is the time to decide whether it’s a goal worthy of our attention.

“Getting Set” means preliminary planning and resource identification. I start identifying the small tasks and larger milestones that I expect to find along the way. There are many planning tools that help in this process: logic flow charts, timeline charts, calendars and budgets. 

I begin to identify resources at my disposal, including logistical, financial and social support for the goal. This preparation phase prior to committing to the goal prepares us for a deeper preparation that continues throughout the life of the goal.

Developing self-awareness

During this phase, curiosity leads to inner work to widen the two-lane street between inner and outer processes: Is this a goal that is worth my time? What are my feelings about the goal? Is it rooted in my more meaningful values, or is it the result of a passing whim? 

These questions will generate self-awareness in relationship to the goal.

With self-awareness, a useful focus of curiosity is to discover positive “frames” for goals. To pursue a goal successfully, I like to find ways to “frame” the goal as something to move forward to, rather than run away from. 

The classic example is losing weight by pursuing a physical and emotional sense of well-being, rather than focusing on feelings of repulsion about extra weight. 

Stepping stones

During the first “Get Ready” phase in the goal process, I took notes on ideas that come to me about my goal. Typically, the ideas are sprinkled with problems that have occurred to me in connection with pursuing the goal. 

Now it’s time to get some use out of this “problems list.” I start by picking a few problems from the list and ask myself: “If I were to pursue this goal, what are some ways to address this problem?” I write down any ideas with an open mind as to whether the solutions will work. 

It’s important in the “Get Set” stage to develop a list of creative solutions and a sense of mastery in problem-solving. This is important for the action phase when all systems are “Go.” 

Engagement with the goal

During the “Get Set” phase, I am discovering whether I have good chemistry with the goal. Dabbling in the goal and learning from that process helps. 

During the “Get Set” phase, I may reach a point where it’s appropriate to be bold by taking action toward the goal. 

The magic of boldness

For me, a Goethe couplet comes to mind: “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” 

During the “Get Set” phase, I am experiencing a magical paradox: I’m aware that it is premature to fully commit during this phase. It is this awareness that defines my action as bold. It is boldness that helps me cross over into the “Go” phase of actions that are primarily focused on achieving the goal. 

These are the kinds of tasks and processes needed in the second stage of setting a goal. Action taken in the second stage is dominated by the curiosity that drives planning and self-awareness. 

Committed action that is focused on goal achievement waits for the “Go” stage when accomplishing the goal is primary and commitment is appropriate.

LAURA WORTH, MSW, is a life and business coach. She is also the publisher and editor of community-based, neighborhood-specific Web directories for local health and wellness arts via SoundWellnessCommunity.com. Or visit www.coachworth.com.