How can you achieve your ambition?

Thursday, February 1st, 2007
Rock Climbing
The word 'goals' has different meaning for us all, the first thought that comes to my mind is "What is the difference between a 'goal' and an 'ambition'? In my mind an ambition is something that we wish to do or achieve at some point and there are no defined timeframes around it.

These may be things like, I want to be able to speak another language, I want to practice yoga, I want to go skiing or I want to go on holiday to Africa. All of these are great, but there is no accountability or commitment to achieve them. I think of goals as something I wish to achieve over a stated period of time that I work towards daily, something I focus on, that I hold myself accountable to and am able to know when I have achieved it.

In some of the conversations I have with clients, when asked what their 'goals' are, a client will often comment "Why do you want to change me?" Some become quite emotional and tell me that they are happy as they are, as if there is a pressure or stress related to the setting of goals. In these situations I ask them "How are you going to achieve this?" Normally this results in confusion in the client and "What do you mean? I don't understand." My reply is to ask whether this wish to remain the same and not change is not a goal in itself? If your goal is to remain the same, enjoying the same quality of life and choices, do you expect this to continue if you do nothing, or do you need to plan to ensure that this is the case?

What is it that stops us from achieving our goals? For some of us it is being held accountable for them. Some of us set unrealistic goals that we give up, some of us change our focus and the goals are no longer important to us and some of us forget why we set them in the first place!

From my own personal experience, there was a time in my life when I had changed employer four times in five years. Looking back this led me to a sense of under achievement and sense of loss in my fulfilment. I just could not explain it but something was missing. During a period of reflection and personal goal planning, I realised that much of what I was experiencing was due to not having goals and the ability to measure myself against them. I took this time to look further back at my life as a child and teenager as I grew up. It occurred to me that no-one had ever sat me down and shared with me how to set goals for the really important things that I wished to achieve in life. The only time I had really set goals was in a work perspective to build a business or marketing plan etc.

You can never become too good at goal setting. A mistake some people make in setting goals is to set them, achieve them and do nothing. As we go through life we should be constantly checking where we are in the achievement of our goals, and then writing down new goals so that this is a never ending process. Itís a good idea to write all your goals down as either short, medium or long term, eg, this could be three months, one year and five years plus.

Goals should be specific and measurable, eg. what do you want and how will you know when you have it? You should set yourself a timeframe to achieve them eg. what will you do, how do you see yourself doing that and what steps are involved? It may take a many steps not just one! We ask our clients to look for obstacles that will get in their way, including themselves! It is important to consider what resources you need and how you will keep yourself on track. Consistent and regular follow-up is required. As you take time to reflect, look at what worked and what did not work and finally acknowledge any progress or goal achievement you make, celebrate your success, remember to consider what you are most proud of and what did it take to achieve your goal? We have to remember though that the process of goal setting is part of the achievement of our goals, not the goal itself!