Goal Setting: Focus On Skills vs. Principles

Are you all fired up about the New Year and getting after your goals? This is the time of year when motivation is high and you feel most ready to tackle your big dreams. The problem is motivation fades fast and by the end of February most people drop off and return to their old habits and patterns that keep them stuck. I know this all too well as I worked in the weight loss industry for 7 years.
 
My job was to not let this happen.
 
You have a certain result or habit that you been challenged to achieve. You have the best intentions, set goals that inspire you, and start out strong, but that slows down and before you know it nothing has changed, you’re exactly where you were a few months ago, and frustrated by your lack of results.
 
Here’s why: You are probably setting your goals based on principles, not skills. 
 
I too struggled with this for a long time and once I learned this I started achieving more than I ever thought possible. I was stuck in operating my business based on principles and getting nowhere fast in the beginning. This has been an ongoing practice of mine to think in terms of skills with my goals. Be patient with yourself!
 
Let’s get some practice in and look at “losing weight” as a goal.
 

If I asked you to take 2 minutes to list all of the skills needed to lose weight…what would you write down?

 
Your list may look like this:

  • Journal Your Food
  • Focus on Portion Control
  • Eat More Healthy Foods
  • Cook from Home
  • Get a Trainer
  • Start an Exercise Routine
  • Get to Bed Earlier
  • Find an Accountability Buddy

 
Here’s the problem: These are all great ideas…but that’s all they are. Concepts and ideas that are nebulous (my new favorite word!). Any of these can be left to interpretation, add confusion, and be difficult to enact. We tend to speak in short-hand when we set goals.
 
The goal is to ‘lose weight’. Now, even if I make it more specific and realistic, say I want to lose 10 lbs. in 90 days… I still have a problem. None of the above are actually clear enough or specific enough to make it an actionable task. There’s also no way to control any of these concepts, in other words, they are not easy to track. And losing weight isn’t a behavior.
 

Nebulous ideas give you nebulous actions/ results

 
A skill has to be definable with details, easy to put on a calendar, and it has to be simple enough to do consistently.
 
Here’s what will ACTUALLY get you to your goals of losing weight based on behaviors:

  • To eat slower, I will put my fork down between each bite.
  • On Monday at 11 am I will call Amy and ask her to be my accountability buddy.
  • I will lift weights for 45 mins on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 10 am.
  • Drink 80 ounces of water per day

These are the activities you can track that will lead you to your goal. You can check them off. You either did them or you didn’t. Now, there are many other nuances that go into starting new behaviors, but I hope you can see the difference.
 
Saving money is nebulous and not a behavior.
Getting more clients is nebulous and not a behavior.
Making more money is nebulous and not a behavior.
 

These are all behavioral concepts and ideas, but not actionable or trackable.

 
There are many, many, many different ways you can accomplish these! It’s confusing to your brain because it doesn’t know what that means and your brain needs clear direction.
 
What is the actual behavior that you can track that LEADS you to get ‘more clients’ or ‘more money’?
 
Let’s do one more: Goal is to gain 5 New Clients per Month
 
Meet with 2 CEO’s / company leaders per week --> Book a Speaking Engagement with one organization (1x/month) --> Sign-up Form at Event to Get Audience on My Email List --> Email List to Follow-Up for a Free Consult --> Book a Call --> Convert to Client --> 5 New Clients
 
Which one leads to you getting more clients? 
The behavior that leads to getting 5 more clients per month is meeting with 2 organizational leaders per week to book one speaking engagement per month. All of the behaviors and actions leading up to getting 5 new clients are under your control. 
 
All of these are trackable behaviors that can fit on a calendar. All of these actions in-between can get broken down into more specific tasks with deadlines. To go even further you could break down all of the activities that lead to meeting leaders that want speakers for their organization and THAT would be what you focus on to reach your goal. ONLY THAT!
 
Wanting to make 6 figures is an awesome goal, but until you narrow down the behaviors that lead you to that goal and understand the skill sets required of you to get there, the goal remains nebulous and unachievable…it’s simply a wish.
 
When it comes to setting goals, take the time to do a skill scan and ask yourselves if you know what skill is required to reach that goal. 
 
When you can chunk your goal down to actionable behaviors that you can track, you will be able to see what’s working and what’s not so that you can make adjustments along the way. The goal does not change, but your actions in getting there might.
 
To recap:

  1. Get super clear on what you want
  2. Do a skill scan to make sure you are operating on actionable behaviors vs. principles and concepts.
  3. What is the primary action of your goal?
  4. How does that action happen?
  5. Make the action fun, simple, and easy to implement on a calendar
  6. Double check: Are my behaviors under my control and trackable?
  7. Track your results 

To your success,

Christine Wilborn