Ever said or heard this statement (or something like it)?
"I've set goals, but I can never seem to actually accomplish them."
We work with people of all experience levels, titles, roles, ages, etc., and this frustration always comes up. Whether you set New Years' resolutions, are shooting for sales targets or something else entirely, it's pretty likely that you've found it hard to make progress on your own and need help reaching your goals.
As we've looked through the works of many experts, talked with clients and even gotten our own coaches and mentors, we've come to the conclusion that the reason people are terrible at achieving goals on their own is that they tend to lack one (or more) of these three things:
Or, what we call, the 3Cs.
They go in order and, on the surface, may look pretty simple. However, if you're lacking any of the three, reaching your goals is going to continue to be a struggle.
Let's dive in to each of them:
What do you want?
There seem to be two types of people:
- Those who say they know what they want, but it's pretty abstract (e.g., I want a million dollars), OR
- Those who have no (read: zero, zip, nada) idea where they're going
This is the function of the first C: Clarity.
In it's simplest version, Clarity is just that – a clear vision of what you want. Now, you may not necessarily know how you're going to get it, but you know what "it" is. And Clarity can't just be some pie-in-the-sky, lofty, abstract concept. If you've got massive Clarity around your goals, you can:
- Picture it in your head
- Sense what it'll feel like
- Smell/taste/hear the environment your success will be set in
Clarity is a powerful motivator. In fact, it's the ONLY way to have motivation to achieve your goals. If you can't see the goal, there's no way you'll be motivated to work toward it.
There are several exercises that can help you identify what's working and not working currently, in order to start visualizing the end game. These may include:
- Reflective discussion
- Talking with supervisors or spouses
Whatever route you choose, the goal is to walk away with epic Clarity so you can start charting a path to get there.
An additional point for managers: Keep this in mind for your team. If you're not setting very clear expectations around sales, marketing, organizational, or other types of goals – and communicating them clearly – you're setting your employees up for failure.
You know what you want, but is it possible?
The second C is all about actually believing you can achieve what you want: Certainty.
Another way to think about Certainty is this – are you confident that the dreams and goals you have for yourself are attainable? Do you have such a high level of Certainty that, even if everyone around you said your idea was stupid, you would still believe that you were capable of accomplishing it?
Someone with a high level of Certainty can't be stopped on their way to the top of the mountain. Again, it's not about how it will happen. It's just about knowing that – one way or another – you'll get there.
An additional point for managers: A lack of Certainty is especially a problem for a lot of the early-career, young professionals we work with (most of them Millennials). We've talked before about this group's history of constant parental input. In addition to a high need for feedback, this has also resulted in a low level of Certainty (or at least self-driven Certainty). This is something we, as coaches and managers, need to be aware of when developing their potential for success. When we set targets, ensure that they're challenging, but attainable. An employee who has clear goals, but thinks those goals are impossible to reach, won't be very motivated to work toward them.
you know what you want and you know you can have it - but do you have the ability?
I won't dive into a lot here, because I've actually written about Capacity more in-depth before. But at a high level, once you have Clarity and Certainty, you have to have the Capacity to do the hard work to get there – otherwise you'll live in a cycle of Survival, Discovery and Suffering.
Capacity is all about your ability to accomplish your goals. Ask yourself these questions:
- Do I invest in myself daily – reading, meditating, listening to educational podcasts or videos, etc.?
- Does my body have the energy – both nutritionally and physically – to power through the day?
- Do I reinforce my Certainty daily, with affirmations, intentions or incantations?
- Do I focus on the things that are moving me forward, instead of just keeping me busy?
Whether you're Beyonce or Bob at the coffee shop, we all have the same 24 hours each day to achieve everything we've ever dreamed of. The question is, how well do you make use of it?
If you're in one of the lower tiers of The Survivor's Guide to Thriving pyramid – Survival, Discovery or Suffering – there's a pretty good chance that you're not where you could be with your 3Cs. Look for opportunities to clearly design your goals, grow your confidence levels and expand your capacity for achievement. If you can make progress in these three areas, we're sure you'll see improvements in any area of life you apply them.
Need help getting your 3Cs up to speed? Have team members that could use more Clarity, Certainty or Capacity? Check out our training and coaching programs for an added layer of guidance and accountability.
You may also want to check out our free THRIVE Assessment. This tool helps you evaluate how you're doing in the key areas that contribute to a thriving life, so that you can identify opportunities for increased Clarity, Certainty or Capacity.