“Commit When You Are Committed”
by Laura Worth, MSW
Encore Life Coach
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 research by social psychologists 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” means preparation.
In the “Get Set,” second phase, 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, time-line charts, calendars, and budgets. I begin to identify resources at my disposal, including logistical, financial, 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.
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. In order 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.
Problems are 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 or not.
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”.
The meaning behind my goal.
Is this a goal that is worth my time? These questions will generate positive frames for my goal. In order to pursue a goal successfully, it’s best to find ways to “frame” the goal as something to move forward to rather than run away from. The classic example is loosing weight by pursuing fitness and a sense of well being, rather than focusing on feelings of repulsion about extra weight.
Begin preliminary 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’s 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, specializing in helping clients creatively plan and develop their next meaningful life changes. Emerging opportunities for transformational encores resonate with personal continuities of purpose, core values, and character strengths through encore life coaching. For more than 20 years Laura has offered individual and group-based coaching, workshops, book groups, and topical classes. She coaches in-person, by phone, and by e-mail.