6 Questions to Ask Before You Pursue Your Goals

From the turn of a page on our calendars to new chapters of life spurred by graduations and career changes, we’re presented with a litany of opportunities to set new goals for ourselves. Expanding our potential, however, is rooted in setting the right attainable goals. Stretching to the type of goal that grows into a life you love takes more effort than your typical resolution-setting process. Before you leap into identifying where you think you should be headed in the short and long term, take a moment to ask yourself these questions.

What is important to me?

Lose weight. Get organized. Land a job. Climb the corporate ladder. Don’t just dip into the grab bag of standard resolutions. If you want to set an obtainable goal that propels you forward, you need to be setting one that is meaningful to you. Why is this target important to you? How does it move you closer to becoming the person you want to be? Does it help you carve out your niche in the world? If you can’t put a finger on why this goal matters, it’s not one you should be pursuing.

How will I define success?

There is more to reaching your goals than checking off the box. Meaningful, achievable goals are personal, and so is the successful completion of them. Define your own parameters. Keep in mind, however, that a meaningful goal (and successful completion of it) should also be more than a numbers game. Increasing your sales by 15% is an admirable target, but that’s not the same as a goal designed to help you grow as a professional. Falling short of a numerical target doesn’t mean you haven’t developed new skills or laid the groundwork for future growth.

Is this a goal or a stepping stone?

Too often we become fixated on small targets with very definitive desired outcomes. While there is value to committing to something like, “Make 5 new business contacts a month” or “Lose 30 pounds by June,” those are likely stepping stones to something bigger. Your real goal may be to expand your professional network or to live a healthier lifestyle. The more specific targets are part of the process of how you’ll get there. Understanding the nuances between the two categories can be the difference in staying focused on your goals and giving up on them before you’re a month into your journey.

What do I need to be successful?

You’re about to board a plane for your dream vacation. You’re not boarding empty-handed. You’ve taken the time to research the climate at your destination, as well as the requirements for any activities you’ll be participating in while there. You’ve packed a bag with the clothes you’ll need. You’ve made sure you have your camera, your phone charger, the proper shoes, and an array of other assorted items the trip requires. Reaching your goals is a lot like taking that vacation. Before you set out on the journey to achieve these targets, understand what tools you’ll need to be successful and arm yourself with them. Do you need to develop new skills? Will you benefit from membership in a professional organization? Do you need to meet certain milestones to reach the end of this path? Define the journey, not just the destination.

Who will help me along the way?

You’re never in this alone. You’ll need mentors and contributors along the way. As you draft your roadmap to success, identify your potential guides, cheerleaders, and support system. Get them onboard before you begin to tackle your goal.

What roadblocks, potholes, and detours might I encounter?

In truth, you won’t be able to predict every potential hiccup along the way. There will be surprises. Recognizing some of the potential challenges will help you prepare to address issues as they arise. Go into this pursuit ready to embrace flexibility. That could mean adjusting your stepping stone targets. It could mean revamping your entire roadmap. It might even mean deciding your goal was off-target to begin with and you’re better off culling the lessons you can from it and then moving on to something more in line with helping you reach the life you love. Bonus tip: Declaring your goals can help you retain focus. Giving voice to your goals and plans can help you stay accountable and on target. Take some time to answer the questions above and then join me on LinkedIn to share where you’re headed. I’m happy to help cheer you on as you make your way to your personally defined finish line!