It’s no good setting a goal that’s dependent on other people or circumstances beyond your control.
Your goal needs to be owned by you. You need to be able to take responsibility for it. There’s no point having a goal you can’t control or affect.
For instance, when people say things to me like:
I want my boss to take me more seriously
Or, I want my girlfriend to show me she loves me
Or, I want my son to show me some respect
I need to help them rephrase their goal so it’s about them and not about another person.
The world and the people around us can throw all sorts of shit at us and there’s nothing we can do about it. The bit we can control is how we respond to what’s being thrown at us. We can choose how to think, feel and behave. Our internal responses to the external world are what we can shape and steer.
I can’t make my boss behave, think and feel differently, I can’t change how my girlfriend behaves towards me and I can’t force my son to respect me. Those people are in control of how they are and behave and I’m wasting my energy if I try to change them.
So, when you’ve followed step 1 in my goal-setting series and have checked that your goal is phrased positively, the next thing to do is to check that you can own it.
So, when someone says I want my boss to take me more seriously, I might say something like:
- And, what kind of person do you need to be for your boss to take you more seriously? Or,
- What do you need to do differently for your boss to take you more seriously?
In answering these questions, you’re reclaiming your ownership of the goal and focusing on what’s within your control. You’re making the goal about you.
Similarly, I could ask
- What kind of person do you need to be for your girlfriend to show you she loves you? Or
- How could you behave differently for your girlfriend to show you she loves you?
Notice the difference between I want my boss to take me more seriously and I need to be more assertive and confident in meetings – I need to speak up more… You can work on assertiveness and confidence. You can practise speaking up more. You can’t force your boss to take you more seriously.
But, the interesting thing is that, as you make the changes you want to make within yourself, as you learn to behave, think and feel differently, this has a ripple effect around you and influences the people around you. So, for example, behaving more confidently in meetings might well get you more respect from colleagues and bosses. The important thing is that your energy and focus is going into you and what you want to achieve for yourself. This can then positively impact your relationships and work dynamics but you need to be working on you for your goal to be both realistic and achievable.