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The four steps to achieving goals

The four steps to achieving goals

The working environment is extremely goal and output orientated. Leaders often ask for things to be done or specify goals to be attained within a predetermined timeline. They may share some words of advice or make suggestions, but after that it’s up to the employee to figure out the planning process and actions needed to get the job done. That’s all well and good if the employee knows how to perform the entire task. If we look at the action diagram, it’s apparent that there are core phases to the process of goal-attainment.

Phase 1: Goal transfer and development

The goal has most likely been set by the leader and is an organisational goal and an external task request. The employee must convert this external task to an internal one for themselves. It’s often a process where the employee must figure out how to transform the goal into something that has meaning and value to them. If the employee can redefine the task, then we can move on to phase 2. However, if this is not possible, then procrastination is likely to set in as the concept of “what’s in it for me” is not satisfied.

Phase 2: Planning

The most important phase. The goal is split into specific steps that follow certain sequences. It’s important to be clear on what actions are needed and when to progress towards the goal; perhaps visually drawing the flow of actions to be performed and by when. The visual view enables one to identify order and challenges. Each item can be further broken down into sub-sections such as resources needed, ordering of items, delivery time, communication with a team member, etc. to prevent bottle necks.

Phase 3: Execution and action

This is where execution and action of the planning stage takes shape. We are now moving into physical doing and creating momentum in the various tasks. People might jump into this phase and do the planning as they go along. It might work, but it might severely backfire as challenges that may be encountered along the way are not taken into consideration.

Phase 4: Feedback

Feedback is required to establish the progress made, and if there has been any deviation from the goal. The feedback comes from two streams: the external environment such as the leader or others and one’s own internal self-evaluation. Positive feedback will encourage one to continue with the action plan. Negative feedback, if delivered correctly, should motivate one to review and assess the process and to modify actions and then move towards the goal.

Herein lies the challenge! Very few people learn this process. We just assume that everyone knows how to convert goals for personal meaning, planning, action and reassessment processes. Think about it, it’s a learned life skill which is not necessarily taught in schools, colleges or universities. Some people have tried and didn’t get it right, and eventually gave up. There is a struggle to commit to goals, and it’s easy to give up and get distracted, which results in procrastination and leaders will therefore become frustrated with the employee.

The suggestion we have is for leaders to not take work tasks away from struggling employees, but rather to train and teach them the cognitive skills to devise plans that enable them to meet goals. Assisting employees to understand and identify problems effectively will bear phenomenal fruit in the long term. Don’t assume people know how to plan. Empower employees to be the initiator of their own goals and actions.


Goal transfer and development
Execute and action









Starting 2017 with the right mindset will help you stick to your New Year’s resolutions

Starting 2017 with the right mindset will help you stick to your New Year’s resolutions

The year is just about done! You’ve survived another twelve months that at some times felt like time was flying past and other times was dragging. For some, 2016 was a magical year while for others a challenging one. Either way, we’ll all agree that it was an adventurous year filled with unexpected events, surprise outcomes, joyful moments and heart-breaking sadness. Like a good soap opera… a bit of something for everyone.

December is usually a time for reflection where we look back over the past year, and look forward to the new one. We savour moments, events and people who made the year unique and special, and think about personal changes that we need to make or things that we want to do differently next year. We all have dreams and goals; some are large and will take proper planning while others are small. Then there are those niggly behaviours that we want to change; we want to stop this or that and start something else. Both involve that dreaded word “change”!

Planning on setting goals

Even with the best intentions, we sometimes don’t move forward towards change. We’ve got the willpower and desire, but external factors get in our way. We need to learn to prepare and expect these external factors and work with or around them. You may not be able to control your external environment; however, you can control how you choose to perceive them.

Are these factors excuses or opportunities?

Are they moments to be flexible, and realign our thinking so that we can achieve our goals?

The path to goal attainment is like a treasure hunt. You know you’ll get to the finish line but on the way, you encounter challenges, detours and obstacles. That’s life – it doesn’t flow in a straight line.

As you reflect on what changes you want to make next year, take some time to answer these 10 questions will crystalize your way forward and help you stick to your New Year’s resolutions:

What precisely do I want to change?

  1. What will I gain from the change?
  2. Out of a score of 1 to 10, how much do I value the outcome?
  3. What are my options to reach my goal?
  4. How am I going to track my progress?
  5. Whose support can I count on?
  6. What will indicate that I am stuck?
  7. When am I going to start?
  8. What action am I going to take in the next 3 hours, 3 days and 3 months?
  9. Who is going to partner with me and hold me accountable?

Often, we don’t have the discipline to hold ourselves accountable. It’s human nature to find reasons when we start going off track. We don’t have the willpower to stay outside of our comfort zone, and it takes loads of energy to persistently do something differently and progress is at a snail’s pace.

When you’re working towards stretch ‘Everest goals’ it is advisable to have a coach and mentor by your side. It’s important to do this right from the start and not only when it gets tough. Find someone to cheer you on, be your sounding board and raise you up when you are feeling low.

If you need assistance in setting your 2017 goals or want a coach to support and motivate you, please send an email to info@4seeds.co.za. Alternatively contact us for our coaching package specials.