Goal Coaching & Goal Diagnosis © Martyn Carruthers 1993

Online Help: Coaching, Counseling & Soulwork Therapy

Do you know how to define goals?
Relationship goals are more than a sum of individual goals.
Defining and fulfilling relationship goals is essential for healthy relationships.

SMART goals (an acronym used by Ken Blanchard in The One Minute Manager)
are useful to know, should by chance you meet people with them.

Do you define your goals? Or do you go through life with an abstract sense of direction? Do you sometimes feel conflict about your goals? Or do you just avoid the things you don’t want?

Most goals we hear (even from helping professionals) seem rather abstract or superficial, e.g. “I want to feel better about my work“. To begin, we help people define their goals as best they can, and then we can fill in the details and plan their fulfillment. However, we would expect your goals to change and transform during the planning process as you better realize what you truly want.

Our goalwork is not to find a sequence of upbeat words … we would rather see and hear the non-verbal signals that we call goal physiology – a sense of high motivation and integrity (e.g. vertical congruent posture and “shining” eyes) without nonverbal objections (e.g. headshakes / nose rubbing / scratches etc).

Think of a dog who sees a cat! That high-energy posture and focus is unmistakable.

Desire as a Path to Integrity

With careful goal definition, people are often surprised to find wonderful goals. Then they say things like, “I always wanted that but I could never say it before”.

We explored what I wanted … until suddenly I knew what I really wanted …
it was something so wonderful that I never dared dwell on it …
the pain of wanting it but not having it was horrible …
I want to feel enthusiastic about my life!

Your desires can include discovering and experiencing your deepest self! Consider:

  • Why are you here?
  • What is your life purpose?
  • What makes sense in your life?
  • How will you know that you are fulfilling your life?

These questions may seem ridiculous – or they may seem worthy of contemplation and discussion. Your first answers may not seem to relate to your normal, everyday life. Yet your life consists of normal everyday days. Here is a normal everyday question: What do you really want?

Useful Goals

Do you begin goal sentences with “I want…”. Or do you say things like “It’s important that…”, “It would be nice if…” or “People like me need…”.

Such statements may not reflect what you want, but what you want other people to think  that you believe. Do you have beliefs like, “It’s bad to say what you want” or “If you say what you want you offend people” or “What’s the point – I can’t get it anyway”.

During our session you commented that whenever you asked me what I wanted …
I would complain. It was not easy to start sentences with “I want” …
but since I did, my world is changing.

Useful goals provide direction and motivation, yet to get to useful goals, you may require information that is neither logical or conscious. Many people go into dream-like states as they consider their life goals. We call this dreaming together or Dreamwork.

Defining Goals

Most useful goals are specific, for example:

  • a wish to complete a specific activity
  • an objective to own an item not currently owned
  • a desire to experience a certain feeling or emotion in some context

Most useful goals include specific actions at a specific times. Abstract goals e.g. I want to feel good all the time often indicate general areas in which your goal might exist. (I often say that an abstract goal is the skin of a goal – stuffed with conflicts).

Another type of goal is a complaint, often in the form “I don’t want …” or “I feel bad about …” Complaints usually reflect unpleasant feelings, e.g.:

  • statements about perceived conditions (e.g. I feel bad about my parents)
  • statements with a negative grammar (e.g. I don’t want to feel bad about …)

Conflicting goals take a few forms. Some simple conflicts are:

  • I want A and B
  • I want A so that B
  • I want Person A to do Action B

I often write down complex goals exactly as spoken. Then I and my client can carefully dissect the goals and create a sequence of steps until I see goal physiology. I may not need to know all the details … the client knows them and that’s enough.

Complex goals are commonplace. A recent example was, “I don’t want my brother to sell our house and to smarten up so that I can do something useful instead of just goofing off”.

The above complex goal when defined became something like … “I want to feel motivated when I ask my brother to cooperate with me to clean out the attic so that I can build an attic apartment as a step towards buying his share of our parent’s home“. It is not yet a useful plan (how to clean out / where to put the junk / how to build an apartment / buy a share for what price etc) but it is a lot more useful if you want to decide what to do next.

You may want a bigger house, more happiness, less suffering. Maybe you may want a romantic holiday in Hawaii or to get a new car.

Such answers may reflect your current needs. Yet, if pursued, your goals will lead to questions of purpose and meaning. When your goals reflect your chosen life purpose – your goals will be meaningful and achieving them will be fulfilling.

What do you NOT want?

Do you only know what you don’t want? Maybe you don’t want to be unhappy. This thought will likely accompany images of unhappiness. Ask yourself “What do I want instead of being unhappy?”

Then the questions, “How will you know if you are happy?” or What will convince you that you have enough money?” make sense. If you dwell on negative goals or comparisons – you may be excluding important parts of yourself from your decisions.

I check if I want to coach each person to reach their goals.
I do not help people achieve goals that I consider illegal,
distasteful or that may hurt children.

What do you want NEXT?

Do you have “double wishes”? Do you want money and freedom? Do you want a university degree so that you can find self-respect? Do you want someone to do something for you so that you know they care? Double-wishes usually indicate conflict.

We explore the advantages of achieving both goals – even if their simultaneous fulfillment is impossible! What would become possible for you if you could achieve both those goals – simultaneously? This often leads to dreaming together to help people find more important goals. (See Double Wishes)

Achieving what goals would convince you that you are fulfilling your life?

Unresolved issues such as parental alienation or emotional incest cause or support internal conflict, which can sabotage your ability to fulfill your dreams and goals.

Contact us to manage your emotions, solve relationship issues,
pursue your dreams and fulfill your visions

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