In life coaching, one of the things I want to make sure the folks I’m working with do is choose goals and action items which are attainable. When we say attainable here, we have a meaning a little different than the dictionary definition. When we say attainable, we mean a goal or action item that doesn’t depend on someone else choosing to do something. For instance, this is not an attainable goal:
By the end of the year, I am going on a date with Jamie .
This goal depends on Jamie to say yes. An appropriate goal would be:
By the end of the year, I will ask Jamie out on a date.
This is attainable because the action is solely dependent on the one setting the goal. The hope is that Jamie will say yes. However, we cannot count on Jamie to do so.
“No one can persuade another to change. Each of us guards a gate of change that can only be opened from the inside. We cannot open the gate of another, either by argument or by emotional appeal.” – Marilyn Ferguson
Therefore, when you set your goals and determine your action items, say them back to yourself. Is that goal/action item completely within your power? For instance, if you say, “I want to be promoted at my next annual review,” that’s not completely within your power. What is within your power is this goal, “By my next annual review, I want to have improved myself to have an opportunity for promotion.” That, of course, would then set you to looking at what the criteria are that will likely be considered. You can then take the next step and evaluate yourself in those criteria and set a method for improvement. If you aren’t promoted but you did all the things you thought were necessary for promotion, you haven’t failed your goal. Something like a promotion is more than just about the individual. The second goal takes this fact into account.