photo by Angie Torres
I was recently working with a client, who we will call “Joe”. Joe asked, “I am starting to wonder if I am on the right path. I have a set of goals, but I can’t really tell if I working towards them. I know I am working hard, but I don’t know if I am moving forward. How can I tell if I am doing the right work and making progress, or just spinning my wheels avoid the real work because I am afraid of it?”
This is a thoughtful question.
When it comes to judging our success there are two types of goals: those that are easy to measure and those that are hard to measure. As we talked it became clear that Joe’s problem stemmed from the fact that he was dealing with goals that were hard to measure.
Let’s look at both types to identify the problem and how we can respond.
Easy To Measure Goals
Examples of easily measurable goals are:
- Lose 25 lb
- Sell $3000 in products this month
- Run a 5km race
- Complete my college degree
The nature of these types of goals make them easy to measure. It is clear how much weight we have lost, how much we have sold, and if we have completed something like a degree or a race. Because these are easy to measure judging our progress and taking clear steps towards them is straightforward.
When the steps are clear it is easier to figure out where our emotional blocks are around the actions that we aren’t taking and to work our way through the issues that cause us to sabotage our progress.
Hard To Measure Goals
Examples of hard to measure goals are:
- Improve my mental health
- Increase my self esteem
- Deepen my spiritual practice
- Be more present to my partner
These are wonderful goals and great things to work towards but Joe’s question is important. How can you tell if you are really moving towards these goals when progress is not easily measurable?
To assist with this we can use a simple three step process, first to help us to see a clearer path to achieving these goals, and second to identify the emotional blocks we need to clear in order to move forward.
1) Name the proof that we have achieved our goal
Even though it is difficult to name how we can tell when we have reached a goal that is hard to measure, it is often easier to name the desired outcomes of these goals. Let’s take the goal “Increase my self esteem”. Even though I can’t measure my self esteem I know what my day looks like when I feel better about myself.
It might look like this:
- I make more eye contact with my co-workers
- I give my opinion at work
- I ask the waiter to have my order fixed when they bring me the wrong meal
- I end my phone conversation with my friend when she starts to belittle me
All of these outcomes are measurable and because they are measurable we can start to gauge if we are just tapping for an issue, or really doing the important work needed before we can move forward.
In the first step take some time to come up with a list of how you can tell if you are achieving a hard to measure goal. I would encourage you to come up with a list of 10 ways to measure each of these goals.
2) Identify the strategic and emotional blocks to achieving the outcomes
For each of the measurable outcomes ask yourself these 4 questions. Please write out your answers.
* What steps I can take right now to achieve this outcome?
* What emotions do I feel and thoughts do I have when I read the outcome out loud?
* What will I lose,both positive and negative, if I achieve these outcomes?
* What are the possible negative consequences for these outcomes?
Don’t rush through your answers. Give yourself time to be thoughtful.
3) Tap through your answers
If you have responded thoughtfully to the first two parts of the exercise you now have a useful script to tap through. Instead of treating this like a traditional tapping script where you simply read each line and tap, I want you to take a little more time.
Read a sentence out loud as you tap and sit with the statement for a few moments. Pay attention to the thoughts and emotions that arise. After a few moments move on to the next phrase.
It is important that we have clearly defined measurable goals, but some goals by nature are hard to measure. If we spend time figuring out how to measure what success can look like and clear the emotional blocks to achieving these outcomes we will be able to move continually toward our goals.
I would love to hear your experience with this process in the comment section below.