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The “What –If?”  of Goal Setting

Last week, I spent time talking about the “which” of goal setting as it related to identifying which obstacles might keep you from attaining the goal you have set.  This is all part of looking at the entire process of working towards our goals.  Once you’ve identified what obstacles you might face, then you want to create possible solutions to fall back on, should those obstacles arise.

In project management, this would be similar to risk planning. How much time you spend here depends on the probability that the obstacle will arise, as well as the impact it will have if it does arise.  If there’s a high probability that you’ll run into the obstacle you’ve identified, then you will want to give greater consideration to planning a solution for it.  Let’s say that you want to take a web design class.  You’ve never studied anything like this subject before, and you’re concerned that there will be material that you just don’t understand.  If that’s the case, then you might begin to consider your options.  You want to spend time now, not just thinking about the solution, but putting the pieces of it together. That way, when you’re in the middle of the journey, you don’t have to stop and try to figure it things out in the heat of the battle or worse, under the stress of last minute damage control.

In this case, before you sign up for the class, you could do a number of different things.  First, you could try to convince your friend who designs websites for a living to commit to helping you with coursework when and if you get stuck. Second, you could ask the school for a list of appropriate tutors who work with students studying that curriculum. Then, you could call a couple of them ahead of time to find out availability, fees, and any other pertinent information.  Third, you could ask your instructor to recommend a few helpful books or reference materials that you could read prior to the beginning of your class to help you prepare.  Fourth, you could get with someone else who’s already taken the class and ask that person his opinion on the level of difficulty of the material.  That person could possibly work with you on the material that you might struggle with, or he might know someone else that could help you out if you get stuck.  In this situation, another solution would to take some type of preliminary or prerequisite course before attending the actual web design course you listed as your goal.

When you start to examine possible solutions to an obstacle you think you’ll face, you’re on the way to setting yourself up for success, not failure.  You will be more confident because you already have solutions in play. You will feel more “in control” of your situation because you’ve thought through it on a deeper level.  When you feel like you’re in control, you naturally feel more confident.  Think about this proactive process… it’s just like making sure you have the car gassed up and the oil changed before you begin a long road trip.  The point is to buy your AAA membership before you even put the key in the ignition!

Next Week: The “How Will I Know” of Goal Setting