GOAL SETTING: Why you must start at the end for career success

Do you struggle to hit your career goals?

Everyone has heard of goal setting and agrees you need to set goals. However, the process for goal setting has been the subject of much debate.

In my own journey and research, I’ve found people that set goals and achieve them all do one common thing – they start at the end. This means when going through your goal setting process you need focus on the result first. The clearer you define your result the more likely you will achieve it.

Now, I know this sounds counterintuitive.

Let's use a travel analogy to see why this works...

​​​​Imagine you need to travel somewhere

To enable you to do that you first need to know your destination. This is your result.

You will then think about your starting position or your current location. However, your starting position is more than location. It will also include considerations around your knowledge of public transport or perhaps lack of knowledge, do you have the finances to pay for transport, or could you drive there which means you have to have skill of driving.

So your starting position encompasses all your resource considerations and any you lack.

Now you know your destination, and the resources required, the last piece is to fill in the map.

This is your plan and includes all the strategies, tactics and actions that you will take, to get you from your current location to your destination.

Goal Setting Map

OK, so that’s the major pieces of the puzzle your destination or result, your current location or starting position and your map or plan.

How starting at the end helps

Now, we’ve set the scene let’s specifically see how starting at the end and being clear on the result helps.

So firstly, if you don’t know where you are going how do you know if you should catch a bus, train, may be drive? Do you need to borrow money for petrol because the destination is far away and you don’t have the cash?

So, immediately you can see defining the result or in this case destination makes it easier to identify what resources you need and if you have them or need to go get them. This is where a lot of people fail - by having a lack of knowledge around what resources are needed to achieve their goal.

And it pays to pause and make this distinction here clear:

It's NOT A LACK OF RESOURCES that causes failure but a LACK OF KNOWING the resources needed.

The clearer your result the clearer the required resources.

I note, you don't need to have the resources to start, you just need to know your resourceful enough to find them when you need them.

Next, you need to create the map or strategies, tactics and actions to get you to your destination.

So let’s say in this case, you know the destination suburb but not the specific address. From this you might be able to decide you will take a bus but you won't be able to determine which one?

Whilst you can get to the area and move towards your destination . The result is not defined clear enough to determine the specific bus route or action that will take you to get you exactly where you want to go. Without the specific location or clearly defined result you may get somewhere close to where you want to be or may be you just end up wasting your time.

To be confident you are taking the right actions to get to where you want to be. This is also very much dependent on clearly defining your result.

Spend The Extra Time

All in all, I think you can start to see how important starting at the end is, in your goal setting process.

It will pay to spend a little extra time clearly defining your desired result. Because, with a clearly defined result, the answers to 'resource' and 'actions to take' questions almost fall out of the process with very little effort.

And most importantly bring you closer to career success!

Thanks for reading and if you liked this post please share it.

Are you setting smart goals? Check out what the S.M.A.R.T. system of goal setting means and how it can work for you.

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