For those of you just joining, we’re in the middle of a series on setting goals you actually achieve. You can catch up on Step 1 and Step 2 here, and can join the email list to get access to free downloadable worksheets at the bottom of the post.

This week, we’re going to be getting practical. As I mentioned in Step 1, I’ve got a bit of a history of relying on logic and willpower to try and achieve my goals. Whilst this hasn’t exactly been ruinous, if I had known better how to identify what to apply my logic and willpower to, I would have had quicker and easier success.

Today’s exercise is designed to help us do exactly that – get quicker and easier success, in the long-term. It uses logic, but drills down deeper than usual, moving from how you want to feel and be in a particular area to identifying what you would need to overcome in order to get there. It’s inspired in part by some of the thinking I’ve come across when I’ve had training on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. It is also inspired in part by the fantastic interview Chalene Johnson gave on the Being Boss podcast.

The exercise will also highlight limitations, which we’ll address in greater detail later. After all, whilst some of life is about shifting things in order to grow towards where we’re meant to be, some of it is also about accepting where we are and embracing that with grace, gratitude and dignity.

Exercise 1: “And What Would That Take?”

Page 1 of the worksheet has examples of this exercise.

Page 2 of the worksheet is set up for you to fill in.

Start this exercise by revisiting Step 1. Choose one of the things that you said you would like to feel or be and ask yourself the question: “What would that take?” Write down your answer, and then ask yourself, again, about that answer, “and what would that would take?” Write down that answer, then ask yourself what that would take.

For example, perhaps you said that you would like to feel connected to your kids.

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by Pixabay user PublicDomainPictures

–> And what would that take?

  • spending more time with them

–> And what would that take?

  • having more time at home in the evenings while they’re awake

–> And what would that take?

  • getting home from work earlier

–> And what would that take?

  • a frank conversation with my boss and some hardcore accountability

–> And what would that take?

  • courage

–> And what would that take?

You get the idea.

Here’s another example:

Maybe you said you would like to feel fit and strong.

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by stocksnap.io user Scott Webb

–> Well, what would that take?

  • Exercise, preferably something I enjoy, like running in the early morning (this is a fictional example, clearly!)

–> And what would that take?

  • Getting up earlier, and some decent trainers

–> And what would that take?

  • Getting up earlier would take going to bed earlier
  • Investing money in trainers would take talking to my partner about our budget

–> And what would that take?

  • Going to bed earlier would take accountability to start ‘winding down’ earlier

Eventually, if you keep drilling down, you will probably hit a point where it doesn’t make sense to keep asking the question “and what would that take?” For example, it usually doesn’t make sense to ask “what would it take to talk to your partner about money.” The answer for lots of people would simply be “Uh, talking to my partner wouldn’t ‘take’ anything – except actually doing it.”

If you can drill down to the point where the question doesn’t really make sense any more and you can do so reasonably quickly then great. If not, don’t worry – even asking the question four or five times will give you a lot of useful information.

Once you’ve done this exercise for one of your desired ‘feelings,’ pick another one and do it again.

I know it might feel overwhelming to do this for all the different areas, but don’t spend too long on each. I timed myself doing this exercise, and I spent about 3-4 minutes on each ‘feeling,’ so you could probably do a few a day without it being too overwhelming. You don’t have to work out exactly what everything would look like, just write down what you think it would take (and if you think that thing is not possible write down what it would take to make it possible).

Exercise 2: Coding Commonalities

Once you’ve done Exercise 1 on all the areas of your life that you mentioned in Step 1, skim over what you’ve written in your exercises, and see if there are any answers that crops up again and again in across your different answers. Highlight, or “code,” each repetitive concept in a different colour. For example, you might use

  • “blue” to highlight every time you mentioned “leave work earlier,”
  • “yellow” to highlight every time you mentioned “exercise,”
  • “green” to highlight every time you wrote “accountability” and
  • “red” for every time you said “well, that would take more money”

That’s it for Step 3! I know this is pretty in depth stuff, and not just your usual ‘resolution’ type goal-setting. For me, this is a way of addressing some of those things that have been bugbears for years and that it’s time to simply nail. You can follow me on Facebook or Twitter (or Google Plus if you prefer) where I post thoughts that come up as I go through the exercises myself as well as more content, tips, quotes and pictures.

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by stocksnap.io user Dave Meier

These exercises are also a way of getting to know yourself, which is usually worth it, so pour yourself a glass of your preferred beverage, carve out a quiet half hour to yourself, and enjoy it.

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Featured image by Amanda Sandlin of Unsplash