Recently, when I was reviewing some previous goals and where I had got to with them, I came across a quote from teacher and philosopher Confucius. This quote is over 2,500 years old, yet the wisdom is still essential to our contemporary goal setting.
“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.” (Confucius 551-479 B.C.)
We often have a compelling reason or purpose to do something that makes us set goals. These goals can be personal or professional. Although we may have the energy and resources to do it, we also need a simple small step to actually start the process. This first step is to clarify the tiniest action that we can take to get us closer to our goal and this will enable us to inevitably build momentum. Most values-based goals are possible to achieve, but sometimes we are unsuccessful at goal setting when we forget to clarify the simple, small steps that are what are essential in setting us up for our achievement.
Something else that I’ve realised is important for formulating goals, is the concept of self efficacy – a concept developed by psychologist Albert Bandura. Self efficacy involves the beliefs that we have about our own abilities and the capacity to meet the challenges ahead of us. Sometimes we can see a difference between our goal or dream and our own capacity. This is where self efficacy kicks in, because it is a form of self-confidence which embraces an ‘I can handle this’ attitude. It has an empowering effect on us to take that first simple small step towards our goal.