Goals are Just Problems That You Dress Up and Take to the Party

Goals Are Just Problems That You Dress Up and Take to the Party

Goals and problems are just two ways of looking at a challenge.  Goals are challenges that you generally want to attain and problems are issues that you want to get rid of.  You set goals to lose weight, make quota, or go to President’s Club.  Problems are often what other people give to you; a customer complaint, a difficult assignment, or a project that is failing.  Goals can become a problem if you don’t attain them, but they are all challenges.

Whether you view events as goals or problems is an age-old dilemma – the glass half full conundrum.  You will become more successful when you look at goals and problems as just challenges that you need to accomplish.

It’s always the big stuff that gets in the way.  Stuff – it’s big and scary, it’s unknown, it’s new, and often it’s a challenge that you just don’t want to do it.  Here’s how to get stuff done – start at the end, slice and dice, and use the process of Awareness, Action, and Accountability; with the foundation of Desire, Tools/Skills, and Structure to ensure success.


  1. Identify
  2. Slice and dice
  3. Communicate
  4. Assign
  5. Do

Step 1:  Identify your challenge.  Don’t label it as a goal or a problem – don’t give the project power through word association.  Write down your challenge.

Step 2: Slice and dice.  Find separate projects or steps that can be worked on individually so that your challenge doesn’t seem so large.  Write these steps down.

Remember those mazes you would do as a child.  Starting at the end and tracing back to start was the uncomplicated way to solve the maze.  No dead ends and no wandering around to find the right outcome.

Solving work challenges is somewhat the same process – work backwards.  Achievement is usually a linear flow, so imagine the end and work backwards.  Visualize the result and then picture what happened right before that stage, and keep working backward until you reach your current state.

As you move backward write down the elements of your challenge – who, what, where, when, how and who.  What happens when you accomplish your challenge, what happens if you don’t, who needs to be involved, when is it due (timeline), and why must you be successful.

You are creating awareness.  You have identified the Big Challenge, the smaller projects, and all the elements.  Whether this is an individual goal or one that involves others in your organization, the process is almost the same.  This is the strategy stage where you are identifying the big steps.

Step 3:  Communicate – keep the awareness alive.  You have awareness because you have identified your Big Challenge and written everything down.  Now, tell people around you about this challenge – this is essential if you need others to help with the outcome.  Here’s why I like calling the Big Stuff a Challenge – people love to talk about their goals and aspirations, and often other people like to hear about them because it gives them hope for their goals.  People don’t like to talk about their problems, and if they do other people don’t want to hear about them.  A challenge can be accepted.

If this is an individual challenge then let others know what you are working on and ask them to check in with you on your progress.  If this is a team project then make sure that everyone knows the who, what, when, where, how and why of the project.  Communication and expectations are the core of awareness.

Step 4: Assign – who is doing what, and when.  With awareness of the Challenge you now can have an informed action plan.  Let others know what they need to be doing.  Let others know what you should be doing.  Have mutual expectations – don’t assume that someone is completing a segment of the project when they don’t know about it or don’t have the ability to complete it.  This is a stage that requires extreme communication.   A lack of communication causes a lot of projects to fail.

Step 5: Do – this is the tactical stage.  What are the exact actions you are going to take so that each component meshes into a successful event.  Communication is essential at this stage – not micromanagement, but accountability and communication.  Track accountability – let everyone know what they are accountable for and verify that you have a mutual agreement with them that they are completing their portion as needed and on time

Even the best plans go off track, and when they do use Desire, Tools/Skills and Structure as the investigation process.

Create desire for attaining the goals.  Desire is enforced through open communication of the elements for the project – the who, what, when, where, when, how, and why.  There is greater desire when you and your team know why the challenge is to be reached.

Verify that everyone has the tools and the skills to use them for the successful completion of the project.  People lose desire when they don’t know how to do something.  Put structure in place – let everyone know when the project due and in what format will the project be delivered.

Dress up your problems as goals, but introduce them as challenges.  Then use this process for success.

To find out more about this process or to have a training session with your team reach out to Hastings Growth Team to discuss the details.








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