Avoiding a road to nowhere

by Iain Hopkins30 May 2012

In absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia” - anon.

 When was the last time you thought about your goals? Not just career goals but life goals? Perhaps this was something you did when you were young and hungry but either those goals have been achieved, circumstances have changed, or they’ve been filed away in the back of your mind. Why are goals important, what is the best way to work towards them, and why is having a vision important to pull it all together?

Core values

To answer those questions it’s necessary to go back to basics. Shannah Kennedy, executive life strategist and author of Simplify Structure Succeed: A Modern Practical Toolkit for Life Strategy, says the first thing she asks any athlete, CEO, executive, business owner or employee who comes to her for life coaching tips, is what are your core values? This, she says, is the foundation of a person. “It’s what is important to you, really – not what you think should be important, but what actually is important to you. This can take some time as you may not have connected with yourself for a while or been focused just on just achieving at work.”

 She cites an example. If the answer comes back that you value family, Kennedy will build in some questions around how the family perceives you, what you want to be to the family and what you still need to work on. If family is at the core of your values, why are you putting them last? The same applies to economic security. Why are you so hell bent on achieving budget – which is great – but have no idea of my cost of living, no idea of my long-term investment objectives, and have no real respect for your own money?

 Kennedy will sit with clients and go through a process of elimination from about 30 values down to three. “From there, any decisions made need to add to your values rather than take away,” she says.

 Kennedy says it’s vital to first strip away all the marketing and programming that individuals build up, and then to seek clarity around what you want. “Taking the time to understand what you want in the next decade seems quite indulgent but it’s one of the most important things we can do in life if we want to take the right opportunities. I think 80% of opportunities are a distraction when you truly understand what you want in life.”

Kennedy says that light bulbs often go on at this point. “Once you structure time around your own brand and financial status it gets people motivated. You find yourself wanting to perform at work as it now has meaning and purpose to feed personal goals as well.”

 Kennedy finds that personal and work issues overlap “95% of the time”. Enquiries frequently initially focus on work prospects: how do I create a path of excellence for myself, and what tips can be provided for clarity, goal setting, direction and succession planning. Then, invariably, it moves into life balance issues and energy issues. “All parts are integrated as our clarity and structure needs to be built around the whole person so they can perform at their best,” she adds.

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