The Top 10 Questions to Ask Your Goals

Human beings are goal-seeking creatures. We are impatient and try, and fall, and try again until we learn to walk. We babble and coo and struggle until we learn to talk. Skinned knees mean nothing in the quest to ride a bicycle. Recently, the world has watched Olympic athletes over-come incredible obstacles in the quest for a medal. When a client tells me they have had a goal, but in the past 6 months they have made little or no progress towards achieving it, I encourage them to ask themselves the following 10 questions:

1. Do I really, really want this goal? It may sound nice, it may be something I should have or might enjoy, but do I really, deep in my soul, want it? Or, not?

2. Is the goal actually just a means to some other goal? Is my stated goal really a way to look good, or to please someone, or a handy excuse to work on something that sounds wonderful while I avoid something I don't want to do? Great-sounding goals can be a marvelous distraction!

3. Is this goal consistent with my morals and values? Often there is a subtle, unnoticed conflict between our stated goals and our values. For instance, the concept of "fair profit" may be causing confusion, or we may be caught between our goals of building a business and our values of spending more time at home.

4. Is this goal consistent with my beliefs about myself and my abilities? The years of training and total commitment to winning an Olympic medal are only possible if the athlete profoundly believes they have the potential to succeed. Doubts about what is "possible", or beliefs that life is unfair will undermine performance every time.

5. Why do I want this goal? Having many solid, vitally important reasons for our goals will drive us more powerfully than anything else. "I want to be a doctor to save a child's life" is a very different reason to stay up and study all night than "because being a doctor might be fun." Why do you want this goal, and how badly do you want it?

6. Who else wants me to attain my goal? Knowing that family, friends, business partners or the entire world is cheering for us, counting on us and supporting us is critically important. Who else knows about and wants you to achieve your success?

7. How, specifically, will I benefit from achieving my goal? Being clear and specific about the benefits that will come from completing our goals is a powerful motivator. "Reducing my blood pressure will help me live to see my grandchildren" is very different than "If I do this, my doctor will stop criticizing me."

8. What one critical step can I take today that will move me toward my goal? Some goals are so large or so far off that they are really just dreams or fantasies. A useful goal is one you can work on today. Make an appointment, open a savings account, eat a salad for lunch, tell your spouse you love them ? whatever your goal, find a specific task you can do today, and then just repeat it a few thousand times!

9. Are there smaller projects that will both lead to my larger goal, and give me pleasure in the meantime? If the goal is to run a marathon, train for a local fun-run first! If the goal is to be a millionaire, getting the first $10,000 in the bank is a worthwhile and useful start.

10. Depending on your answers to the first 9 questions, the 10th question is: "Is there another goal, or another version of this goal, that is really much more important and much more doable?" If the first 9 questions haven't motivated you to action and created tangible, specific results, then ask number 10. Humans naturally seek and accomplish large goals, but we do best when the goal is tailored to our values, priorities and personal situation.

Copyright 2003 by Philip E. Humbert. All Rights Reserved. This article may be copied and used in your own newsletter or on your website as long as you include the following information: "Written by Dr. Philip E. Humbert, writer, speaker and success coach. Dr. Humbert has over 300 free articles, tools and resources for your success, including a great newsletter! It's all on his website at:

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