How To Get What You Want

How To Get What You Want

Check out this great article written by Dr Lisa Hone on the power of goal setting and the importance of having someone to support you through this process.

This is exactly what I do with my client’s during our 1:1 Health and Wellness Coaching sessions.

Have a read and see what you think.

Lucy Hone: How to get what you want

Alden Williams/Fairfax NZ

Research academic Dr Lucy Hone has a weekly advice column, Help Yourself.

As I’ve done the rounds of various schools and businesses over the past weeks, talking to staff and students about how to live happier and more productive lives, the topic of goal setting has come up. It’s not unusual at this time of year when employers are setting KPIs (key performance indicators, for those not up on corporate lingo) and parents are being invited to parent-teacher meetings. And it’s not just jargon; there’s considerable research showing goal setting works as a way to get what you want at work and in life.


Goal setting alone, however, is an insufficient predictor of success. Applied randomly, it’s just one more doomed New Year’s resolution.

While management usually has a good understanding of the importance of “SMART” goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound), an appreciation of goal planning is much less evident in the organisations I visit.

This is a grave oversight.

Rick Snyder and Shane Lopez are two psychologists who’ve dedicated their careers to investigating the relationship between hope and goal pursuit. They talk about “will power” and “way power”. Will power, concerns our motivation, self-belief and the need for us to be in tune with why the goal is meaningful to us.

Way power, on the other hand, refers to our ability to find a way around obstacles, to navigate challenges and overcome setbacks. In short, all the will in the world won’t get us to where we want to be, unless we’re practical about finding the way.


The power of hope, while easily dismissed as tree-hugging mumbo jumbo, is not to be underestimated.

According to Lopez, a hopeful student is likely to achieve an entire academic grade higher than a less hopeful student of equal IQ. A hopeful worker is so much more productive than less hopeful colleagues they can afford to clock off an hour and half earlier each day.

Genuine hope is the opposite of day-dreaming. It tends to bring focus. When planning goals, hopeful people recognise the futility of juggling a dozen priorities, selecting just two or three meaningful pursuits at a time.


The key steps to goal planning then are:

1. Ensure you have a shortlist of goals. Eliminate the ones that don’t really mean something to you.

2. Dedicate time to thinking about realising them – the process, the likely obstacles and your way around them.

3. Don’t go it alone. Ask for (emotional and relational) support and (practical) assistance; and

4. Reassess as you go.

This last one is big, says Lopez.

“Re-goaling is a critical strategy of a very hopeful person. Sometimes that’s how we truly achieve resilience, we change the outcome we’re searching for just a little bit and then we figure out that there’s a better, more doable path to that outcome and live to fight another day.”


Finally, I’d like to emphasise hoping and wishing are not the same thing. Yes, they both involve anticipating the future will be better, but hopeful people recognise achieving goals is hard work and requires multiple strategies; wishful people take a more passive approach, thinking about the goal, writing it down perhaps, but not doing much else.

Wishing in this way has a domino effect: not only do wishers not achieve their goals, but the experience undermines the will power they dedicate to subsequent goals. Wishing and failing becomes a pattern. Wishing is destructive; hoping is productive.

I’m reminded of our dear Abi, who dreamed of being an Olympic swimmer. When challenged by her dad over her lack of significant pool time, she retorted, “That’s why it’s called a dream Dad, not a goal, just a dream”.

 – Stuff