When coaching people, I have learned that most of the time people need help clarifying their goals. As Tony Robbins always says, clarity is power. Clarity is powerful because without it, we struggle to figure out a first or next step. With no step, there isn’t much that we can do to act. No action, no progress. No progress, no momentum or motivation.

My coach once told me that any GPS or maps app cannot plot out directions without knowing where you are and where you want to go. That really got me thinking more deeply about the goal mapping metaphor.

Thinking about the destination

While traveling in Europe, I noticed cab drivers sometimes only typing in a street name as their target destination. Google maps or any other maps app will simply pick the center of that street. Many times the street wasn’t so long, so they got us pretty close to where we were going and we simply directed the driver from there. On a couple of occasions the street was longer than average and that meant we could be far enough away from our real destination to require going around a few blocks to get to the right place.

I started thinking about how important it is to have an exact address. While this may seem obvious, I wondered how obvious it is when it comes to setting goals.

Setting broadly defined goals

Sometimes clients tell me, I want to earn more money or I want a promotion or I want to drive more engagement in my organization. When I hear this, it is the equivalent of saying, “driver, take me east of here.”

We know the general direction we are heading but we don’t really know how far to keep driving or where specifically we want to arrive. So I might ask…

  • Define promotion?
  • What role do you want to achieve?
  • What responsibilities do you want?
  • What results do you want to deliver?
  • What offer package do you want?
  • When do you want to start by?

The same goes for the other examples. Define more money? How much more? Define engagement? Define more engagement? What does engagement look like to you?

Without these specific details, at best we can begin driving east. Should someone (i.e. coach, mentor, friend, manager) be kind enough to offer us help, we could only tell them which direction to help us go.

My mission when helping people achieve ultimate clarity is to help them figure out…

  • The direction they want to go.
  • The town where they want to arrive.
  • The street.
  • The building.
  • The floor.
  • The suite or apartment.
  • Maybe even the specific room in the suite they are looking for.

After all, I could sit outside of my doctor’s building and miss my appointment. I could arrive on the wrong floor and not find what I’m looking for. So close, yet so far.

The more clear we can get about what we want, the more easily we can map a path and recruit others to help us.

Rerouting when obstacles appear

When we know where we want to go, we can reroute our path when we encounter traffic. Not even the great Google Maps can predict a broken down car or road closure. These things happen on our way to where we want to go. Since we know where we want to go, we can reroute. We can take a few extra turns, add a little more time to the trip, but ultimately, we make it to our destination. Personally, I’d rather get there late than not at all.

We often talk about mapping out a strategy (i.e. path) for getting to a goal. This is what is meant by that. But you can’t map a path without knowing where you are and where, specifically, you want to go.

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