Setting goals with wellbeing in mind: The power of the aviator approach

Setting goals with wellbeing in mind: The power of the aviator approach

Posted: Fri 30th Jun 2023

Goals give you clarity and focus. At least, that's the theory. It's likely that you've created goals in the past that you haven't achieved or you've forgotten about. Or, perhaps working on the goal led you to feeling stressed, exhausted or even burnt out.

If goal setting is so effective in helping us get what we want, how come there's so many instances where it fails to work and isn't kind to our wellbeing?

Two conventional goal-setting approaches

In looking for different ways to set goals, it seems that most methods fall into two extremely different approaches.

1. The avocado approach

So-called because it's about "smashing" your goals. All the advice that talks about setting frighteningly ambitious goals, being laser-focused, pushing hard, being disciplined and never giving up fall into this category. It's all about action.

  • Benefits: If you do stick to this strategy, you're almost guaranteed to reach the goals you set for yourself. You'll have a sense of accomplishment and feel proud of yourself for being someone who can do what they set out to do and overcome any obstacles.

  • Limitations: This approach relies heavily on willpower. If you're more focused on the outcome than on enjoying the journey, you won't be very happy and that means you're more likely to give up.

On the other hand, if you're being hard on yourself, you may get stressed and overworked. If you still can't reach your target, this can lead to more negative emotions.

And, finally, you may be so focused on your desired outcome that you miss out on unexpected opportunities.

2. The radiator approach

The other approach seems to be just the opposite. It focuses on your way of being rather than doing. It's about "radiating" the right energy through setting intentions, repeating affirmations and creating vision boards. It relies on the law of attraction and trust in the universe or another form of higher power to provide what we need.

  • Benefits: It's a very kind and gentle approach. So if something doesn't work out, you don't have to beat yourself up because it wasn't meant to be; you can take the lessons from the experience and move on.

    You're very open and notice opportunities that can help you and experience serendipity.

  • Limitations: Since you aren't fully in control of the result, you also don't know if it'll happen or not. It's more about trying and hoping it'll happen, than making it happen because you're determined.

The new aviator approach

There are business owners who fall in both categories and are happy and successful. Perhaps you can see yourself in one of them and it works for you – if so, great! Keep going. If neither looks appealing, how about an alternative? Let's call it an "aviator" approach as it's in between "avocado" and "radiator".

The aviator approach is about setting goals that are aligned with your bigger purpose and values. You're allowing space for serendipity (those unexpected opportunities), but also having a plan and showing up to do the work.

It's about enjoying the journey, not just the destination, and asking for help when it gets hard. It also lets you change course or quit without feeling guilty, as long as the decision isn't based on fear but looking after yourself.

How to set goals like an aviator

To set an aviator-style goal, first choose a business area to work on. Then spend some time answering the following questions in your notebook (writing is much more effective than just thinking about it):

  • How do you want to feel about this area?

  • What's the specific goal that will create this feeling?

  • Why is this goal important to you?

  • What routines and habits will take you there?

  • What might get in the way and how will you address it?

  • How could you enjoy the journey even more?

  • How could you make a commitment to this goal?

If you give yourself the time to think about these questions, you'll have a goal that you feel emotionally connected with and committed to, which is a great start to achieving it. Enjoy the journey and look after your wellbeing!

Relevant resources

Enterprise Nation has helped thousands of people start and grow their businesses. Led by founder, Emma Jones CBE, Enterprise Nation connects you to the resources and expertise to help you succeed.

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