There's a very good likelihood you're already familiar with the Five Ws; they're the five questions we ask in order to gather basic information and problem solve: Who? What? Where? When? Why? As a coach, I also find them to be fantastic ways to highlight goals with clients, and illuminate different perspectives in goal-setting. I want to share some of these insights with you, so let's dive right in!
Well, for starters, you. You are the one who defines the goals you want to set, and the level of success you strive towards. But 'who?' doesn't only mean yourself. Ask yourself who you can bring onto your side to enhance your success, and keep you driven towards your goals. Do you have a great support system--one built with the kind of accountability you need? Who is in that group? Can you make use of others' talents and contributions--resources at your disposal--in order to succeed? Are they colleagues, mentors, coaches, and leaders? Look to yourself and those around you to create a network of 'who' to confidently build towards success.
One of the first steps in goal-setting involves 'what': what do you want to achieve? This may not always be easy for you to think of, though. You may not have concrete, specific plans or ideas about what goals you want to set. Perhaps, you've got something more intangible in mind (ex. I want to be happy). Specificity is crucial in having strong, attainable goals, but that doesn't mean you've got to be specific right off the bat. In taking a step back and asking yourself, "What do I want?", you start to focus your mind down your desired path. Even if you begin with a general direction, you can narrow the specificity by asking yourself what steps you need to take to bring about that goal. The actions become more specific--almost mini-goals unto themselves--and your previous, seemingly direction-less state becomes more structured and specific.
The 'where?' question is, perhaps, a bit more difficult to piece together at first blush. Certainly you need to put yourself in the position--physically or metaphorically--to succeed. There could also be areas of lack, uncertainty, and limitation in your life which require additional work to discover where those areas are, and what (combo deal!) you need to do, embrace, or let go of in order to best set yourself up to succeed. Where you choose to place your focus is key, because what you focus on, you create more of in your life.
Time-sensitive goals, along with specificity, make for exceedingly powerful objectives. There's a reason goal-setting frameworks incorporate both of these elements--hello, SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable/Accountable, Realistic, Time-sensitive) goals! Setting time frames for your goals is not meant to place undue pressure and stress upon you; rather, it's used to reinforce action, immediacy, and accountability. It's incredibly easy to procrastinate, especially when no time frame exists for taking action. Introducing a time element to your goals spurs you to action right away--ensuring that you build momentum--and continue that forward movement until you are successful.
In my mind, one of the most important questions we can ask. We grow up asking it (sometimes to the lament of our parents and those around us), and continue to do so throughout our lives. You and I have explored the concept of 'why' many times together, and the power behind a strong 'why' is clearly evident. When setting and attaining goals, you're going to be met with adversity. A strong 'why' reminds you of the intention and purpose you had when setting the goal in the first place, and gives you strength and resilience if you begin to question the path ahead. If there's three words that have more impact on successfully reaching your goals, I'm open to hearing them. In the meantime: Know. Your. Why.
While not a 'W', the question of 'how?' often gets lumped in as a bit of a tag-along; even so, it's an incredibly valid and crucial question to answer. Even after you've gone through the Five Ws and have more clarity around the goals you want to achieve, how to do so can create a phenomenal amount of frustration. There are any number of tools and methods to employ to figure out how to complete something, but I'm going to be incredibly biased and let you in on what I consider the best solution: work with a coach. Coaches live in the realm of 'how'; we don't give you the answer--rather, our skills and abilities allow us to assist and guide you in discovering the answers for yourself. If you're ready to set and achieve goals in your life, and have uncertainty around how you're going to do so, I highly recommend seeking the assistance of a coach.