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Setting Inspirational Goals: Why Start with Why?

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When setting business goals, one of the first things you should do is to identify your “why.” Instead of focusing on what you want to achieve, think instead about why you want to achieve it. This shift in your mindset can help you more easily set clear and significant goals that are easy to quantify, understand, and communicate.

To achieve success, you must start with the end in mind. Think about the analogy of driving. Would you take off on a car trip without first entering your destination into your GPS, or at least consulting a map to confirm how to get to your destination? Probably not. There is an even more important question that should also be asked though – why am I going to this destination? This same ideology should apply to your business. By clarifying your “why,” you will have a better idea about where you’re heading.

Types of Goals

 There are two types of goals:

  • “Away-from Goals” – Goals created by dissatisfaction about where you are now – or desperation. 
  • “Towards Goals” – Goals created by a vision of where you want to be – or inspiration.

History shows that “away-from goals” are the main reason why a person does something. However, once initial gains or successes are made, there is likely to be a decrease in motivation or enthusiasm towards the activities required to maintain improvement. This is because the situation has improved, and therefore the goals are not as strong. This leads to entering the comfort zone. When in the comfort zone, no long-term improvements are made. Usually, short-term gains are followed by short-term losses and status quo is maintained, or there is a gradual decline over time.

The only way to get out of (or to avoid entering) the comfort zone is to set clear, significant, and relevant “towards goals.” These may be financial, material, experiential, and/or emotional. Your goals also may be targeted towards improving the lives of others or impacting your community.

Whatever form these goals take, overall, they represent your internal “why.”

So, how well do you understand your “internal” business goal and how well is your business aligned to achieving it?

Once you’re able to confidently communicate your “why,” you will be able to start working on the where, what, how and when questions that will help you achieve business success.


Heather Yakes is an internationally recognized business coach and employee engagement expert ranking in the Top 10 in the U.S. & Top 100 worldwide. Heather is the recipient of the 2016 Business Excellence Awards Coach of the Year, the 2018 ActionMan Award for the Best Client Impact, and the 2018 Franchisee of the Year Award. She has 20+ years of experience working with Fortune 500 Companies and Big 4 Consulting.