Show Notes – Ep 015: The Five Phases of Achieving a Goal [Goal Setting Series]
There are five phases that we all go through when working toward achieving a goal. Whether you can persist and move through each of these stages will determine whether or not you’ll successfully reach your goal.
If we want to be successful it’s important that we are aware of what phase we’re in and how to move through it. This helps us continue following through even when we lack motivation and things feel difficult.
So, in today’s episode of the Happy Me Happy Earth podcast I’m talking through each of these phases. I share how to identify what phase you’re in, what to focus on in each phase, and how to move through it.
This is the third episode of my three-part goal-setting series:
- Ep 13: How to Set Goals That You’ll Actually Stick With
- Ep 14: How to Follow Through With Your Goals and Stay Motivated
- Ep 15: The Five Phases of Achieving a Goal (this episode)
Below is a brief outline of the episode. You can listen to the full episode above or wherever you get your podcasts!
The Emotional Cycle of Change
These five phases of achieving a goal are loosely based on Kelly and Conner’s Emotional Cycle of Change which was published in the 1970s. They proposed that whenever we decide to make a change in our life, we all go through five emotional phases:
- Uninformed Optimism
- Informed Pessimism
- Hopeful Realism
- Informed Optimism
I’ve combined the Emotional Cycle of Change, my personal experience, and my experience helping clients to reach their goals to identify the five phases that we all go through. We set goals in order to create lasting change in our lives, so in pursuing them we go through this full Emotional Cycle of Change.
The Five Phases of Achieving a Goal
- Goal setting high (uninformed optimism)
- The dip (informed pessimism)
- The grind (informed pessimism continued)
- It’s working (hopeful realism + informed optimism)
- Success (completion)
Let’s dive into each phase.
Phase 1: The Goal Setting High
How to know you’re in the Goal Setting High:
What to look out for during the Goal Setting High:
Often we completely focus on the outcome that we want to achieve and forget to create the systems and habits that we need to get us there. We incorrectly assume that we’ll stay this motivated forever!
Also, notice if you don’t want to tell others about your goal during this phase. That desire to hide your goal or not fully commit might be a sign of low self-trust.
What to focus on to move through the Goal Setting High:
You’ll probably move through this phase without much effort. Be sure you’ve created a plan to achieve your goal (Ep 14) and that you troubleshoot possible issues or obstacles that might pop up along the way (Ep 13).
Know that this goal-setting high won’t last forever, and that’s okay.
Phase 2: The Dip
How to know you’re in The Dip:
What to look out for during The Dip:
What to focus on to move through The Dip:
Phase 3: The Grind
How to know you’re in The Grind:
This is the hardest part of the journey toward achieving a goal. You’re not really seeing any results yet in spite of all the effort you’ve put in. And you may be debating whether or not to quit, and feeling shame and guilt because of that desire to quit. All motivation is gone and you regret setting this goal in the first place. Life wasn’t so bad before, was it?
Most people don’t make it through this phase.
What to look out for in The Grind:
What to focus on to move through The Grind:
Remember that even if you don’t work towards your goal for a day or a week you can resume your journey with the next decision. You don’t need to scrap everything and start all over again or wait until Monday (or next year) to get back on track.
It’s very important that you approach this phase with self-compassion. It’s okay that things are hard and you’re feeling unmotivated. Remember why this goal is important to you and practice patience. Give yourself the time you need to succeed. Also, double down on your self-identity work and practice process praise to help yourself stay in the growth mindset.
Lastly, know that things will get better soon!
Phase 4: It’s Working!
How to know you’re in Phase 4:
What to look out for in Phase 4:
What to focus on to move through Phase 4:
Phase 5: Success!
How to know you’ve achieved a goal:
What to look out for once you’ve achieved a goal:
As I mentioned before, it might be tempting to minimize your achievement if you’re not comfortable experiencing success.
Be sure to keep an eye out for upper-limit problems. This concept, put forth by Gay Hendricks in his book The Big Leap, points out our limited tolerance for feeling good. Basically, we have a tendency to subconsciously or consciously sabotage ourselves when things are going well because we find success uncomfortable.
What to focus on once you’ve succeeded:
By taking time to reflect with either a weekly or quarterly review we can take note of our achievements. Lastly, set aside regular time to acknowledge your wins and celebrate yourself. By doing this you can build your tolerance for success.
Whatever stage you’re in on your journey toward achieving a goal, I hope that this podcast episode was helpful for you! By bringing some awareness to these phases you’ll be able to move through them, persist, and achieve your goals.
Come back and listen to this episode whenever you’re feeling unmotivated and need to refocus and recommit to your goal!
Download the FREE Self-care for Changemakers guide to learn how to be an agent of change without sacrificing your health!
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