Goal Setting: Answer 5 Essential Questions

22nd December 2016

You know you want next year to be different.

If I had to guess, you’d probably say you want it to be better.

You’re staring at Different and Better, as if they were exotic, distant locales for your next vacation. You know you want to go there. But how?

To know how to get somewhere, you first have to know your starting point.

Reminiscing over this dumpster fire of a year (shout out to you, 2016) may not be the most pleasurable task, but remember: we’re here to grow, and growing pains aren’t just a thing that you gave up past puberty.

Want to make sure this year is your best yet? Begin by answering these five essential questions to begin the goal-setting process.

1. What did I want to do?

Time to pull out your list of resolutions that may or may not have fallen under your bed. What’s on that list?

Maybe you wanted to:

  • learn new arias for your package
  • pay down a credit card
  • finally open your private voice studio
  • start a blog or website
  • take a vacation to Disneyland
  • lose 20 pounds
  • go to NYC for an audition season
  • read 25 books

Knowing what you wanted to do this year leads us to the next question…

2. What did I accomplish? What went well?

Alright, slugger. What did you get done?

Don’t be discouraged if some of those things are partially completed.

Maybe you didn’t lose 20 pounds, but you did stop eating fast food four times a week.
Maybe you didn’t read 25 books, but you did read four.
Maybe you didn’t learn those arias for your audition package, but you made a list of repertoire.

Give yourself a pat on the back for your small victories this year, and then buckle in and take the next step.

3. What didn’t happen?

We just took a look at what we achieved this year. Progress is progress, no matter how small!

But. We didn’t get some things done.

  • Making a list of repertoire is not the same as learning the music on the list.
  • Curating a Pinterest board of content ideas is a great start, but it’s not starting a blog.
  • Ordering the book of Marchesi vocalises on Amazon is awesome, but it’s not practicing them.
  • Thinking about going to NYC for audition season is A+, but it’s not making a plan to make it happen.

You can acknowledge that you made progress and acknowledge you didn’t achieve the desired outcome.

Saying “okay, I didn’t complete X” doesn’t diminish or negate the work you did toward your goal.

It is, however, doing the most important thing of this work: being honest.

Which leads us to..

4. Why didn’t I do the things I wanted?

Usually, at least part of the answer is obvious.

“I didn’t go to Disneyland because I couldn’t afford it.”
“I didn’t read 20 books because I was too busy.”
“I didn’t start my professional website because I’m not good with computers.”
“I didn’t learn new arias for my audition package because I don’t know what I should be singing right now.”

These are all truths.

You probably couldn’t afford that vacation to Disneyland.
You didn’t have enough time to read.
You don’t know how to work WordPress or Squarespace or Wix or Weebly.
You never asked your voice teacher and other members of your team about the appropriateness of the arias you wanted to learn.

Pause the movie, y’all. I can almost hear the self-loathing from here.

Remove the judgment from your observations. Let’s not ascribe any existential meaning to them.

I think sometimes we get so caught up in the “why” of our procrastination that we attempt to undo some massive, abstract concept that isn’t easily remedied.

What I’m trying to say is that for most of us (or at least me, and this is my blog, after all), the reasons “why” we haven’t done something aren’t going to disappear overnight. They may never disappear at all.

We may never be wealthy enough to have the resources to do all the things we want to do.
We may never have enough time to read.
We may never be comfortable asking our teachers for recommendations or help networking.

The good news is that we can circumvent the “why,” even if we can’t get rid of it.

5. Where are you now? What matters today?

We’ve taken a look back at our goals/resolutions. We identified the things that we did achieve, even if we didn’t complete the overarching goal. We observed what we didn’t finish. We asked ourselves why.

“I am so busy I can’t find time to read.”
“I am afraid of asking for help on my aria package.”
“I am a person who doesn’t have the financial resources to treat myself to the things I deserve.”

Now that we know the obstacles that are in front of us, we can start brainstorming ways to circumvent them.

Next up in the series: how one word can make the difference in setting goals. Don’t miss it! Sign up for my e-mail newsletter here: Southern Fried Soprano newsletter.

(This is part of a series on Goal Setting for the New Year. If you missed the first post, learn why I started this series in the first place.)
  • Talya Tate Boerner

    Great post! I’ve never dug into the whys of not accomplishing goals and resolutions.

    • The whys are often the ugly, un-fun part of goal-setting.. especially when we take a look back on the things we didn’t manage to get done. It’s hard work, but I have to lean into it!