What Direction Are You Driving?



Last week I found myself at a very interesting networking event.  One person opened the conversation by asking, "so, what's driving you?"

What is driving me?

It connects to the concept that I need to know where I am driving before I get on the road.  Given that the season of New Year's resolutions has just passed, there have been a lot of conversations around mission, goals, intentions, directions and the desire to find more successful strategies for change.

How many have had beautiful intentions on January 1st, came up with a solid list of goals, only to find that now, 21 days later, no new habits have been established and that the list of goals has gone into the bottom drawer?

Goals are often too big and intimidating and without a sound strategic plan for achieving that goal, not much gets started and even less gets completed.  In short, many goals come with the built-in disappointment of not reaching them.

Working with my clients, goal setting used to be the beginning of the coaching relationship.  Now, we start by clarifying our direction. What is the difference?

Effective Goals:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Resonant
  • Thrilling (that's "SMART" in coaching terms)
  • heavy
  • inflexible
  • limited


  • more general
  • unmeasured
  • attainable
  • resonant
  • thrilling
  • lighter
  • open to change
  • open to possibilities

To be clear, direction and goals work together. For some of the more left-brained people, goals may be perfect and all they need.  But for the more right-brained peeps amongst us, we need the freedom and openness of direction to accomplish anything satisfying.  For a writer, the goal to write a novel by the end of the year may inspire nothing but solid writer's block.  But the direction to write 5 days a week may likely produce a volume of work well surpassing the original idea of a novel.

We still need goals, and they work extremely well as milestones on our map of direction. And that direction may change and then, so will our goals. But for many of us, that small reframe will make us able to breathe more easily and get a whole lot more done in a way that's exciting and inspiring.

So the next time someone asks me "what's driving you," I'll have the long answer for them because I'll be inspired by my direction instead of stumped by my goals.