Now is the time of year when we are all looking ahead with hopeful and determined eyes. “This is going to be my year. This is the year that I become my best self.”
We get to be a little selfish and ask ourselves, “What do I want?”
You might be looking at articles on how to set effective goals. These articles are likely telling you the same thing: Make the goal actionable and achievable. Give yourself a deadline. Reverse engineer the steps it will take to get there.
That's solid advice. However, in the hundreds of articles I’ve seen fly by my screen on this topic, none of them mention a vital element to your goal-creation process.
You’ll read a lot about the when and how of setting your goals. But don’t forget the who.
Arguably, very few goals are accomplished by you and you alone. No person is an island, as the saying goes.
On your journey to success, there are four different types of people you will need. These people are the ones who will aid you in your endeavors. But if you don’t know to look for them, they might just pass you by. So, who are the people who can help you with your personal success?
1. The mentor
As Joseph Cambell famously points out with The Hero’s Journey, all great heroes have a mentor. Luke Skywalker had Yoda. The Karate Kid had Mr. Miyagi. Katniss Everdeen had Haymitch Abernathy.
A mentor is someone who has been there, done that and got the T-shirt. He or she is someone you can turn to, ask questions and get advice. If you want to grow your business, align yourself with someone who has succeeded with a similar business model. If you want to lose weight, you could get a personal trainer or you could reach out to a friend who has already succeeded in his or her weight loss journey.
Identify who has already walked the path you're on. Build or strengthen a relationship with them. Your mentors will help you achieve your goals in less time than it would take to figure it all out on your own.
2. The mark
In my coaching and speeches, I refer to “a mark” as a shorthand way of saying “the person you want to influence.” A mark is the person you want to hear “yes” from. Everyone has marks. Your husband could be your mark while you convince him to take a vacation at a ski resort. Your co-worker could be a mark while you motivate them during a project.
Your mark is the one who can say “yes” and make your dreams come true, or they could say “no” and all efforts could feel lost. For your goals, who do you need to hear "yes" from? A big-name client? An investor? Your co-founder?
Get clear about your mark. How can you make your idea most appealing to him or her?
Related: Try This Exercise in Giving to Grow and Strengthen Your Network
3. The sidekick
We all need sidekicks. Batman is better with Robin (or Alfred, depending on how you look at it). Neo needed Trinity. Doctor Who isn’t himself without a companion. (Am I getting too nerdy for you?)
The point is, we all need someone on the sidelines to cheer us on. But if you haven’t identified who will be your supporter for when you hit the bumps in the road, then you won't know who to turn to when they happen. Identify your sidekicks, reach out to them today and give them appreciation now for being and staying in your corner.
Also, don’t forget to consider sidekick groups. Group settings can be just as empowering. If you’re wanting to lose weight, then become a regular in gym class. If you need to clear out some mental baggage, support groups can be a safe haven for exactly that. If you want to express your artistry, sign up for a weekly painting class.
So who will you bring on your team? Who will keep you accountable?
4. The connector
This is, by far, the most overlooked “who” in the goal-setting process.
You have a goal and you know you need to hear a “yes” from a mark, but you give up when you realize you don’t have direct access to that mark. How can you get a “yes” when you can’t even get a “hello”?
It’s not over yet.
If you run into this realization, then your next question is, “Who do I know who is connected to that person?” Our world is flatter than ever. Our marks are often just a LinkedIn connection away. The connector is the person who can introduce you to your mark. He or she makes the connection so you can make magic happen.
Remember the persuasive process -- observe, connect, influence. In this instance, you will go through the process twice -- once for the connector and once more for mark.
As you create your goals, remember to include the people who will help you on your climb up. Goal setting isn’t a one-person show. Success is always achieved in numbers.