Leadership Reframe: Using Goals as Checkpoints

It must be borne in mind that the tragedy of life does not lie in not reaching your goal.  The tragedy of life lies in having no goal to reach.

~ Benjamin E. Mays

Goals are the checkpoints that allow us to choose our direction and reach our destination.

We are quickly flying through the first quarter of this new year. Wow! Can you believe it? The first 90 days of 2012 are just about in the books.  So, how are you doing on your goals for 2012?

You may be wondering why I am bringing up this idea now. After all, isn’t the beginning of the year the traditional time when we set goals and make resolutions?  Here are my reasons.  First, there is plenty of data that demonstrates that the goals and resolutions that we create in January are often not met or even revisited.  I wonder if setting goals is more of a tradition or year end obligation rather than a thoughtful integration of intention and planning.  I am providing another opportunity to be intentional about our goals.

Next, during December and January I am not at my best in terms of energy and focus.  Revisiting goals now affords me more energy and clarity for the task.  Finally, you might find yourself not making progress on your goals.

It’s not too late to adjust course if you’re feeling a bit off track. Acknowledge reality and adjust course before it’s too late. Whether you are thinking about your goals for the first time this year, or already have them in place, I invite you to seize this important opportunity right now.

“What Is Not Started Today Is Never Finished Tomorrow.”

~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Here is a starting place for your goals using the following “checks”. You may find yourself moving around from check to check.  That’s ok. The process doesn’t have to be consistently linear.

Start Here, “Reframe”: Think of Goals as Checkpoints. In this context, I am “re-framing” goals just a little bit.  Instead of using goals as the end point, I am suggesting that we use goals as “checkpoints” that allow you to “check” on progress.  Think of these checkpoints not only as important achievements that must be met, but also as a time to review and refuel.  Checkpoints are like key rest stops on a long road trip. What do you do at a rest stop?- check your time, stretch, refresh, refuel (you, others and your car), get rid of the garbage, adjust course if needed and review the destination and the next check point.

eep you heading in the right direction of your destination.

Use your goals as check points to keep you heading in the direction of your destination, your vision.

Check 1:  What’s the vision? Think about your overall vision for your business, team, career,  a project, idea or your leadership.  I ask leaders to start with the vision first or they can be setting goals that take them off the map, or even use the wrong map for what they are hoping to create.  Not sure what your vision is?  That’s o.k.  Take some time to create it or re-visit it before you go into your goals.  Your vision is not a business plan. Think of it as a future ideal state.  If you work on your goals before your vision, then you run the risk of setting and achieving goals that do not serve you.

Check 2: Break it down: What would success look like at the end of this year, in order for you to know that you are on the path of your vision?  What goals need to be achieved in order to realize my vision for this year?  If your vision is the destination, then goals are the roads, vehicles and checkpoints along the way to get you there. A vision without planned goals and checkpoints is merely a dream.

Check 3: Check the goals. Once you have your goals, ask yourself  these questions: 1. Do these goals align with my vision? 2. If I achieve these goals, will I be heading in the right direction? 3. Will I be closer to realizing my vision? Asking yourself these questions is a way of ensuring that these goals make sense for what you are trying to do.

Without clear goals and a vision, it doesn't matter what road you take or in what direction it's heading.

Check 4: How will you know when you’ve met the goal? It’s not enough to set goals; you must know when you have achieved them.  When I work with leaders I ask them, “If this is your goal, then how would you know if you’ve reached it?  How will you know if things are ‘better’? What are the clues?”  Often we know that we need things to be better, but we have trouble defining specifics.  As the leader, you must define these goals and check points so that you can be clear on the behaviors that contribute to the goals.  Once you have those behaviors, then you can coach and demonstrate those behaviors and then recognize when you and others are reaching the goal.

Check 5: Celebrate! If you took the time and effort to set some meaningful and challenging goals, then there was probably some hard work put in as well as adversity that had to be overcome to achieve them.  Celebrate!  It is important to take time to acknowledge the hard work that has been done by you, your colleagues, team or organization.  Taking time to celebrate is inspiring.  It gives you and others energy that you will need to keep working through the next challenge. It gives you hope and perhaps most of all, it allows people to feel appreciated. Whether it is at work or at home, people want to know that they and their contributions are valued.  Celebration and acknowledgement provide you high impact opportunities to let people know that they are valued.

There is always an opportunity to lead yourself and your team. Start here, right now, with this moment, with this step. What are 3 check points that you’d like to reach for 2012 that will indicate to you, that you’ve had a great year?

I wish you courage and success as you work through your vision and goals.  Thank you for reading.  Please share your thoughts with me and other readers in the comments section below.

Larysa Slobodian, MA

Principal Consultant

L4 Leadership LLC


  1. Lisa March 6, 2012 at 5:27 pm #

    Wow – I never thought to actually “check in” with my goals/vision so early in the year. You are right – there IS still time to get on the correct road (or at least establish some goals to pursue!). I still have time to be successful! Thanks!

  2. Boomer's Buddy March 6, 2012 at 6:32 pm #

    Great article – thank you for writing and sharing! Goals are ways that help us actualize our full potential. Time, energy & focus are the big constraints for all of us – most of us fortunate to have more potential in us that we can fully realize in this short life. Which then leads to being ‘wise’ about the goals to pursue and a live well lived. Not to get too meta – :-) — the most important thing is that the most important thing stays the most important thing.

  3. Larysa Slobodian March 6, 2012 at 6:50 pm #

    Thank you Boomer’s Buddy! We are indeed so full of potential. Wise and intential choices lead to a full life on purpose, (not accident). Great comments!

    Larysa Slobodian
  4. Beth March 7, 2012 at 2:22 am #

    Excellent as always Larysa!

  5. Larysa Slobodian March 7, 2012 at 9:29 am #

    Thank you Beth!!

    Larysa Slobodian
  6. Larysa Slobodian March 9, 2012 at 9:27 am #

    Thank you!

    Larysa Slobodian
  7. Roxolana March 9, 2012 at 11:58 am #

    As always great article!

  8. Larysa Slobodian March 9, 2012 at 12:18 pm #

    Thank you!!!

    Larysa Slobodian
  9. Sabina Nawaz March 11, 2012 at 8:17 am #

    Larysa – great reminder and what a nice twist to add this so early in the year instead of waiting until Nov/Dec. I am struck by using goals as checkpoints. I tend to do that with my clients and myself but hadn’t thought about it more explicitly this way. Thank you.

  10. Larysa Slobodian March 12, 2012 at 9:46 am #

    Thank you Sabina! I like your reference to it still being early in the year. It is early. Today is always earlier than tomorrow. Thanks for reading and your comment.

    Larysa Slobodian
  11. Sarah April 6, 2012 at 11:41 am #

    This is great stuff – thank you I plan to use it with my work in strategic planning too.

  12. Larysa Slobodian April 6, 2012 at 11:43 am #

    Thanks for your comment Sarah. Awesome that you can use this info and good luck in your strategic planning!

    Larysa Slobodian

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