As entrepreneurs we are driven by our goals. We celebrate when we reach the goal and we feel terrible when we do not. Setting goals have a double-edge to them as they help us focus but they also can serve as a barrier to creativity and flow. Sometimes we set them too low and other times too high and when you miss several goal milestones you may start to doubt if it is really worth the trouble.
I found goal setting frustrating because I would have a vision and then I would get hard on myself if I did not reach my goal. After a few times of setting and not reaching my goals I was afraid to even set them. When I read Daniel H. Pink's book To Sell Is Human, he explained the research behind setting intentions that changed everything for me.
According to Pink, if you put your goal in an "I am" or "I will" statement you are less likely to reach it. The research revealed that if you put your intention in a question format instead, you will be 30 percent more likely to reach the goal. For example, replace "I (My Company) will make $100,000 in revenue this month" with "Will I make $100,000 in revenue this month?"
Why Questioning Works
Questioning the goal seems so illogical as if you do not believe in it, but I realized why it was effective. The goal in statement form creates more pressure to perform. The statement creates an emotional attachment to the result and the goal now feels like a job or work which suppresses creativity.
When stating the intention in a question, the leader's mind remains open and creative. The mind will actually respond with more ideas because we are conditioned to answer when someone asks us a question. This natural built-in mental search engine will respond with creative solutions.
Try this for one minute. Pick a goal and say it to yourself in a statement form. Pause for moment and listen to the thoughts that arise and how your mind and your body reacts. Then, state the goal in a question form and then be silent for a moment to listen to your thoughts and notice the feelings in your body.
Did you notice the difference? If you are like most people, the question form feels more open and hopeful. Your body may feel more tension with the statement and more relaxed with the question.
This really works. At one point we were in a sale slump. I tried using this questioning method of setting intentions, "Will we make $100,000 in revenue this month?" and things started to shift. I felt more creative, had more actionable ideas and received more opportunities. The best part is that going for the goal felt light and fun rather than a chore and self-punishment if I missed it.
Creativity Without Pressure
We do our most creative work when there is less pressure to perform. The question still gives you focus and motivation but without all the anxiety. Non-attachment does not mean you do not care about your goals, but simply that you are not emotionally invested in them. You are still going take action and get a result, the stress and anxiety about the result is always extra and unnecessary.
While setting goals in any form is better than not setting them at all, the question method has made a huge impact on our business and I highly recommend you giving it a try.