Goal Setting With Less Frustration

Chris Matthisenby Chris Matthisen

You have probably heard of setting SMART1 goals, WIG2 goals, HARD3 goals and many other kinds of goal setting acronyms that encourage us in the best ways to accomplish an objective. No matter what acronym you use many of us find that the journey in achieving our goals creates a lot of frustration and stress. I want to share with you a simple truth in goal setting that has liberated many people from the negative emotional baggage that tends to accompany our goals. Let me start out by saying that this is neither a method to follow nor a plan to fulfill. This paper deals more with how we conceptualize our goals.

A and B Goals

“A” Goals
Goals can be broken down into two basic parts, “A” Goals and “B” Goals. “A” goals require no one else in order to accomplish them. For example, I want to set a goal where I will commit to read one book a week for the next year. This is an “A” goal because it requires only me, myself, and I to accomplish it.

“B” Goals
“B” goals are just as important as “A” goals but they require the assistance of another person to accomplish them. We can call these goals “DESIRES” to distinguish them from “A” or Real Goals. For example: at work, I may set a goal for achieving a 10% increase in sales over this next year. This is a “B” goal because it depends on the cooperation of other people (i.e. those whom I sell to).

FRUSTRATION
When people attempt to accomplish “B” goal desires with “A” goal expectations, they get frustrated(Figure 1). We will also tend to mistreat others with some form of emotional discipline (anger, criticism, put downs etc.). What happens here is that we are trying to manipulate others to get on board with our agenda. It won’t always work the way we anticipate.

Accomplishing “B” Goals
The way to deal effectively with “B” goals is to break them down into their lowest common denominators that will allow you to influence or accomplish “A” goals. For example; if you set a “B” goal to increase sales by 10% you will need to set an “A” goal that says something like: I will call 10 people a week regarding this product/service, or I will set up a system that will help track my contacts and prospects. Both “A” goals will influence your “B” goal.

If we focus on accomplishing the things we can control (“A” goals) we will experience less stress and frustration in our world. Everyone is working their own agendas and it takes more than a commanding, charismatic person to influence them off their agendas and onto goals that are mutually beneficial for all – be it at work or home. A proper understanding of “A” and “B” goals will allow everyone to live at peace. Whatever important “B” goals that are left undone by the end of the day – entrust them to God

“Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.” Proverbs 16:3
“May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans!” Psalm 20:4

Interested in continuing the conversation about this or other discipleship issues?
Contact Chris – chrisfm@rogers.com


1SMART definitions are attributed to Peter Drucker’s management by objectives. The first known use of the term occurs in the November 1981 issue of Management Review by George T. Doran
2WIG goals discussion can be found in the book “The 4 Disciplines of Execution” by, Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling. Copyright ©2012 by FranklinCovey Co. Free Press, Neyw York, New York.
3HARD goals are explained in Hundred Percenters; challenging your employees to give it their all and they’ll give you even more 2nd ed. by: Mark Murphy. Copyright ©2014, McGraw Hill Education Toronto, Canada. Hard Goals : The Secret to Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by: Mark Murphy, McGraw-Hill, Copyright ©2010, Toronto, Canada.