C-Suite Advisory

An Often Overlooked Goal Strategy: Choose Your Words


You have made goals. Now comes the time to execute those goals. Whether it is a health goal, a relationship goal, a career goal, or some other goal, the process is similar. You have an aspiration. Now you must execute.

Taking a step back, consider what you need to do to achieve those goals.

There is a standard list of project planning steps we all know: set realistic goals, make a plan, build in feedback loops so that even a lofty goal has reinforcing achievements along the way, etc.

These are all critical. It is likely you already do most of these based on experience.

There is another subtle – yet critical – issue you should consider as you pursue your goals: consider your choice of words.

Have you ever noticed how you are describing your goals? Are you using passive words? Why does it matter?

When I coach leaders about their goals, they often speak of what they want to achieve using terms such as wish, would, could, like, if, and maybe.

  • “I would like to increase sales by 25%.”
  • “I wish to become successful in 2018.”

These are not goals. They are expressions of uncertainty.

When spoken or considered, these expressions further reinforce uncertainty.

If you want to achieve your goals, you cannot be in the business of wishing.

If you’re going to be successful, you must speak with conviction. Using action words shows confidence and determination.

Action words like “want,” “will,” and “can” show intentions of taking action.

Think for a moment. What makes you trust and believe in someone you do not know?

Consider successful salespeople. What kinds of words are they using when speaking to you and getting you to buy from them? Are they passive or active words?

People buy from people they know, like, and trust – and people who can who speak confidently about their product.

Consider their mix of topics:

  • How much time are they reinforcing your relationship with them?
  • How much time are they educating you on their services?
  • How much time are they selling you on the advantages their offer provides?

Chances are, they are speaking with confidence in each of these areas.

You may not be in sales. Your goals may be in a completely different area, but the same principle applies.

Stop and consider how your choice of words influences not only other people, but yourself.

Using active words will show others that you are confident and mean business.

Those same word choices are also key to convincing you to make the changes necessary to achieve your goals.

Written by: Heidi Hansen offers a unique program set for improving interpersonal skills tailored for introverts in middle and executive management. She is multi-lingual, with over two decades of corporate training and adult education experience, specializing in developing face-to-face networking and facilitating career growth for business professionals. Living to Lead, founded by Executive Coach, Speaker, and Author, Dave Ferguson, is the flagship brand of an in-demand leadership development company headquartered in the Charlotte, NC area.

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Heidi Hansen
Heidi Hansen is the Living to Lead Communications Coach, Trainer & Speaker. Over the past two decades, Heidi has built a distinguished reputation for empowering individuals to exceed their performance expectations by enhancing their sales, supervisory, and management communication skills.