Whether you like goal setting or not, you are always setting goals. You may be calling it by another name: objectives, intentions, targets, things you want to experience, items on your to-do list, etc. Basically, any time you are at point A, and you would like to get to point B, you have set a goal. Any time you set out to “accomplish” something, (sign up for a race, learn a new skill, eat dinner, get a PR, start a business, get 8-hours of sleep, go on vacation) you are goal-setting. You might not be engaging in any kind of formal goal-setting process, but you are setting a goal.
And when you set a goal, you are also setting a barometer of success.
Hold that thought.
Now enter: secret goals. (Dun- dun- dun!! Cue dramatic music.)
Stated Goals vs. Secret Goals
Your “stated goal” is the goal that you share with people out loud. It’s the goal you tell your friends, your family, your teammates, and even your coach. Your “secret goal” is the goal you hold close to the vest. It’s the goal you have in the back of your mind, but don’t voice out loud. Your secret goal might be so secret that you haven’t even confessed it to yourself yet. You keep your secret goal hidden inside because if you say it out loud, you breathe life into it. If you say it out loud, what if you can’t do it?
Your first step in dealing with a secret goal is identifying that you have one. It’s totally normal to have a secret goal. Even I have secret goals. It’s not bad to have them, you just need to call it out so you can address it. Sometimes you may not realize you had a secret goal until after the fact. If you accomplished your stated goal, but feel disappointed (or pissed!) at the result, chances are you were harboring a secret goal.
What is your true goal?
After identifying your secret goal, the next step is to be honest with yourself about what your true goal is. When you discover that you have a secret goal, there are only two things you can do: you can accept that your stated goal is what you really want to achieve, or accept that your secret goal is what you really want to achieve.
Remember that thought I asked you to hold onto? When you set a goal, you are also setting a barometer of success. You gauge your success based on whether you feel like you accomplished or failed at meeting your goal. The reason identifying your secret goals is soooooo important, is because your secret goal is the goal you gauge your success by. If you are gauging your feelings of success in relation to a goal that you haven’t really set yourself up to succeed with, it’s a recipe for disaster.
It’s time to choose
Often, your secret goal is what you want to achieve (or feel like you “should” achieve), but it isn’t quite realistic yet. There is a discrepancy between your secret goal and what you are capable of at this point in time. You need to commit to the stated goal and honor it as a true and worthy goal.
Other times, your secret goal IS your true goal, but you are afraid to voice it. You are afraid to put it out there and fail. You are afraid to put it out there and succeed. You aren’t confident in your ability to accomplish it. You’re afraid of being embarrassed or disappointed if you can’t do it.
You have to choose. You have to choose and then commit. Which one is it? There is no right or wrong answer here. It’s moving into the discomfort of either stepping out of your comfort zone or letting go of any thoughts you have of your goal not being good enough. Turn your secret goal into your stated goal, or accept your stated goal is a true and worthy goal. If you continue to gauge your success based on a secret goal and don’t accomplish it, it will negatively impact your confidence even if you accomplished 100% of what was possible for you on that day. Remember that it’s not bad to have a secret goal, you just want to be sure and call it out so you can set yourself up for success.
Mental skills coaching can get the tools and support you need to overcome challenges, build your confidence, and achieve your goals.