How to set and communicate goals that motivate?

Imagine, or simply recall, a moment of standing in front of your team and announcing the goals for the coming year, period or project. Just a millisecond after revealing them, the faces in the audience echo reactions that range from A to Z. Some smiles transmitting feeling of relief, some raised eyebrows depicting confusion, some frowns reflecting real disappointment…

On your best performance the positive reactions overweigh the negative ones. And if not, you put all your focus on the smiles and cheat your brain into ignoring the not so happy faces. After all, you want to show an example of how motivational these goals are, even if some doubts crawl also inside yourself.

With right tools and techniques you can assure that the goals set and communicated are highly motivational and that the smiles will overweigh other reactions every time. 

How to set and communicate motivational goals?

  • Set a goal that possesses deeper meaning by assuring that it solves a problem or grabs onto an opportunity – meaning is the key ingredient for producing motivation. Without a deeper meaning motivation is hard to come. Goals that are sucked out of excel sheets or pivot tables, have little to no meaning for anyone. Goals become meaningful when they solve a problem or crab onto an opportunity.


  • Communicate the goal through strong storyline – Support the goal with relevant storyline making it easy for people to comprehend and to understand the reasons behind the particular goal. Proper storyline passes information on by following ancient storytelling logic. As such, information is presented in the order of (1) situation, (2) problem or opportunity and (3) solution. The goal is the solution in the storyline. To learn how to build a strong storyline, read more from Mae Leyrer’s book of Mastering Strategic Storylining PS! Storyline is not to be confused with storytelling!


  • Stick to maximum three goals – three is the magic number for our brains. Anything beyond this amount and our brains will have hard time digesting it. As a result, presenting more than three goals, and they will instantly be registered as demotivational. Furthermore, with more than three targets, your audience will start making choices on which ones to focus on and which ones not. As a result, achieving them is a mission impossible from the start. Make sure to set maximum three goals for one project, one team, one person!

To set motivational goals ask yourself / your team these questions when setting them:


  • Which problems are the most critical ones to be solved this year / with this project? Shortlist maximum three!


  • Which opportunities exist in the light of the coming year / this project? Shortlist maximum three! 


  • Which three problems and opportunities are most crucial ones to focus on? After this question you will end up with total of three goal areas, some of which may focus on problems, some of which on opportunities. 


  • Which measurable indicator(s) help to measure that the problem is resolved / opportunity grabbed? No more than three measures for one problem / one opportunity (repeat the question for each problem and each opportunity)


  • If we have reached this indicator, what will have changed for the better for us, for our company, for our customers, … ? Make strong association with this success feeling, imagination, sound (repeat the question for each problem / opportunity)

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