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Finding your way with your ‘going to’ criteria

Frustrated with your current work or home situation? Struggling to find a job that makes you feel rewarded and happy? Health goals failing? Dissatisfied and always looking for that next big thing?

Let’s play with this.

Which of these sounds more attractive to you:

  1. ‘I’m going on holiday! I can’t wait to get out of here (e.g. home or job) for a while.’
  2. ‘I’m going on holiday! I’m heading to Italy and can’t wait to see the art, eat the gelato and experience the people, sights and smells.’
A wide view of part of the Portofino coast, with a few colour buildings set into a cliff on the left. The water is very blue. There are half a dozen or so boats. There are blue mountains on the horizon.
Portofino, Italy, by Anders Jildén on Unsplash

What about these:

  1. I’ve quit my job! I can’t wait to leave that place and my boss behind.
  2. I’ve quit my job! I’ve accepted a new role with a like-minded organisation with an inspiring boss and wonderful colleagues.

The first options are examples of an ‘away from’ motivation. You just need to get out here. The second is a ‘going to’ motivation – what you want to go to.

For most people, the ‘going to’ motivation is stronger than ‘away from’.

  • Away from: You want to get away from it as soon as you can and it’s usually something you see as bad.
  • Going to: You can picture what it is and it’s usually something you see as good.

‘Away from’ won’t provide direction

I sometimes use the ‘going to/away from motivation’ framework in coaching sessions.

My own coach introduced me to it many years ago. I don’t remember what issue we tackled, I just remember the feeling of flicking the switch to ‘going to’ – dreaming big for the future.

When do I know when it’s the right time to prompt the ‘going to/away from motivation’ framework with a coaching client?

Sometimes I see a lack of clarity about next steps, or sense a lack of motivation, or hear indecision. It might be that they know their values, yet haven’t linked the values to ‘what’s next’. Or boundaries aren’t set as they’re not sure what they’ll do with the extra space. Another hint is when negative words are used to describe what they want.

And it doesn’t apply to just individual coaching clients. Teams, organisations or boards can all slip into ‘away from’ thinking rather than the more proactive – and more effective – ‘going to’ approach.

How Tracey’s found her ‘going to’ criteria

Tracey (not her real name) is in a role that’s not working for her. Her manager is stand-offish. The team is competitive rather than collaborative. The industry isn’t one that lights her fire.

So, she’s on the lookout for a new role.

It’s a strong job market, so she’s happily inundated with offers. So much sothat she’s finding it hard to choose. With her ‘away from’ hat on, everything looks good.

So, in our sessions we’ve been working on her ‘going to’ criteria:

  • Strong purpose to the role and organisation
  • Strong impact of the role, being able to make change
  • Involves change or transformation, not ‘business as usual’ (BAU)
  • People-centric
  • Good leadership

Once she was clear on her criteria, the sifting for the right role became easier. The role with a gambling organisation slipped to the side – not enough purpose. The role with a great organisation – and a not-so-great leader – also moved off her list.Likewise, the role with the great organisation and great people leader was also crossed off her list – as it was a BAU rather than a transformation role.

Her next interview is with an organisation for a role that ticks all the go-to boxes. It’s something that she’s keen to ‘move to’. Yet, her clear criteria means that in her chat with the CEO prior to accepting the offer, she’ll talk to them about how to leverage the work for even greater impact.

What’s your ‘going to’ criteria?

I’m curious… did any of this prompt you to re-think and understand your motivations the last time you chose to book that holiday, randomly applied for a new role or left a job?

Or, do you already have your own ‘going to’ criteria?

I’d love to hear about it and any next-steps you plan to take.

Ideas to Action

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