Goal Seek: 4 Reasons Why You Should Work Backwards to Better Decision Making


How many times have you seen leaders, peers, and direct reports struggle through decision making or arriving at solutions in a timely fashion? How many times have you seen a select few seem to get to the same solutions quicker, and sometimes with better judgement and greater sense of conviction in their choice?

This latter group of people are what I deem to be “goal seekers”. As opposed to starting at the beginning, they start at the end, or their conceptualized result and work backwards. It is a method of thinking that comes more natural to some than others, but it can be taught.

I chose the term “goal seek” to describe this thought process because it is an effective function in the Microsoft Excel data program that allows you to enter your desired value, and the program will make you aware of what it takes to get there. This is commonly used for understanding payment amounts for money down, interest, or installments.

‘Goal Seek’ is somewhat of a forest before the trees method of visualizing a solution before understanding the steps involved. This is effective in freeing oneself from constraints, overthinking possibilities, and losing course to the goal in mind.

Rule #1: Know What You Want and Need
Consult at least one other trusted source to be sure your list of wants and needs are both honest and objective driven. My after taught me from the bible that their is “wisdom in many counselors”. Be sure that your counselors are wise.

Rule #2: No Constraints/Creative Freedom
Depending on your mindset, when we work through most issues we quickly begin to take into account what is and isn’t realistic. This can sometimes be driven by items such as budgets, ability, or even sometimes science. That being the case, when you start with the end in mind, you skip self imposed obstacles and traditional notions. Ask yourself ” what does my result look like if I had full control”; or “In a perfect setting how would this exist?”. Questioning that is positive and forward will help you arrive at your goal without initially compromising possibilities.

Rule #3: Avoid Over Thinking Possibilities. Maximize.
If you are an over thinker, working backwards from the end is crucial in getting out of your own way. The idea that you envision a desired result without ever challenging its merit is a wonderful way of efficiently arriving at decisions. This will maximize the effort you spend on ways of working as opposed to whether it may work at all. This is because it will force you to poke holes in your own ideas. Now all you’re missing is the courage to step out and execute.

Rule #4: Stay on Target
The last important asset to this approach, is that it helps you to avoid losing course to what you are seeking to achieve. While this method is not rabbit hole free, it does limit the number of side doors you duck into that draw you away from your solution. This approach should have you coming out on the right side. You set the destination—stay the course.

The ability to effectively arrive at your desired solutions free of self imposed obstacles will help you to establish a belief in yourself–while unlocking creativity you may have never displayed before. Ideas and solutions that come from constrained free notions lead to the ultimate in progress and satisfaction.

Now practice is in order…


Ex-Stretch Yourself: 3 Exercises to Extend Your Professional Development


For the record–This post is not a “get out of your comfort zone” pep rally of pieced together “you can do it” speeches. This is about recognizing opportunities to express
or stretch (Ex-Stretch) your professional experience. You may want to consider downloading the Labrinth song “Express Yourself”–it holds some responsibility for this insight–plus it will put you in a good mood.

1.Know Thyself

EQ-Emotional Intelligence is key to understanding who you are, what you do and don’t do well and what is missing from your bag. EQ will also help you alleviate certain levels of anxiety that will help you commit more to fight than flight. This is key when your defenses trigger –you can recognize them and move forward to navigate through the dark. Commit to vulnerability.

2.Know Thy Neighbor-Resource
Who do you know that has the experience or skill sets you wish to have? How can they help? If they are not expressive or articulate in helping you understand what you would like–ask them “what motivated that choice?” or “what two things I expect to encounter”.

3. What are You Stretching Towards and What Do You Need to Express?
Ask yourself if what you are pursuing is value adding? Try to envision what you look like afterward, and how the experience will change your current state. Does it help you get to a desired state? Less fear of expression. More confidence in front of others. Making tough decisions on the fly.
Commit to the experience and the vulnerability required. A senior leader at my firm shared the idea of “becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable”.

Exercise this logic with a heavy dose of positivity and a dash of realism to become your best self.