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How to Create Goals that Have Structural Tension

Posted In Goals // 0
structural tension

If you’ve found this blog post, I’m guessing you’ve possibly read an article I’ve written about the importance of having goals that have structural tension.

I wrote about it in this post on what you need to focus on to achieve your goals.  If you haven’t read about why structural tension is critical for your goals, it’s worth a read.

Just quickly recapping… If you want to achieve your goals, they need to have structural tension.

In this post, I share with you how to create goals to make sure they do…

Let’s kick into it…

How to Create Goals that have Structural Tension

Step 1.  Know What Truly Matters to You

To achieve a goal, it has to matter to you. If it doesn’t really matter, you won’t do it.

The process of creating goals with structural tension begins with making sure your goal is centred around your true values and aspirations.

When our goals are motivated by our own true values and aspirations, structural tension is easy to create.

Even though it might sound obvious, I have to say, a lot of people aren’t creating according to their true values and aspirations. They are trying to create goals that are built around concepts or ideals they hold.

That’s where things can go seriously south for them.

If you try to create goals that are based on a concept or ideal, however, you are likely to find structural tension impossible to build.

Some common concepts and ideals:

  • “I want to be the best version of myself”
  • “I want to fulfil my purpose”
  • “I want to be successful.”
  • “I want to become enlightened”
  • “I want to be respected.”
  • “I want to be famous.”
  • “I want to achieve my potential”
  • “I want to be discovered”
  • “I want to be important.”
  • “I am too [something] and not enough [something]. When I achieve…. it’ll mean I’ll have made it.”

Step 2.  Make Sure Your Goal is about your Goal 

Double-check yourself that your goal isn’t about, or doesn’t require:

  • becoming an ideal self/some way you think you should be  (e.g., ‘successful’, ‘beautiful’, ‘happy’, ‘inspiring’, etc) You can still become all of those things, but if they are the driver for your goals, you’re highly likely to struggle in some way with that pursuit.  Your life will be much more full of joy and sustained motivation if your motivation is the love of your goals for their own sake itself (and let go of your identity crisis).
  • becoming some way your parents think you should be 
  • creating what others value but when you observe your own behaviour, you see that you actually don’t want value it
  • receiving praise, thanks or the approval, envy or adoration of others – or of yourself.
  • solving a problem with your life
  • getting other people to do things you want them to do (e.g., “become a bestselling author”)
  • getting other people to be ways you want them to be (e.g., “having my kids achieve their potential”)

If you are doing any of these things, your goal isn’t about your goal.  If you want to create goals with structural tension, you need to find out what you really care about.   Pop me an email and let’s see if we can get to the bottom of what you care about.

 If you are clear that your goal is about your goal and not about the above issues, move on to step 3.

Step 3.  Create a Structural Tension Chart

I learned this powerful method from my mentors Robert and Rosalind Fritz.

Creating a Structural Tension Chart will help you to do a few things that you’ll need to achieve your goal.

It will help you to identify the actions you are going to do to achieve your goal, and create a plan to work from that you can edit and check off actions as you.

But the way it differs from a standard goal plan or project plan is that it not only identifies your vision, but also works from where you are in your current reality.

That way, you create goals that have structural tension which will help you to not only get started, but sustain the clarity and effort required to get you to your goal.

I wrote a post on How to create a Structural Tension Chart. You can read it here.

Step 4: Work through your Structural Tension Chart

Now that your goal has structural tension, and you have a plan, work through the actions on your chart. Yay!

Step 5:  Learn + make any necessary adjustments along the way

As we work on our goals, there are almost always things that will learn – and need to change.

Maybe you’ll get new information that something that needs to change. Maybe you learn something that adds new actions or removes the need for certain actions you thought you needed. Or maybe what you learn changes the strategy or approach you take completely.

As we create, it’s important that we are willing to learn, and ‘roll with the punches’ and adjust our plans as needed.

You may even find that your end game changes as you move towards it. You may discover it wasn’t as important to you as you thought and you might abandon it completely. Or what you want changes as you go.

You can’t know how it will change till you’re working towards it. You have to discover it as you go.

Step 6: If you want to get to your goal quickly, focus on building momentum

The faster you work through the actions on your structural tension chart, the faster your vision can materialise.

If you don’t have an end-date in mind, it’s okay to take your time and go slower.  You may have some goals you’ll want to achieve in a certain time frame and some might be open-ended.

Deadlines can help you to build structural tension, but they are not critical.

It is important however to be aware that the slower you go, the less momentum you’ll accumulate.

Momentum is a powerful force that, if you allow allow it to build will support the accomplishment of your vision.

The reason many visions fail to materialise is that the person with the vision went so slowly, the structural tension never built. And like the flicker flame of a match that never got given the paper and the kindling and the wood, the fire went out.

Step 7: Completion

At some point, by working with the structural tension you’ve built, and completing what needs to be completed, with a little of the right luck on your side, you will have brought your vision to completion.

Remember that no vision you create is guaranteed to be successful.

For all of the motivational memes in the world, shit also happens that we can’t predict. Some results are not achievable, or not achievable for us – for reasons we may not ever understand.

But by building and using structural tension, we give ourselves the best possible shot.

Step 8: Living with Your Creation

There is a final stage to creating our goals that most never talk about.

It’s living with what we’ve created.

Whether it’s an artwork we’ve created, a business we dreamed of, or a marriage we’ve engaged in, sometimes we love what we’ve created. Other times, we discover we don’t actually like it as much as we thought we would. Or at all.

It can be disappointing to discover that something we worked so hard on didn’t fulfil us the way we thought it would. Or should.

But we can only discover this after creation. And from it, we learn. We learn what’s important to us, we learn what we like and what we no longer care for. And this newfound knowledge, it informs future creations.

And a creative life, is a wonderful life.

I hope you enjoy the process of building, as much as you enjoy the buildings themselves.

What to Do if You’re Struggling to Create Structural Tension

If you try out these steps and you still find yourself struggling, it’s possible you are operating from one of these four behaviours – and if so, you may need help shifting those.  Please get in touch with me and let me know what’s happening for you. We’ll see if we can work it out together.

Do you have a goal you’ve been struggling with? Did you learn something from this post that will help you?

If so, I’d love to hear about it! Feel free to send me an email, or pop a comment in the comments below.

Want to go in the draw to WIN a FREE coaching session? Subscribe to my blog to go in the monthly draw.

I’d love to see you rock your goals!

On Instagram? You can find me here. 

Big love to you + your success!

P.S. For more posts on how to create what matters to you, direct to your inbox, feel free to enter your deets below.

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