What I’m about to say may be hard for some of you to swallow, at first.  Whether you think you have goals or not, we’re all working towards the fulfillment of goals.  There are two kinds of goals, expressed goals and hidden goals.  Expressed goals are those goals you actively set for yourself.  Hidden goals are goals you might not even be consciously aware of, but they are there and they are directing your behavior.

Let’s talk some more about hidden goals, because this idea may be new to you.  People often tell me that they don’t know what their hidden goals are.  And that’s fair enough.  By definition, they are hidden, and they can be hard to locate in ourselves.

Hidden goals leave behind a trail of results.  So, pick an area of your life and look at the results you’ve gotten.  Then think about what behaviors have gotten you where you are now.  What do these results and behaviors indicate is important to you?  Your hidden goals will begin to reveal themselves.

Let’s look at an example of someone who wants to lose weight.  Let’s say they even have the expressed goal of losing weight, but their weight is not going down.  That is the result they are getting, no change in their weight.  Now they would look at the behaviors that have led to these results.  They are not exercising on a regular basis and they’ve made only a few small changes to their diet.  So, a hidden goal would be that they don’t want to change their lifestyle.

Now we can see that their expressed goal of losing weight is in conflict with their hidden goal of not having to change their lifestyle.  Here’s the problem, when a hidden goal is in conflict with an expressed goal, guess which one wins.  That’s right, the hidden goal, with all the resources of your unconscious mind and years of habit building, will trump your expressed goal.

So, get started today finding those hidden goals that are holding you back.  Take a look at an area of your life, figure out the results you’ve been getting and identify the contributing behaviors.  That’s when those hidden goals will begin to become clear to you.

John Ryan

Host of Key Conversations for Leaders Podcast, Executive Coach, Consultant, and Trainer

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