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Why the “When” of Your Goals Determines Successful Achievement – Sandler Training

Hamish Knox

Sandler Training



Written by Hamish Knox; President of Sandler in Calgary, Canada

Creating accountable, sales focused organizations in Calgary



Language matters when we set our goals because our brain is listening. Using the right language will keep you focused on the path to the mountaintops you established, but that language is scary.

In this case the scary word is “when” as in “I will <fill in goal> by <insert date>.” If you’re familiar with the SMART goals acronym “when” equals the “T” for “time bound.”

Committing to a “when” causes anxiety because, if you don’t hit your goal by your (made up) deadline, you could FAIL and that makes you a failure.

What our clients discover is that even if they don’t hit their exact goal by their deadline they are often much farther up that mountain than if the didn’t commit to a “when.”

Another aspect of “when” as it relates to goal achievement has both a positive and a negative effect on your potential to achieve your goals.

The positive affect happens when you change the “if”s in your goals to “when”s. For example, “if I run the Calgary Stampede marathon next July, I’ll sign up for another marathon” becomes “when I run the Calgary Stampede marathon next July, I’ll sign up for another.” The latter is a commitment and creates forward momentum. The former is a wish that will likely go unfulfilled and be used as a tool to play a game of mental “kick me.” You may not have written down “if,” but it’s there when you’re talking about your goals with your friends.

The negative affect happens when you use “when” as a hurdle to start on the path to achieving your goal or as a result of achievement. In the former case that would sound like “when my kids are older, I’ll exercise” and in the latter case that would sound like “when I increase my take home pay I’ll be happier.”

When you put a hurdle up in front of the path to achieve your goal what you’re actually saying is you don’t believe that goal is important enough to achieve. As, Jeff Goldblum’s character says in Jurassic Park, “life, uh… finds a way.” If you believed that goal was important you would find a way to achieve it.

When you put an emotional outcome on the achievement of a goal you exponentially increase the pressure on yourself because your brain doesn’t understand emotional payoffs. Your brain is wired that we need only three things, food, water and shelter. What will happen is you’ll reach your goal then feel totally empty. This happened to me in my 20s when I realized my dream of working in professional sports. Until I had the “ah-hah” that the mountaintop I had reached was just the base camp of a new climb, I was miserable at home and work.

Winners make choices. If your when scares you it’s probably because you’re on a growth path. Celebrate your successes along the way to your mountaintops and you’ll be continually successful.


Until next time… go achieve your goals.


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An interactive sales workshop designed to produce results, learn effective cold calling techniques, and overcome call reluctance.

Friday October 27, 2017 from 11:30AM-2:30PM

Click to register online or register by phone on 403-457-1507.

Most sales people hate making cold calls for one of two reasons: They don’t have a system, or the system they have doesn’t work. If this sounds like you or your team, this boot camp may be for you.

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Click to register online or call (403) 457-1507 to register by phone.

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