Over the last few weeks we have had several folks reach out to ask about their Keystone Goal. Questions have ranged from “What is it?” to “Why is it important?” to “How in the heck do I DO it?” I LOVE that people are asking. It shows that the concept is resonating and that folks are interested in improving their lives. They get that when they have clear, energizing goals, that will help them achieve what they want in business and in life.
In this post, I will attempt to more clearly define the Keystone Goal and where it lies in the big picture of success. Before we go any further, I HIGHLY recommend that anyone who is curious about the concept of a Keystone Goal pick up a copy of Roger Seip’s Train Your Brain For Success book as he pretty much coined the term Keystone Goal and spends a good amount of text defining it. Anything you read in this post comes straight from the book. I’m not trying to get selly-selly by any means, I just want to make sure I give credit where credit is due.
Consider this post a Cliff’s Notes version of his chapter on the Keystone Goal. If Cliff’s notes were novel-length… (get comfy before you read this one).
Let’s start with the obvious question, “What is a Keystone Goal?” Stated simply, this is the one goal that, simply by nature of accomplishing it, will support the rest of your goals getting accomplished as well. The “Keystone” term actually comes from architecture. When building an archway, the keystone is the last piece that goes in and supports loads from multiple angles. Without the keystone, the structure would crumble, but with it, it is virtually indestructible. For those of you looking for a visual, the observatory deck of the St. Louis Arch is the keystone of that structure.
Or perhaps this image helps as well:
Can you see how if this piece wasn’t in place, the rest of the structure wouldn’t work? The same theory applies to your Keystone goal. Without that one accomplishment, the rest of your goals wouldn’t get done. Well, they might get done at an individual level, but if you are reading this post, just knocking out one tiny goal at a time probably isn’t of major interest to you.
The important thing to remember is that the Keystone isn’t a lone-wolf goal. It is one of several goals you should have. It just happens to be the one that ties everything together. It is NOT some flash-in-the-pan want or an afterthought related to something that would be kinda cool to have or do. Like all goals, it should provide focus, direction and a sense of urgency. More on those aspects in Roger’s book.
So let’s talk about why your Keystone Goal is important. First off, if you haven’t connected with your “Why” or if you are unfamiliar with what that means, STOP and watch this video. When it comes to setting goals and operating (read: LIVING) in general, it is MUCH more effective to be coming from a place of Why rather than a place of How or What. This is a topic that has been written on over and over again, but if you don’t have a clear understanding of WHY you are doing something, it really doesn’t matter HOW or WHAT you do. Your Why provides purpose. Once you have that clear, the How and What don’t really matter. If you wanted more than anything to win a bicycle race, would you care if you won by a tire width or 3 bike lengths? Would you care if you won it in a solo sprint or sliding across the line in a fantastic group crash? NO! You won!
The main reason why your keystone goal is important is because when defined and articulated clearly, it serves as the foundation for EVERYTHING you do to move you towards it. Any time you find yourself questioning yourself, you can ask yourself, “Does this support me accomplishing my Keystone Goal?” If the answer is no, it’s a great way to “right the ship” and get yourself moving in the right direction. Your Keystone Goal is the thing that’s going to motivate you to read instead of watch TV or drink a glass of water instead of a Coke.
OK, let’s cut to the chase, How do I establish a Keystone Goal? Again, I’m pulling this straight from Train Your Brain For Success but there are 5 steps to follow in order to best leverage the power of your Keystone Goal:
1. Write down your top 6-7 mid-range goals. A good rule of thumb is to look at what you want/need to accomplish in the next 90 days. Anything shorter-term than that may not allow enough “oomph”, and anything longer than that can too easily get overwhelming as it is outside what your brain can realistically visualize.
2. Identify the Keystone. As you are looking at the goals you wrote down, there should be one of them that kind of trumps the rest. Your Keystone is that goal. It’s the one that, by focusing intensely on its accomplishment, you support the majority of your other goals. In some instances, the Keystone Goal will create the others as a byproduct. In other cases, your Keystone Goal will require the accomplishment of other goals as a stepping stone to its accomplishment.* Take a look at your list and find where that is true in one of your goals. For me, it is tied to a sales number. Reason being, in order to hit that sales number, I have to accomplish a bunch of stepping stone goals along the way (like # of new coaching clients, # of booked speeches and income needs).
* I pretty much copied this verbatim from the book.
3. Solidify your WHY. We already discussed this above, but get hyper-clear on why accomplishing this one particular goal is important to you. How will you feel when you do it? How will pursuing it make you better? What else will I be able to be/do/have once I accomplish this? Your Keystone Goal will provide incredibly clear answers to these types of questions.
4. Make it Visual. You’ve figured out what your Keystone goal is. GREAT! Find a visual representation of it and put that somewhere you can see it ALL THE TIME. Print off your sales number in big numbers, write it on your bathroom mirror, on the bottom of the inside of your windshield; anywhere you KNOW you will see it several times a day. This forces you to think about your Keystone Goal and helps you visualize your life once you accomplish it. If your Keystone is a new house, print off the MLS and put it on the fridge. Some folks call this dream boarding. Pinterest can be a huge help on this. If you need help on using that site, call my wife. She’s an expert (and yes, I’m talking about in the 10,000 hours of experience sense).
5. Create a supporting ritual. This is as simple as letting the first words out of your mouth be your Keystone Goal or as complex as 2 hours of affirmations and Power Half Hour exercises. Get yourself doing SOMETHING that is a habit of excellence. It should definitely be something that keeps you motivated about accomplishing your Keystone Goal.
1-3 above are more how to do it, 4 and 5 are more what to do with it. If you focus on those 5 steps, you should get yourself moving in the right direction VERY quickly. And remember, your Keystone should be temporary. What I mean is that once you get good at setting goals and accomplishing them, you’re going to need a better goal to go after.
I trust this has been helpful. I welcome any comments or questions, I’ll be mindful to answer them ASAP.
BTW, here’s the Visualization for my Keystone. Enjoy!