High Performance Goals

High Performance Goals: Small steps to achieving big things

You may or may not have taken on the obligatory resolutions at the start of the year. You may or may not be sticking with them. I’ve not specifically given myself a challenge, but I’ve been reading around the subject of high performance and achieving your goals. There’s plenty of advice out there and a lot of it recently has come from the world of sport. I’ve taken away some useful information that I will try to use in my professional and personal life, not just in 2022 but hopefully from here onwards. I’m certainly no expert on this subject, but I’ve repeatedly found similar useful advice that might be a good starting point for anyone wanting to achieve more.


The first thought I’ve gleaned is that we should understand and be aware of why we have set a goal or target, is it for ourselves or to make someone else happy? If it’s the former we are much more likely to both see it through and benefit from the results. There is a lot of pressure put onto us via social media these days to ‘live our best lives’. In reality, few people actually are and besides, how are they analysing this anyway, how is this measured, is it through actual goal achievement? This is all subjective and may have no bearing on your own life or how you wish to live it. A goal could be for your benefit indirectly of course, by primarily benefitting for example your business or family.


The next thought on high performance I’m taking on board is to not concentrate on simple, finite goals too heavily. These goals may vary wildly but I bet most of us have done this at one stage or another. Goals are important, they give us purpose, encourage us to push ourselves and allow us to understand where our limits might be. The issue however lies in achieving the goal, what next? How many people have ever had a goal to lose a certain amount of weight by a certain time, achieved it and then simply put it back on? Running a half marathon doesn’t then guarantee that you’ll run another, or even keep running. Goal achievement can lead to a feeling of dissatisfaction or disappointment, what if you didn’t achieve what you hoped to? Another way to think about specific goal achievement might be as a milestone along the route to a greater goal. An example might be to drive your company towards being as sustainable and low carbon as it can be, rather than focusing upon acquiring a specific rating or accreditation. Life is a marathon not a sprint.


The third thought that I will be trying to keep in mind this year is to focus on the daily, or regular ‘win’ rather than the huge aspiration. I used to paint with oils and I carried out quite a few commissions in my youth. When you paint with oils you tend to progress in a ‘layered’ way in order to work with the medium not against it. You start by ‘grounding’ the canvas with a diluted background colour, then map out the overall layout, build the shadows and dark areas in thinned-down tones and then gradually apply areas of colour from dark to light, building the detail and finishing with undiluted highlights. The finished piece always seemed out of reach at the beginning of the process. Whilst we need the aspiration to drive us forward and set the agenda, this BIG vision can feel daunting and out of reach. Daily or weekly tasks that cumulatively will lead to, or add up to, the aspiration will likely be psychologically much easier to take on board, stick to and see through than simply focussing on the ‘end game’. This approach seems to link directly to the second thought.


My final thought on high performance is to concentrate on my primary goals rather what they might directly do for me. For example, companies such as Apple and Dyson have achieved success by concentrating on great design. The process of concentrating on this as the primary business goal has driven the all-important revenue as a direct biproduct, not the other way around. Other companies might have different mission statements, to provide superior customer care, reach the largest number of customers possible, change the way we think about something or change our habits.


So that’s the loose plan, no grand gestures, just regular and gradual improvement in line with the aspiration, with the odd specific goal and challenge thrown in for good measure.


Some resources where you can find advice about high performance:


The High Performance Podcast, useful, practical advice, interviews and speakers –


Conrad Humphreys, yachtsman, local hero, leadership champion and team builder –

Dale's experience spans a wide range of project sectors, sizes and stages and has particular interests in environmental design and earth-sheltered construction. His favourite projects reuse and breathe new life into under-loved existing buildings.