The "Dream House" Goals Model for Success (Part 2): from the ground up | by Karen Lukanovich

Happy Coach Holding Key to Client's Dream Goals Part 2

In Part 1, we looked at the Big Dream—the vision that guides the construction of the Dream House.

Now, let's roll up our sleeves and focus on the skills we need to build it.

Here is an illustration of the Dream House model for reference:

Karen Lukanovich - Dream House Goal-Setting Model Image

IMPORTANT: Visualize the journey, not the destination

You may have heard that a key to achieving goals is to visualize success. But that's not quite true. What actually helps is visualizing the process of getting to your goal.

Neuroscience research tells us that visualizing successes or wins can hinder our progress when it is wishful thinking or fantasizing. But when we visualize the various steps to take in the process, we reduce anxiety and facilitate the planning process. This is what propels our progress.

For example, an athlete should focus on visualizing the successful execution of their race plan, not standing on the podium.

Building for success: Process Goals = SMART Goals

Let's begin at the ground level of our Dream House with the Process Goals.

Our Process Goals are the short-term tasks we take action on. In this system, Process Goals are created using the SMART goal model:

  • S - Specific: The more specific the goal, the easier it is to achieve.
  • M - Measurable: Know when you have achieved your goal.
  • A - Adjustable: How will the action plan be adjustable?
  • R - Realistic: Are goals challenging and inspirational?
  • T - Timebound: What are your deadlines, on a timeline?


  • What is one SMART process goal that would support the Big Dream you identified in Part 1?

Break down goals into manageable pieces

Breaking down our goals into smaller chunks or tasks helps with motivation.

Successful completion of a task, no matter how small, will fuel your motivation and reduce overwhelm. So make your tasks small enough to win at!

If it will take you more than one week to achieve your goal, break it into intermediate steps so that you feel you are in control and are making progress.
Lou Lukanovich (Canadian kayak sprinter, 3x Olympian, Order of Canada)

Create a positive progress loop

When we make progress through meaningful work towards our goals we get into a progress loop—where progress and a positive inner work life fuel each other into an upward spiral.

This is referred to as the "Progress Principle". It doesn't just include significant progress—small progress can lead to big wins too!


  • How might you break down your SMART process goal into smaller steps or tasks?

State goals clearly, in positive terms

Whatever we put our attention on grows. That means we want our goals to be stated in the positive.

We also want clarity around why we want to achieve a goal, large or small.


Ask yourself:

  • What are all the benefits of achieving the goal (internal/external)?
  • What is the big benefit?
  • What other areas will benefit from achieving this goal?
  • What are the rewards for accomplishing the goal?
  • What is the opportunity cost of not achieving the goal?

The answers to these questions help move you into the positive actions needed to complete tasks that, once completed successfully, will fuel your motivation to continue on to the next task.

Define your measures of success

Next, how will you know if you have achieved your process goals? We must create measures for our goals, be aware of what resources are needed as well as what might get in the way.

You must also set goal 'levels' for success: minimum, target and extraordinary goal levels.

To choose your goal levels consider that goals can be measured on time, quantity and quality.

Goals should be realistic, but achievable with effort. If no or low effort is required, your goal is not inspirational or engaging enough.
Lou Lukanovich (Canadian kayak sprinter, 3x Olympian, Order of Canada)

As leaders, we must test our assumptions and be open to (and seek) input.

Any goal-setting process must include our best understanding of the effort required, challenges and obstacles to success. So make a list, being honest and realistic.

This also helps to avoid setting dysfunctional goals, which lead to procrastination, additional stress and anxiety for ourselves and those we lead.


Ask yourself:

  • What are the minimum, target and extraordinary measures of success in meeting your goal/s?
  • What effort and resources will be required (people, things, personal qualities, knowledge, skills, financial support, technology, administrative support)?
  • What are my challenges and obstacles?

Write it down!

Like any blueprint, the path to your goals and Dream House needs to be documented.

No matter how big or small the goal, writing it down and creating a plan of action is crucial to the strength of your intentions and commitment.

In the world of elite sport, this would be a "Yearly Training Plan," which covers the macro down to the micro cycles. It specifies how hours of training and preparation are allocated.

I find one of the most successful ways of transforming my goals into action is simply to write them down. Having your goals regularly visible makes you much more accountable and therefore likely to follow through with the actions you need to achieve them.
Mark Oldershaw (Canadian sprint canoeist, 3x Olympian and bronze medallist)


To create your plan we must establish and commit to timelines and deadlines:

  • What are the tasks with short-term actions that can be completed within 1–2 weeks?
  • What is the first action you will take? Starting when?
  • Set performance milestones and define your measures of success.
  • Be prepared to review, align and tweak the plan on an ongoing basis.

Show up, be ready to learn

A key success factor in achieving our goals is how we "show up" every day. This is a term we use often with our athletes in sport coaching, and it applies well to any goal pursuit.

How we "show up" speaks to our engagement in the process that we have committed to.

As we saw in Part 1 of this article, it really helps to have a learning or growth mindset in any goal-setting process. We may have to learn new things, develop new habits, adapt to change and disruption, and build resilience to the impact of factors beyond our control.

A growth mindset comes with the belief that our talents and abilities can be developed with effort, teaching and persistence, and that we learn from our mistakes.

This mindset also increases engagement and the longevity of our relationships.


Ask yourself:

  • Who do I need to be to make this happen? I will need to be someone who is _____.
  • How will I need to be different?
  • How will I have to look at or do things differently?
  • What should I start doing?
  • What should I stop doing?


Through it all, the most important thing is the journey.

Whatever purpose we set, the journey towards our goals will provide happiness and meaning, more than actually reaching our goals ever can: the thrill of crossing the finish line fades, while the memory of the trip lasts a lifetime.

And neuroscience research supports this, indicating that the journey to mastery is what really matters to us, more than the actual results or achievement of mastery.

For ourselves and our coachees, this is a journey characterized by a growth mindset and curiosity. It involves nurturing confidence and building a positive inner work life that keeps us motivated and engaged.

This enhances our joy in the process, maintains our efforts and commitment to performance over time, and builds the resilience we need to overcome our ongoing challenges as we strive to successfully reach our goals and dreams.

There is no magic to success. Surround yourself with an awesome team that believes in you and the project. Give it everything you've got. In the end it's the journey not the result that matters so make it a good ride!
Sue Holloway (Canadian kayak sprinter, cross-country skier, 4x Olympian, 2x Olympic Medallist, Hall of Famer)

References and Resources

  • The quotes in this article were graciously provided to me by Lou Lukanovich, Mark Oldershaw and Sue Holloway for use in my presentations and articles on goal-setting processes.
  • On the GROW model:  "Coaching for Performance" (2017) 5th edition, Sir John Whitmore
  • On SMART goals:  "There's a S.M.A.R.T way to write management's goals and objectives" (1981) Doran, G. T. Management Review
  • "Nail That Goal" coaching tool, The Coaching Tools Company

Leadership and Opportunity

The Importance of Visualisation

On Mindset and Motivation

On Attention, Habits and Procrastination

The Journey 'v' Destination

I would love to hear what goal-setting model you use in the comments below.

And if you like this article, you may also like:

Karen Lukanovich Headshot

Contributing Author:

Karen Lukanovich, ACC, MBA, Olympian is currently the Head Coach at Cascades Sports Club in Chelsea, QC. (Community sport to world champions in canoe kayak racing). Karen specializes in performance and personal development coaching for athletes and professionals. A former sales executive in STEM, she’s launched successful manufacturing, consulting and coaching businesses. Drawing from her corporate and sport background Karen is passionate about supporting high-achievers to become high performers with confidence and well-being. It's all about the journey! Learn more at and connect with Karen on Linkedin.

Learn more about Karen & see all their articles here >>

Image of Your coach with keys to dream house by kurhan via Shutterstock

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