Working out loud to achieve your goals

File_000Being well into 2017, take a minute to ask yourself:
Which goals would you really want to achieve this year?

I recently had the pleasure of a first-hand introduction to Working Out Loud by John Stepper. As a special guest star at a recent J. Boye group meeting hosted by Deutsche Post DHL in Bonn, John took us through his approach as outlined in the book by the same name and made me realise that we need to think differently about achieving our goals.

Goals comes in all shapes and sizes. From small to big, from simple to complex. Most importantly, a goal needs to be something, you really care about, may it be personal or work related. Something that intrinsically motivates you. Have a goal that comes to mind?

The Working Out Loud approach offers the recipe to successfully pursue your goal.

The five elements of Working Out Loud

The book’s subtitle sets the ambition for improving well-being:  

“For a better life and career”

So here is how Working out Loud (WOL) works:

You work on one individual goal that intrinsically motivates you at the time over a guided simple and structured course of 12 weeks.

You are not alone, but work in small groups – or in WOL terms “circles” – of 4-5 people. Every member works on her or his individual goal and supports the other in weekly meetings over the course of 12 weeks.

The aim of it all is to change the underlying assumption of how we relate to each other and the work we do.

WOL’s has five elements, which all aim to guide and help you regain control over your personal and corporate life:

  1. relationships
  2. visible work
  3. generosity
  4. purposeful discovery
  5. growth mindset

Baby steps, new habits and new mindset

Many challenges can’t be solved alone. The starting point for working out loud is to discover and build a network with people related to the goal that may help you.

Networking is central in WOL: Learning from others by making yourself and your goal visible through social media.

File_003However, this is not a one-way street:  Through generosity, the aim is to establish purposeful relationships that matter. Giving gifts by connecting people in a meaningful way makes you a pillar of support. So instead of asking,

“How can I manipulate my network to accomplish what I want?”


“Which person can help me and if the person can help me, how can I I contribute in return?”

Circles are not of permanent nature. They may and will disperse and reform to start a new cycle with new people pursuing the next goal. The overall result, according to John, is confidence. The more circles are completed and the more goals achieved, enables and motivates to achieve any goal desired.  

In summary, through working in the circles and having the five elements in mind, WOL offers a way how to making change permanent. But isn’t there is more to it?

Taking it to the next level

Sustaining new practices and habits is often is the biggest obstacle to implementing lasting change.

Another key learning for me during my trip to Bonn was that sustainable behavioural change is created by breaking down the goal into smaller parts.

John suggests to take one step at a time by working on the goal over the circle’s 12 weeks with feedback and learning to constantly improve.

Here’s one of my favourite analogies in the book that exemplifies this:

“Can’t go for a run four times a week for an hour? Try once a week. Still too much? Go for five minutes. Not working for you? Walk to the treadmill and touch it everyday.”

The philosophy should be “Don’t do too much too soon and too little too late.”

As for most things in life, balance is the key to success – create the incentive and make sure it keeps going.

File_002At the moment, WOL aims to create circles to achieve individual goals. John is working on an adaption of the circle guides, which would be suitable for teams working collectively towards one goal.

Detailed circle guides are freely available on the WOL website.

WOL is similar to the J. Boye network, in that it builds on collective sharing and learning of new insights, and the mechanics are constantly re-worked and improved, so that we can win together. 

Leave a Reply