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Journaling for Creativity.

Are you hitting your goals?

09-12-04a Maga Coaching flyer

You may have already noticed that the picture this week is a little different. It is a partial scan of a flyer I picked up whilst waiting in a lobby of a science building on a research park. The flyer is attempting to promote professional career coaching but it was not the subject matter that riveted my attention and caused me to pull the flyer from the stand. The carefully selected words literally shouted out to my scribbler within.

“Are you hitting your goals?”

Why are these five words so special? It is all to do with the target reader for the phrase and the message it is delivering.

Let’s look at the message, it is actually saying “Consider for a moment, are you failing to achieve your targets? Well I can help you with that.” All that in only five words.

Since the flyer was placed in the lobby of a building full of young, bright, upwardly mobile professionals, it had a very good chance of being read by an ambitious individual, and more importantly, one who had yet again missed his/her targets. Perfect reader identification.

I hasten to add here that I am not picking up on the advertising aspect of these words. True, that is the driving force behind their selection; however, I am more interested in the power of such few words on a carefully selected readership.

Are you hitting your goals?
The ‘Are’ in the five words forms a question, it engages the reader, it requires an answer and if the answer is ‘no’ then the reader has been disturbed out of complacency and possibly an inquisitive action has been initiated. That is, he/she picks up and reads the flyer. If the answer is ‘yes,’ the reader has no requirement for the service and leaves the flyers for those who need them. Clever.

Even the individual words have power.

“Are you hitting your goals?”
‘You’ and ‘your’ here speak directly to the reader, they personalise the message and engage the reader. By the time he/she has finished reading ‘your’, the reader unwittingly accepts ownership of the question. The double whammy supported with alliteration is a hard act to fight.

“Are you hitting your goals?”
Why ‘hitting’? Why not ‘meeting’, ‘achieving’, ‘attaining’, ‘realizing’, ‘accomplishing’, ‘reaching’ or ‘completing’? Because it carries the greatest sense of dynamic action, it is positive, aggressive and forceful. It is exactly the type of action and activity an alpha achiever would wish to do. That particular target reader doesn’t want to simply meet his/her goals, he/she will want to thrash, beat, hammer, trounce or slaughter any opposition into submission. Perfect reader language alignment.

“Are you hitting your goals?”
The final word is more than simply a choice appeasing and attracting the sportsman or sportswoman, although I am sure that it is part of its intended function. It is also the strongest word and by placing the strongest word at the end it performs a literary whip-crack with the sentence. ‘Goals’ becomes amplified in the readers mind, and so demands more consideration. Additionally it applies to a wider source of failure than ‘targets’, ‘objectives’ or ‘aims’. These tend to be better specified and easier to achieve or have had some success, where as the life or career goals of people, tend to be woolly and vague, far more chance for these to be unfulfilled and wanting. Is it possible to make one word work harder?

“Are you hitting your goals?”

Five words which under careful inspection, generate enough thoughts to fill a page.


Out in the wide world there are vast numbers of carefully selected powerful word combinations. Many of which will move us to thought or action, some pass us by un-noticed since they are not forged for us. It is our writer’s duty to not allow these words to manipulate us as intended or to slip by un-seen. It is our duty to search them out, to look and learn, to consider their choice and ponder their purpose. From the free lessons available around us, we must take that knowledge and add it to our writing. Not just the selection and crafting of words  but also a knowledge of people (readers) and how they and their world interact with each other.

The lessons are out there and they are free for the taking.

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