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Goal Setting Personality Types

We all have different talents, abilities, desires, likes, and dislikes, and all of these things are reflected in our unique goal setting personalities.

Our goal setting personalities influence the way in which we determine and go after what we want, the way in which we handle failure and obstacles, the risks we are willing to take, and the source of our motivation.

This article describes four goal setting personality types (or archetypes) that represent some of these natural tendencies. The four archetypes are: the warrior, the explorer, the diplomat, and the scholar. Each of us has parts of all these archetypes, but one or two tend to dominate more than the others.

Your dominant archetypes dictate your natural goal setting tendencies. Understanding them will help you figure out the best way to go about setting and achieving meaningful goals, and how to avoid the common pitfalls faced by your dominant archetypes.

Goal Setting Archetypes

The Warrior

The warrior archetype is highly focused and driven to achieve. Warriors are result and goal-oriented. They like to take charge and assert themselves whenever they can. Warriors love to tackle challenges head-on and are not afraid to take big risks to get what they want.

Once they lock on a target, warriors pursue it feverishly and persistently until they achieve their goal, even if they have to make sacrifices along the way. Their persistence tends to be inflexible and uncompromising; it can easily turn into stubbornness, and often leads them into trouble if their current strategy is inferior or not working as intended.

Warriors like to do things "their" way and often have trouble asking for help or accepting the input of others. Warriors don't like to fail, they either view it as a challenge that needs to be conquered, or as a personal weakness. When faced with failure, some warriors bounce back quickly, but others can fall into depression and feelings of helplessness.

Warriors like to make progress and feel productive all the time. They don't like to wait, relax, or feel like they are wasting time. They tend to be easily bored with details, and often have little patience for others. Their impatience can sometimes lead to impulsive decisions and reckless risk-taking.

Warriors are natural leaders, but often become autocratic and tend to micromanage others when the pressure is on. They may value results over people, leading to conflict.

Warriors are motivated by challenges, results, and achievement. They go after what they believe will make them successful and happy, in that order, sometimes at the expense of others.

Warriors find success because of their drive, determination, and ambition. They are natural goal-setters that like going after results. Many traditional entrepreneurs and business leaders have dominant warrior archetypes.

Pitfalls of the Warrior

Because warriors are naturally goal-oriented, they can lose sight of the big picture. They may be so focused on achieving their next set of goals, that they forget why they were setting them in the first place. Their focus and inflexibility often causes them to fail to notice or miss valuable opportunities.

Warriors can easily fall into the trap of pursuing the signs of success (money, power, fame, glory) in a way that is not fulfilling to them. They may find themselves completely out of balance, having sacrificed parts of their life to achieve their results. Because warriors tend to value achievement over fulfillment, they often focus so much on the destination that they fail to enjoy the journey.

Warriors don't like to dwell in the details, and their plans are often cursory and sketchy. They can be impulsive and become surprised by "unexpected" problems. Sometimes they are too confident for their own good, leading to lack of adequate planning and preparation. They tend to focus on the short-term and may not realize the long-term consequences of their actions.

The Explorer

The explorer archetype likes to explore a wide range of interests and passions, taking many detours along the way. Instead of locking onto a target like the warriors, the explorers prefer to drift with the current and go wherever their passions, interests, and curiosity takes them. They continually seek out new adventures, learning opportunities, and experiences.

Explorers tend to enjoy the journey more than the end result. Sometimes they will lose interest before reaching their destination and take detours to find something else to explore.

Explorers can take big risks, but not for the same reasons as the warriors. While warriors may take big risks to go after what they want, explorers will take risks for the sake of adventure, passion, and excitement.

Explorers are more flexible and open minded than warriors. As a result, they tend to notice and seize the opportunities that warriors miss. They can dream big and see endless possibilities ahead of them.

Explorers can also adapt better than warriors when their chosen strategy is not working, but they are just as likely to give up and move on to something else. Explorers usually don't like to struggle with challenges.

Explorers have no trouble asking for help or accepting the input of others, but they can go at it alone if necessary. They are "people-oriented" and often make inspiring leaders because of their passion and enthusiasm.

Like warriors, explorers are also impulsive and easily bored by details, but they are much more mellow than warriors when it comes to making progress and being productive.

Explorers are motivated by excitement, adventure, and fun and not necessarily by results or achievements. They can be flaky and unreliable when work requires attention to detail.

Explorers rely on their passion to help them succeed. They may stumble and search for a while until they find an opportunity they can seize. Their enthusiasm also helps them recruit others to their cause.

Pitfalls of the Explorer

Explorers dream big, but they often have difficulty realizing their dreams. Their lack of focus and direction can lead them to diffuse their time and energy over many different interests without making progress on any of them. Explorers tend to value fulfillment over achievement.

Their open mindedness and flexibility allows them to see and seize opportunities, but they can have difficulty following through and taking full advantage of them.

Explorers don't like the structure and rigidity imposed by planning, so they often go ahead without making any plans at all. Explorers like to focus on the big picture, but often get lost in the details because of their lack of planning.

The Diplomat

The diplomat archetype likes to be around people and enjoys helping others succeed. Diplomats are  "people-oriented" and in general value people more than results. Diplomats are excellent at networking and building relationships. They get their fulfillment from a sense of belonging, friendship, community, and service to others.

Diplomats are excellent team members, they are easy to get along with and often help teams gel. Diplomats are often more interested in their work environment than their actual work.

Diplomats don't like to take big risks individually, but may do so as part of a group. They are patient and relaxed, but they don't necessarily enjoy detailed work.

Diplomats are not natural planners, but will follow detailed plans as part of the group. They are reliable and loyal.

Diplomats are motivated by relationships, belonging and recognition, shared goals, service to others, and the common good.

Diplomats find success through their relationships, connections, networking, and natural sales skills. They are easy to get along with and can easily recruit others to help them reach their goals.

Pitfalls of the Diplomat

Diplomats can focus so much on the needs and goals of others, that they forget about their own needs. For example, a diplomat may work long hours out of a sense of duty and responsibility to the company and neglect his or her own personal health and well-being.

Diplomats often set goals based on what they think they should want, and not necessarily what they really want. They are sometimes too easily influenced by the expectations and opinions of others.

Because diplomats like to avoid conflict, they may avoid confronting problems and instead allow the situation to deteriorate. Diplomats may also have trouble asserting themselves and expressing their opinions.

The Scholar

Scholars are interested in gaining knowledge, becoming an expert in their field, and mastering their craft. They are very thorough, accurate, reliable, and good with details.

Scholars like structure and standards. They are cautious and careful planners and like to schedule their time in detail. Scholars like doing things the right way and are sticklers for quality. Paradoxically, they can be flexible and open minded in some areas, but extremely stubborn in others.

Scholars are not natural risk-takers and often are set in their ways. Scholars can get along with others, but they tend to be demanding and impatient when they feel others are not performing or contributing to their ability.

They are motivated by curiosity, mastery of their craft, and gaining experience and expertise.

Scholars find success through their expertise, specialized knowledge, and mastery.

Pitfalls of the Scholar

Scholars can focus so much on the details, that they fail to see the larger picture. They can easily fall into the trap of doing very well things that don't need to be done at all. They may focus too much on doing things the right way, and not enough on whether they are doing the right things.

Scholars like to feel in control and dislike appearing foolish or unprepared. They are uneasy when venturing outside their area of expertise. Because of this, they can neglect other aspects of their work and focus too much on what they know best. For example, scholar managers may micromanage their staff because they are good at doing the work and not necessarily good at managing others. Scholar business owners may neglect marketing and sales because they are too distracted with the technical work that they love.

Scholars aversion to change and risk-taking may trap them in a comfort zone. If they are not careful, they may fall into a rut and fail to reach their true potential.

Scholars tend to be perfectionists and hold themselves and others to very high standards. Their perfectionism can cause scholars to spend too much time making sure their work is of the highest quality even when it is not required. Their unrealistic expectations of others may cause conflict and tension.

Scholars attention to detail and perfectionism may also lead them to spend too much time planning and not enough doing.

How Your Archetype Affects the Way You Set Goals

All archetypes can find success and fulfillment, although they usually go about it in different ways. It is rare to find someone who is a pure warrior, explorer, diplomat, or scholar. Most people contain different levels of each archetype, with one or two dominating more than the others.

Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your dominant archetypes helps you structure and adapt the goal setting process to capitalize on your strengths while avoiding the common pitfalls you are likely to encounter.

The following section provides some goal setting suggestions for each of the archetypes.

Goal setting suggestions for Warriors:

  • You are probably a natural goal setter and already think about your goals regularly. You will benefit from writing down your goals and doing some planning for each of them.

  • Since you tend to focus too much on intermediate goals, and not enough on the big picture, try to identify the dreams inspiring your goals (what's the difference). Reviewing your dreams periodically will help you see if your goals are still helping you reach your ultimate destinations. You may also notice opportunities that you may have failed to see otherwise.

  • Make sure that your dreams and goals will also help you find fulfillment and not just achievement. One way to do this is to create mission and vision statements for your various life areas and review them regularly to verify that your dreams and goals are in alignment with them.

  • Take some time to plan your dreams and goals. Although you don't like to focus on the details, you will find that planning helps you achieve better results with less effort.

  • Your inflexibility and stubbornness may cause problems if your chosen strategy is not working. Having big picture dreams in addition to your intermediate goals will help you determine if your chosen goals are not working.

  • Make sure that you take enough time to enjoy the journey. Otherwise, you may find upon reaching your destination that the fulfillment you were hoping for has eluded you once again.

Goal setting suggestions for Explorers:

  • You are a natural dreamer. You don't have problems seeing the big picture or knowing what is possible in your life. Your main problem is figuring out how to get there from where you are now. Many explorers never even attempt to go after what they want because they are simply too overwhelmed by the size of their dreams, and they don't know how to get started. Explorers often benefit significantly from breaking their large dreams into smaller more manageable pieces using the goal setting process.

  • You will benefit greatly from writing down your goals, making plans for them, and reviewing them often. You may have an erroneous belief that making plans will somehow limit or trap you, where the opposite is often the case.

  • You need to prioritize and focus your time and energy on a smaller number of goals. Explorers can easily diffuse their efforts over many different projects without accomplishing anything. Don't fall into the trap of majoring in minors. Writing down your dreams and goals and making plans for them will provide more focus and direction to your life.

Goal setting suggestions for Diplomats:

  • Diplomats are not natural goal setters. It is very easy for diplomats to flow through life taking care of others without thinking enough about what they really want, or what would make them happy. Most diplomats will benefit from figuring out what they want and going after it using the goal setting process.

  • Make sure that the goals that you set are your own. You are sometimes too easily influenced by the expectations and desires of others. Examples would be sacrificing your own goals to please your parents or your boss.

  • Whenever you feel that you should set a goal, but you are not really sure you want to set it, take a closer look at your motives. This is a red flag telling you that this may not be one of your own goals. Try to find the reason "why" you feel you should set it.

Goal setting suggestions for Scholars:

  • Scholars can focus too much on details and not enough on the big picture. While they are good at setting goals and making plans, it is not something that comes naturally to them. Scholars need to take the time and effort to think about their long-term dreams and goals, make plans for their accomplishment, and follow through. Their attention to detail and work-ethic make scholars very successful once they focus on the right targets.

  • Scholars can easily get trapped in a "comfort zone" because they like to avoid taking risks, venturing outside their area of expertise, or making changes. Remember that great accomplishments often require taking risks and facing the possibility of failure. Figuring out what you want, writing down your dreams and goals, and reviewing them often may help you to step outside your comfort zone and reach your full potential.

  • Don't expect yourself to be perfect when going after a big dream. Remember that even the most successful people often fail repeatedly before achieving a breakthrough. Your high standards may cause you to give up too quickly if things are not going your way.

  • You need to be on the lookout for "analysis paralysis." While it is good to make plans and pay attention to details, at some point you have to take action. Even the best plans won't help you if you never act on them.

  • Don't wait for everything to be "perfect" before you take the plunge. Although it is good to have high standards, if you wait for everything to be just right before acting, your time may never come.

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