Embracing “Be” Goals For Enhanced Well-Being, Peak Performance, And Professional Success

article goal achievement well-being

  March 11, 2024

In today's fast-paced professional environment, achieving a balance between career aspirations and personal well-being is more challenging than ever. As professionals, we strive to excel in our roles, driven by a myriad of goals that promise success, recognition, and fulfillment. However, this relentless pursuit often leads to a common oversight: the distinction between "Do" goals, which are task-oriented and achievement-focused, and "Be" goals, which pertain to personal growth and qualities we aspire to embody. While the former are crucial for professional progress, an exclusive focus on them can inadvertently trigger stress, burnout, and a pervasive sense of dissatisfaction. Neuroscience offers insightful perspectives on how these two types of goals differently impact our mental and emotional landscapes, shedding light on the intricate balance necessary for sustained well-being and performance. By weaving together the science of the brain with practical goal-setting strategies, let's explore a shift toward a more holistic approach to success - one that harmonizes the doing with the being, leading not only to enhanced professional outcomes but also to a richer, more fulfilling life. Through a blend of scientific evidence and actionable advice, we embark on a journey to redefine what it means to achieve and thrive in the modern workplace.

The Problem

In the quest for professional achievement, we often prioritize "Do" goals - concrete, measurable objectives such as completing projects, hitting targets, or securing promotions. This focus is largely driven by external metrics of success, which, although critical for career advancement, inadvertently sidelines the importance of "Be" goals. "Be" goals revolve around personal development and embodying specific qualities or states of being, such as leadership, empathy, or resilience. The problem arises when the relentless pursuit of "Do" goals leads to a one-dimensional approach to success, characterized by a perpetual race against the next benchmark without a moment's pause for introspection or alignment with one's deeper values and aspirations.

Neuroscience research highlights the consequences of this imbalance, showing that an overemphasis on "Do" goals triggers the brain's stress response systems. This activation is not just momentary; it can become a chronic state, leading to elevated levels of cortisol and other stress hormones, which are detrimental to cognitive function, emotional well-being, and overall health. Furthermore, this constant state of stress and the narrow focus on task-oriented achievements diminish the brain's capacity for creative thinking, problem-solving, and emotional intelligence - all vital skills in today's complex professional environments.

The underrepresentation of "Be" goals not only contributes to personal dissonance and dissatisfaction but also impacts professional performance. Without aligning daily tasks and long-term objectives with core values and personal growth ambitions, we risk a sense of aimlessness, decreased motivation, and a potential decline in job satisfaction and engagement. This misalignment poses a significant problem for individuals and organizations alike, calling for a re-evaluation of how goals are conceptualized and pursued in professional settings.

Moreover, the neglect of "Be" goals creates a barrier to authentic professional development. Without striving to embody qualities such as empathy, leadership, or resilience, we may find ourselves ill-equipped to navigate the complexities of modern work environments. This lack of personal growth and development can lead to stagnation, where we are performing tasks competently but without passion or engagement.

This growing dissonance between what we do and who we aspire to be raises critical questions about the sustainability of current work practices. It challenges both individuals and organizations to reconsider the metrics by which success is measured and to redefine achievement in terms that encompass both professional accomplishments and personal well-being. Ignoring this call to action risks perpetuating a cycle of burnout, disengagement, and underperformance, threatening the very foundations of productivity and innovation in the professional world.

Integrating "Be" Goals

To address the imbalance between "Do" and "Be" goals and foster a healthier, more productive professional life, integrating "Be" goals into your personal and career development plan is essential. "Be" goals focus on personal qualities and states of being you aspire to achieve, such as becoming more empathetic, resilient, or a visionary leader. These goals emphasize the process of personal growth and the intrinsic rewards that come from aligning your actions with your values and aspirations. Here's how to start integrating "Be" goals into your life:

Identify Your Core Values and Aspirations
Begin by reflecting on what qualities are most important to you in both your personal and professional life. Consider what states of being you admire in others and would like to cultivate in yourself. This step is about understanding who you want to be at your core and how you can express these values through your work and interactions.

Set Specific "Be" Goals
Once you've identified your core values, translate them into specific goals. For instance, if one of your values is leadership, a "Be" goal might be to "be a more empathetic and inspiring leader." Make these goals as concrete and actionable as possible, breaking them down into behaviors and practices you can incorporate into your daily routine.

Align Actions with "Be" Goals
Integrate actions that reflect your "Be" goals into your daily and weekly plans. For example, if your goal is to be more empathetic, you might set a goal to have one-on-one meetings with team members to understand their challenges and perspectives better. This step is about making your "Be" goals a living part of your everyday life, creating a direct link between your aspirations and your actions.

Practice Mindfulness and Reflection
Mindfulness practices such as meditation, journaling, or simply taking moments of pause throughout the day can enhance self-awareness and help you stay connected to your "Be" goals. Regular reflection on your progress and experiences can also provide valuable insights into how well your actions align with your desired states of being.

Seek Feedback and Engage in Continuous Learning
Feedback from peers, mentors, or coaches can provide an outside perspective on your progress towards your "Be" goals. Additionally, engaging in continuous learning through reading, workshops, or other educational opportunities can introduce new ideas and strategies for personal growth.

Measure Progress in Terms of Growth
Unlike "Do" goals, which often have clear, measurable outcomes, "Be" goals are about personal development, which can be more challenging to quantify. Measure progress by reflecting on changes in your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors over time. Celebrate the small victories and the incremental progress you make towards embodying the qualities you aspire to.

Integrating "Be" goals into your professional life is a dynamic process that encourages continuous growth and adaptation. By focusing on who you want to be, not just what you want to do, you open the door to a more fulfilling, balanced, and effective approach to personal and professional development.

Balancing "Do" and "Be" Goals

Achieving a harmonious balance between "Do" and "Be" goals is key to enhancing well-being and performance in the professional realm. This balance allows individuals to not only reach their tangible achievements but also grow in alignment with their values and aspirations. Here are strategies to ensure a healthy balance between achieving and being:

Create a Dual-Track Goal Plan
Develop a goal-setting strategy that includes both "Do" and "Be" goals in equal measure. For every "Do" goal related to task achievement, set a corresponding "Be" goal that focuses on personal growth or embodying a specific quality. This approach ensures that progress and success are not only measured by external accomplishments but also by internal development and satisfaction.

Prioritize Reflection and Alignment
Regularly assess how well your "Do" goals align with your "Be" goals. This might involve weekly or monthly reflection sessions where you consider whether your pursuit of certain achievements is contributing to or detracting from your desired state of being. If misalignments are found, adjust your goals accordingly to ensure they support each other.

Leverage Visualization Techniques
Visualization can be a powerful tool for balancing "Do" and "Be" goals. Regularly take time to visualize not only the achievement of your "Do" goals but also the realization of your "Be" goals. Imagine yourself embodying the qualities you aspire to and how that influences your approach to your tasks and interactions. This practice can strengthen the mental and emotional connections between your actions and your values.

Integrate Goals into Daily Practices
Find ways to incorporate both "Do" and "Be" goals into your daily routines and decisions. For instance, if one of your "Be" goals is to become more mindful and present, you might start each workday with a brief meditation or mindfulness exercise. Similarly, if a "Do" goal is to complete a specific project, consider how you can approach this task in a way that also honors your "Be" goals, such as fostering teamwork or creativity.

Seek Synergy Between Goals
Look for opportunities where your "Do" and "Be" goals naturally support each other. Achieving synergy between these goal types can amplify your effectiveness and satisfaction. For example, leading a complex project (a "Do" goal) can offer numerous opportunities to practice leadership, empathy, and resilience (all "Be" goals), enriching the experience and outcomes of both.

Embrace Flexibility and Adaptability
The balance between "Do" and "Be" goals is not static; it requires ongoing adjustment and adaptability. Life's circumstances and our personal growth continually evolve, so it's important to remain open to re-evaluating and adjusting your goals as needed. This flexibility ensures that both types of goals remain relevant and supportive of your overall well-being and professional success.

Balancing "Do" and "Be" goals involves a continuous process of self-reflection, adjustment, and growth. By thoughtfully integrating these goal types into your professional and personal life, you can achieve a richer, more fulfilling career that aligns with your deepest values and aspirations, ultimately leading to enhanced well-being and performance.

Practical Application and Habit Formation

To effectively integrate and balance "Do" and "Be" goals, transforming them into sustainable habits is crucial. Practical application through daily routines and consistent practices ensures that these goals become ingrained parts of your professional identity and lifestyle. Here's how to translate your balanced goals into actionable habits:

Establish Routine Check-Ins
Dedicate specific times for reviewing both your "Do" and "Be" goals, such as a weekly planning session or a daily morning review. These check-ins serve as reminders of your commitments and help maintain focus on both the achievements and the personal qualities you're working towards. Utilizing tools like journals or digital apps can aid in tracking your progress and reflections.

Create Daily Intentions
Start each day by setting intentions that align with your "Be" goals. For example, if one of your "Be" goals is to be more present and engaged, you might set an intention to have mindful conversations or to focus fully on each task. Linking daily intentions to your broader "Be" goals helps to manifest these qualities in your everyday actions.

Develop Specific Practices for "Be" Goals
Identify practical activities that support your "Be" goals and incorporate them into your routine. If your goal is to enhance your leadership skills, you might include practices such as mentoring a colleague or leading a team meeting with a new approach. These practices should be specific enough to act upon and reflect on regularly.

Leverage Habit Stacking
Build new habits by stacking them onto existing ones. If you already have a habit of reviewing your task list each morning, add a step to reflect on how your tasks for the day can serve your "Be" goals. This method reduces the effort needed to remember new practices by associating them with established routines.

Embrace Small Wins
Recognize and celebrate progress towards your "Be" goals, no matter how small. Acknowledging growth in personal qualities can be more subjective than ticking off a task, so it's important to become attuned to subtle shifts in your behavior, mindset, or reactions. These small wins are significant milestones in your journey of personal and professional development.

Seek Support and Accountability
Share your goals with a trusted colleague, mentor, or coach who can provide feedback and hold you accountable. This support network can offer perspectives on your progress, suggest adjustments, and celebrate your achievements along the way. Knowing that someone else is aware of your goals can also boost your motivation to maintain them.

Reflect and Adapt
Regular reflection on the effectiveness of your habits in achieving your "Do" and "Be" goals is vital. Ask yourself what's working, what isn't, and why. Be prepared to adapt your strategies as you learn more about yourself and as your goals evolve. This reflective practice ensures that your actions remain aligned with your evolving aspirations and circumstances.

By embedding your "Do" and "Be" goals into your daily practices and forming habits around them, you create a living framework that guides your actions, decisions, and interactions. This approach not only enhances your ability to achieve your goals but also fosters a deeper sense of fulfillment and alignment with your core values and professional vision.


In today's dynamic professional landscape, achieving a balanced approach to goal setting that includes both "Do" and "Be" goals is not just beneficial - it's essential for sustained well-being and performance. By integrating "Be" goals focused on personal growth and qualities alongside traditional "Do" goals centered on specific achievements, professionals can create a more fulfilling and effective path to success. This holistic approach to goal setting encourages a deeper alignment between an individual's actions and their core values and aspirations, leading to enhanced satisfaction, resilience, and adaptability in the face of challenges.

The journey towards balancing "Do" and "Be" goals is underpinned by the principles of neuroscience, highlighting the importance of managing stress, fostering neuroplasticity through continuous learning, and enhancing cognitive and emotional well-being through mindful practices. As we navigate our professional careers, the intentional pursuit of both types of goals ensures a richer, more nuanced approach to personal and professional development - one that values the individual behind the achievements and recognizes the power of becoming over merely doing.

Embracing this dual approach to goal setting not only enriches our professional lives but also contributes to a more positive and productive workplace culture. By championing a balance between achieving and being, organizations and individuals alike can foster environments that encourage innovation, collaboration, and a shared sense of purpose. In the end, the true measure of success is not just the milestones we reach but the people we become in the process. Through a commitment to integrating "Do" and "Be" goals, we open the door to a more fulfilling, balanced, and impactful career path, marked by both achievement and personal growth.

Brewer, J. A., Worhunsky, P. D., Gray, J. R., Tang, Y.-Y., Weber, J., & Kober, H. (2011). Meditation experience is associated with differences in default mode network activity and connectivity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(50), 20254–20259. (This study explores how mindfulness meditation affects activity in the brain's default mode network, related to self-referential thoughts and mind-wandering)
Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Ballantine Books. (Although not primary research, Dweck's work on fixed vs. growth mindsets underlines the importance of continuous learning and adaptability, which are key to neuroplasticity)
Grant, A. (2013). Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success. Viking. (Grant's work, though more focused on interpersonal dynamics, touches upon the importance of aligning one's actions with broader personal values for sustainable success)
McEwen, B. S. (2007). Physiology and Neurobiology of Stress and Adaptation: Central Role of the Brain. Physiological Reviews, 87(3), 873–904. (This review discusses how stress affects brain function, particularly in the context of chronic stress related to the relentless pursuit of goals)
Sheldon, K. M., & Elliot, A. J. (1999). Goal Striving, Need Satisfaction, and Longitudinal Well-Being: The Self-Concordance Model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76(3), 482–497. (This seminal paper introduces the self-concordance model, which suggests that the pursuit of goals aligned with one's interests and values leads to greater well-being and satisfaction)
Taylor, S. E., Pham, L. B., Rivkin, I. D., & Armor, D. A. (1998). Harnessing the imagination: Mental simulation, self-regulation, and coping. American Psychologist, 53(4), 429–439. (This research highlights the effectiveness of visualization techniques in achieving goals and coping with challenges)