Why the WHO Questions Matter When Setting New Goals

Guest Blogger Jennifer Fonseca shares:


You are probably wondering is this another end of the year blog designed to get you to reflect back on what you accomplished this past year, or maybe another New Year goal-setting post. Nope! Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that those aren’t noble or necessary things to do. They are. However, I would like to suggest perhaps a new or different, dare I say better, starting point.

Every year around this time many of us look backward and forward – review the past, examine our wins/losses, then focus on the future goals/strategy/plans. These are good things to do both personally and/or as a founder/solopreneur. While it is important to think through these things, I’d like to suggest a better starting point—look inward at WHO you are and WHO your business is.

Asking WHO questions really need to precede the what and how questions which are typical of year-end reviews and New Year’s goal setting. Below are two primary areas of one’s WHO that I recommend be examined, and can be applied to one’s business:


  1. WHO do you believe yourself to be – your core beliefs.

  2. WHO are you by nature – your character and core values.

To avoid this post being a novella, let’s just tackle the first recommendation of examining your core beliefs of WHO you are – what I like to call our “I am” statements. But first, let me provide you compelling reasons why knowing your WHO and starting with this question is so critically important:

  1. Our behavior is really driven by our core beliefs about ourselves. Our businesses are driven based on their core beliefs. When these are not in alignment or we are operating out of incorrect perceptions, they directly impact our results.

  2. To achieve those BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) for next year, you (or your business) must be WHO your goals need you to be – especially if you hope to sustain that level of success.

Your WHO drives everything else — including your why! And your WHO also impacts and affects your progress and results. Now, if you are doubting this, let me share with you a true story that my friend shared with me just the other day to illustrate the power of knowing your WHO!

My friend, we’ll call him Bryan, is an entrepreneur with a few start-ups under his belt. Over the last few years, Bryan has worked on a BIG idea that has the potential to be “hopefully world-changing”. We made an agreement a few months back that he would write and publish a Whitepaper on the idea/platform he has been developing. The weeks and deadlines came and went. When we had an accountability chat about it he said, “I am just a big procrastinator”. I completely disagreed. Some of us are more pressure prompted, but our identity, our WHO, is not a procrastinator! Oh, we may be selectively motivated (I prefer that term), but when we put things off it is because of a deeper reason, often fueled by inaccurate view ourselves – a core belief issue of WHO we are.

So I pressed him a bit on this and Bryan admitted, “I literally will find anything else to do in order to avoid writing the Whitepaper. And, honestly, I don’t know why”. That’s when I suggested the 5 Why’s exercise to Bryan. I asked him to ask himself, “why am I procrastinating on writing this Whitepaper?”. Then when he has the answer to that question write it down and then ask himself why again. The goal is to ask yourself why five times until you get down to the core issue/belief (or limiting belief) that is preventing you from accomplishing the very thing you wanted to do. Bryan’s results from doing this exercise were healing, liberating, and set up for a huge payoff! Here it is in his own words:

“I took your advice and went through the 5 Why’s exercise and I was able to fully put my finger on my blockages that have been preventing me from finishing this Whitepaper. It came down to an irrational fear of failure based on and dating back to childhood. So, I was able to pinpoint exactly where that fear came from. Now I am re-writing the way I am viewing those past failures... Once I started to make the shift in perception (of who I am) everything else started to change.”

Bryan identified a core belief about himself (I am a failure) that subconsciously was defining and setting ceilings on what he could or could not accomplish. It drove his behavior. The why for his idea is amazing, but without a solid WHO behind it, well, it is just too massive an undertaking to achieve. Bryan convinced himself based on a false belief of WHO he was that he should give up on his goal and that he lost his passion for it so it must not really be his purpose. Does this sound familiar to you?

These early-life failures formed a tiny little lie that had a consequential impact. Once he changed the narrative of WHO he was, the doors of opportunity opened up! Supportive friends showed up and took interest in his BIG idea. Bryan went so far as to say, “I have been making tremendous headway on the assets I need to communicate this idea, and to top it all off a group of likeminded people just yesterday posted a high paying position looking for someone with my exact skill set to implement the very idea I have”. He ended his message with three of the “mind-blown” emojis. I cried.

Maybe you struggle with imposter syndrome. You wonder if you really have what it takes. Until we address those core beliefs about WHO we are or who we perceive ourselves to be, we will continually look back with regret and will have trouble moving forward without fear. So maybe for today start asking yourself the following WHO questions:

  1. Who am I?

  2. What core beliefs were driving what you did or did not accomplish last year?

  3. What “I am” statements do I have that are really unproductive and self-limiting beliefs?

  4. What narrative am I telling myself, and if it is unproductive, what is the new narrative I want to write to help me to move forward?


About the Author:

Jennifer Fonseca currently serves as the Destiny Activator / Assistant Director of Career Development at Palm Beach Atlantic University, while managing her private coaching practice. Jennifer serves on the Board of Florida Association of Colleges and Employers (FloridaACE), earned the best-rated workshop at the Florida ACE 2017 annual conference, gave the opening keynote at the state drive-in event (November 2017), is the closing keynote for a 2018 state-wide association, and launched hundreds of students into successful and engaging careers from the White House, Secret Service, and entrepreneurs making six-figure salaries.


She earned her M.Ed. at the University of Toledo (after reading and embracing What Color is Your Parachute), and has a B.S. in Journalism/Public Relations from Bowling Green State University. She was certified by Gallup in 2003 in StrengthsFinder, and is a certified practitioner in the Strong Interest Inventory and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.


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