Building A Success Architecture

For many years, I’ve gone through this pattern: 1. Set some big cool goal 2. Throw my energy and will at it 3. Start to lose stamina and motivation. Then, of course, I’d feel disappointed, flaky, undisciplined and rather confused about why a smart, capable woman like me couldn’t make the changes I wanted to make.

I have noticed friends, family members and coaches struggling with the same thing. Grand plans would be announced — new fitness regime, new project, new healthy habit — and those plans would rarely come to fruition.

I started to explore: What really causes us to achieve what we want? What allows us to make significant change? I began to see that goal-achievement has much more to do with setting up the right context and supports — than with an amazing feat of will.

Based on this understanding, I developed a tool for goal-planning called A Success Architecture. A Success Architecture is a structure around your goals that supports and nurtures it. It’s about giving yourself a lot of gifts and many resources, so that getting what you want comes like water flowing downhill — not like climbing a steep uphill.

The 8 Elements of A Success Architecture

Below are the eight crucial elements of A Success Architecture. Think of an important goal in your life, and brainstorm potential ideas for each of the 8 elements as you read along.

1.    Foundation: A Resonant Goal

  • To sustain motivation and reach your goal, the goal itself needs to come from your authentic self. Check in with yourself to see: Is your goal about pleasing you — or pleasing other people? Is about becoming more of who you really are, our about being hard on yourself and perfectionist? Is this something you truly want for yourself, or is it a “should?”
  • Here are some clues to look for: Resonant goals feel good in your body and a little scary (since they often take us out of our comfort zones). When you’ve found a resonant goal, you’ll have the sense that the process will be as meaningful and joyful as the destination. The goal will honor and reflect your values.
  • When you know your goal is true to you, when it feels juicy, exciting and aligned-with-who-you are, you are ready to move forward in crafting the other elements of your success architecture.

2.    Spiritual Connection

  • What larger force is your partner in this? A higher power, the universe, the power of Love, Life itself? The force of goodness in the world? You can use any term or concept that works for you, but find some larger force and power that you see as your partner in working toward your goal. Then explore: how will you engage it and connect with it along the way?

3.    Emotional Connections

  • Champions: Who can you enlist who believes in you? Who will see and believe in the future that hasn’t arrived yet? Who will remind you of your strength and power when you can’t see them?
  • Sources of Accountability: Who will know when you don’t follow through? Who is holding you accountable? How will you check in with them? Or do you need to ask them to check in with you?

4.    Definitions of Success/Milestones:

  • How will you know if you’ve succeeded along the way? What key steps or milestones can you put in place? When will they happen? Put a few of these in place to ensure you stay on track.

5.    Context

  • Pull the camera back and look at the big picture of your life. What in your life needs to change to enable you to achieve this goal? What needs to be eliminated? Let your intuition guide you here.

6.    Celebrations:

  • Celebrating regularly is critical. Design celebrations that will truly be fun and invigorating for you. How will you celebrate, and how often?

7.    Re-Inspiration:

  • Sometimes, motivation will fade. At some moments, you will get disconnected from your purpose. How will you get re-inspired when this happens? Build in plans and tools for this from the beginning.

8.    Balcony: Structures for Evaluation, Iteration and Reflection

  • Everything is an experiment to see what truly works for you. When and how will you step back and evaluate how it is going?

After you have brainstormed about the elements of your success architecture, put your notes aside and come back to them in a few days.

Select the ideas that feel resonant, realistic and exciting from each of your brainstorms and draft “A Success Architecture Plan” that includes each element.

Keep your plan where you can see it regularly, and make sure you are paying attention to each of the critical elements.

Don’t forget, if you having trouble sustaining motivation, action or forward progress, don’t beat yourself up. Go back to your success architecture and see how you can “re-model” it to more effectively support you.

Isn’t this a more sane, loving, supportive-to-yourself way to work on your goals? You deserve it.

Tara Sophia Mohr is a writer and coach who works with women to help them live more fulfilling, authentic, on-purpose lives. She received her MBA from Stanford University, where her studies focused on leadership and entrepreneurship. Visit Tara’s site at Or click here to get Tara’s free guide to setting and achieving your most important goals.


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