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Are Goals really worth it? The BE-DO-HAVE model.

Updated: Nov 9, 2020

Decades ago, Steven Covey introduced the Be-Do-Have model in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. On the surface it may seem either counter-intuitive or confusing (or both), but perhaps there is more to this model than meet the eye.


Stop setting goals. Goals are pure fantasy unless you have a specific plan to achieve them.
To achieve goals you've never achieved before, you need to start doing things you've never done before. Begin with the end in mind.

Steven Covey



After establishing a desired goal, Covey asks us to identify 3 questions in a very specific sequence:



1. Who do I need to be in order to accomplish this goal?

2. What do I need to do in order to accomplish this goal?

3. What do I need to have in order to accomplish this goal?


BE. Covey requests we ask this question first. Ask, and then reflect upon the answer. Why? Because it's suggested that this determines your state of being. He states that it is who you are, not what you have or what you do, that is the real driver of our influence.


Interestingly, when one observes their surroundings, the Be-Do-Have model may not be the most commonly used. Instead, often most social, familial and organisational micro-cultures use the Do-Have-Be model. In other words, if we do such-and-such thing – do a course, gain a level of authority, lose weight, buy something– then we can have increased prestige, money, admiration, self esteem, at which point we will be successful, happy, fulfilled.


Other micro-cultures may engage the Have-Do-Be model, which can be described in the following way: When I have the time, budget, and support I need, then I will be able to do the things that will enable me to be successful at achieving my goals.

So how does it work?

First we may wish to practice being what we want (peaceful, loving, inspired, abundant, successful etc) Author Time Hayes states that to be can mean to try and be the person who embodies everything that is a manifestation of what you desire. You can become a student, a lover, a helper, a participant, a listener, an absorber and a magnet for whatever is your desire. When you fully allow yourself to be this, you will clearly know what to do that is necessary, required and right in all your choices and decisions that involve whatever is my passion.

Then we have the option to start doing things from this state of being – and we may soon discover that what we’re doing ends up bringing us the things we’ve always wanted to have in an easier, more organic way. A bit like swimming with the current rather than against it.

What if we were able to practice living in a state of flow with this powerful principle of Be-Do-Have more of the time? What if we remembered that we have the capacity to experience any state of being we choose - at any time – not just when we achieve exactly what we’re after or things work out perfectly?

Here are a few helpful things we can do to remember & practice being who and how we want to be in life:


  1. Think of some of the biggest goals or dreams in your life right now. What is it that you think the accomplishment of this goal will bring you eg. happiness, joy, abundance, fulfilment, peace, freedom, etc.

  2. Start embodying that state of being that you believe will come from the accomplishment of this goal. For example, you may start practicing being joyful as if you already accomplished your goal. Rather than feeling incongruous or like you're just faking, it’s more about authentically embodying the desired states of being you truly desire in your life.

  3. From this state of being, think about, talk about, and contemplate the kinds of specific actions you may wish to take. Allow yourself to ponder, don’t rush, give yourself time and space. You may be surprised at how the actions will start to show up with ease and your ability to both take them and allow them to work may increase exponentially.

  4. It can be important to not take this exercise too seriously, do it with a smile and a state of focussed playfulness. The model of Be-Do-Have like most things in life is something to practice and play with rather than something to create stress over.

As the saying goes, we are human beings, not human doings. When we remember this, our life can take off in profound and fulfilling ways.


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