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Setting and Achieving your Goals

Have you ever had a desire to do something with your life and yet this seems like a pie in the sky dream?  Many people procrastinate and make excuses for not achieving their dreams.  Sometimes achieving their dreams requires significant personal change in order to move out of their comfort zone.  Here are some tips to help you open yourself to the possibility of change:

Start by identifying something you would love to do with your life and assess this using the following questions.

  • First ask yourself ‘what would having this or achieving that mean to me?’ If one of your goals goes like this, to own an expensive car, evaluate what owning that car would do for you or mean to you.  For example you might answer that it would make you feel really powerful, then ask yourself if there is anything else that could give you the same sense of power.  Answering this question will establish how meaningful it is to you to achieve your goal of getting a new car.  The answers could refocus you on a different goal. 
  • Another way of doing this is to complete the following sentences:  Owning a new Mercedes is important to me because .[it gives me a sense of power].  Having [a sense of power] is important to me because of [Y].  Having [Y] is important to me because of … Repeating this sentence a few times can yield your own underlying value system.  It might happen that by undertaking this process that owning an expensive car is incongruent with your value system.
  • Now get back to your goal and ask yourself why you don’t have it now or are not doing it right now or are not taking steps right now to make it happen within a particular time frame?  This brings up the excuse layer.  For example, ‘it is too expensive’, ‘I don’t have the energy’ or ‘I have too many other things to do’.  Maybe for a long time, you have been thinking about starting up your own business and yet you are still working for someone else. One solution to is to break achieving your goal down into small steps.  For example paying for the whole Diploma is expensive up front, but can you afford to do a module at a time and pay accordingly? 
  • Sometimes achieving the goal attracts something negative into your life.  For example obtaining that promotion might distance you from your former peers or invite jealousy or might involve longer hours and more responsibility.  Go back to looking at how the job supports your value systems.  Being congruent is what is important to good mental health.  Also assess what you can control or can’t control in a situation.  One thing that is certain is that we can’t change other people.  We can only work on ourselves.  Complete the following sentence ‘I don’t want to get the promotion because …….[it means too much responsibility].  Continue with ‘I don’t want [too much responsibility] because ……Keep going with this line of questioning and see what that uncovers. 
  • Being aware of the excuses we put in our way to prevent us realising our goals or dreams is very important.  Write down these excuses and become pro-active in eliminating or reducing these excuses.  Imagine you are coaching a friend who is like you, who has these excuses.  What advice would you give?  I am sure that you would be much more proactive and solution driven with a friend than you are with yourself.  I am also sure that if you did not know the answers, you would recommend to your friend to ask someone who did, such as another coach or financial advisor, fitness expert, etc.  There are always other people willing to give help and advice. 
  • Use your vivid imagination to see, feel or hear yourself driving that expensive car, or walking up to collect that Diploma hearing the applause of your friends and family. It has often been said that if you can’t imagine yourself achieving your goal, then it will be difficult to achieve it for real.  For example if you have difficulty in imagining yourself having more money, find out why?
  • One popular excuse is ‘I am too old to do that’.  How old will you be in five years when you have completed your Diploma?  How old will you be in five years if you do nothing about completing your Diploma?  Same age but … Again remind yourself what achieving this goal will mean to you.
  • Sometimes we worry about uncertainty. ‘It’s too risky.’ Well, no one can predict the future.  All we can do about uncertainty is to get as much information and help about a situation as we possibly can, do the planning and treat every challenge as a learning opportunity.  As someone once said, if you continue to do the same old things in the same old way, then nothing will change.
  • Once you are happy with your goals, then make them SMART goals.  That is, write down your goals making them Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time phased.  Establish a schedule of steps that need to be taken to achieve your goals and carry out one of those steps within 24 hours of setting the goal. 
  • Remember that ‘the map is not the territory’ or ‘the menu is not the meal’.  You are on a journey starting at point A and ending at point B. Maybe you will take detours, stop along the way to reflect or maybe you might decide to go to point C instead.  Enjoy!
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