January is just around the corner and you know what that means – New Year’s resolutions! A commonly cited statistic is that only 8% of people actually keep their New Year’s resolutions. Isn’t that amazing! We typically see the following twelve months of a new year as a clean slate of possibility. We look back at all the things we didn’t accomplish the previous year and exclaim “This is my year!”
Setting goals has even become an entire industry in and of itself with competitions like “The Biggest Loser” and the proliferation of yearly goal setting planners determined to keep you motivated and on track.
Have you ever heard of the saying “If you want to know how enlightened you are, spend a weekend with your family”? Well the message that I want to teach about goal setting is “If you want to know what’s been creating the life you currently have, set a goal.” Your mind will show you everything you need to know about your failed New Year’s resolutions and much, much more.
This week I’m going to discuss why we shy away from setting goals, how we can uncover “gold” when we set a goal and steps to take before, during and after setting a goal.
Why we shy away from setting goals
Some of the reasons we may not want to set a goal is because we’ve failed in the past so we don’t believe we can succeed this time or we’ve got enough to do so we don’t want to start something new or we feel life is pretty good right now so why rock the boat.
I once heard someone say “If you are happy most of the time, you probably don’t have a big enough goal.” That comment literally made me stop in my tracks. Could I be playing small out of fear? Could I have become complacent, just wanting to stand still?
After my divorce I did a lot of self-growth work and had finally gotten to a positive place in my life. I went from feeling good only 25% of the time pre-divorce, to 75% of the time post-divorce. Getting through my divorce with my sanity intact and receiving accolades from my bosses regarding my ability to not let my divorce affect my job was a huge accomplishment.
But the dust had settled, life was really good and I had to admit that I wasn’t challenging myself with a new goal that would continue to stretch me. I had to realize that I could be happy with where I was and still want more without being selfish. Wanting more doesn’t make us ungrateful for what we have.
The purpose of having a goal isn’t to achieve a future feeling of happiness. In the Manage Your Mind Model, I teach my clients that the feeling of happiness comes from our thoughts. That feeling of happiness is available to us right now and doesn’t have to wait until we reach that goal of making a certain amount of money, losing a certain number of pounds or getting a certain promotion (for help with the Manage Your Mind Model get your free copy here of “5 Simple Steps To Reduce Overwhelm Today”).
The purpose of a goal is to help us evolve into a greater version of ourselves. Goals challenge us to think differently and they give our brains something new to focus on.
Uncovering “gold” when you set a goal
The best part about setting a goal is who you need to become in order to achieve it. It stretches you in ways that you previously haven’t achieved. You have to think, feel and act differently if you want to get results you’ve never had before.
Goals are just results that you have to power to create when you learn how to manage your most important tool – your mind.
Our brain naturally resists new things. It likes familiarity because it doesn’t have to expend so much energy learning something new. Because of this, setting a goal will most likely trigger negative beliefs, which then lead to negative emotions and usually to resistance or inaction.
All of this is “gold” because it gives you the opportunity to choose new thoughts, feel more positive emotions and explore actions that push you out of your comfort zone. Once you’ve done the work of managing your mind, you will uncover the “gold”of a new way of being. You will then be able to apply it to anything that challenges you in your life.
While you are managing your mind to achieve your goal you will learn to overcome doubts, work through fears and move past confusion. You will discover the reason you probably haven’t been successful in achieving goals in the past because you will see how you got those prior results.
It’s helpful to understand that when you set a goal, you are either achieving it or you are learning from it. There is no failure. What stops us from setting goals is the pressure we put on ourselves to succeed or else. The amazing thing about learning to manage your mind is that you get to decide what every result means.
For example, you could have a goal to lose 25 pounds in 6 months. At the end of the 6 months, you lost 15 pounds. Was that a failure? You get to decide with the thoughts you think about the result:
- You can choose to see the result as a failure, feel defeated which will then lead to inaction or
- You can choose to feel good about the 15 pounds lost and consider taking additional action to lose the remaining 10 pounds over the next 6 months
Setting a goal and managing your mind before, during and after is how you evolve and grow.
Steps to take before, during and after
It doesn’t matter what your experience has been in the past with setting and achieving goals, I’m going to share some tips that will help you through the whole process.
Before setting a goal:
Exercise – Wanting from a place of abundance
Before you set a goal and start thinking from a place of what you don’t have, I suggest you do the following:
- Make a list of 25 things you want BUT every other thing must be something you already have
- Reread that list and feel gratitude for the things you already have
When we choose a goal from a place of abundance, it gives us a different energy than wanting from a place of lack. It’s important to want more and not settle for less, but we also have to acknowledge everything we’ve already achieved so that we can be in a better space to want more.
During the goal:
Exercise – Start with the end in mind
Once you know what goal you’d like to achieve, I suggest you do the following:
- Describe your goal as if it has already happened. Write down “The most amazing thing happened today……” and describe the achievement of the goal as your future self.
- Now ask that future self to tell you what they thought, how they felt and what action steps they took to achieve that goal.
- Ask that future self who they needed to become in order to achieve that goal
The key in achieving any goal that we previously haven’t achieved is learning to be different than who we’ve been. By imagining what we would be thinking, how we would be feeling and what action we would be taking if we had achieved the goal, we can see what we need to do differently in this moment.
After the goal:
Exercise – Managing your mind
You most likely set a time frame to achieve your goal and now the time is up. You have a result. I suggest you do the following:
- Write down your thoughts about your result.
- How do you feel when you think those thoughts?
- Are those thoughts helpful? Do they serve you?
- What did you learn from the experience?
- How have you grown since you set the goal?
Setting a goal, big or small, allows you to show up differently. You can use a goal as a way to stretch yourself by directing your thoughts, feelings and actions in order to move you in the right direction. Or you can let fear run the show and play small. It’s up to you but I would love to see you set a goal and show yourself how different it can be when you apply what I teach and you learn how to manage your mind.
- We shy away from setting goals because of what we tell ourselves about past failures
- There is no failure when you set a goal – you are either achieving it or learning from it
- Setting a goal and managing your mind before, during and after is how you evolve and grow
- Choosing a goal from a place of abundance brings a different energy than from a place of lack
- By starting with the end in mind you get to imagine what you would need to think, feel and act in order to achieve the goal
- You get to decide what your results mean by managing your mind