Goals


Goals and sub-goals are fantastic things. They list out exactly what we wish to accomplish, mapping the road in front of us clearly, and give us a concise directive…”Lose five pounds in the next two months” or “Enroll in college and start working towards my [bachelors, masters, etc].”

That’s a good thing, right?

Absolutely!

Except…see you knew there was a catch, right?…what if your goals are not aligned with what YOU want? What if your goals were made while thinking about:

  • What others expect from you
  • What your ‘responsibilities’ are to your family, friends, or society
  • What you ‘should be doing’

Why would anyone make decisions based on what others think they should do? Well, unless you have grown up in a pack of wolves, unless you have that very rare sense of self that knows exactly what you want and goes straight after it and lets nothing (and no one) stand in your way, then it isn’t too surprising.

We make decisions every day based on others. We fit into society and move within its boundaries and expectations. We are polite, we say thank you and please. We take turns at stop signs and avoid conflict with our co-workers.

Are we always this way? No! There are times when everyone’s anti-social side takes hold. But the majority of the time a majority of us are working within society’s expectations and conforming to the spoken (and unspoken) rules of conduct.

It is easy to lose yourself in that world. But how much unhappiness stems from compromise and capitulation? As in all parts of our lives, we must find balance.

List out three of your goals.

Right now…I’ll wait.

Okay, got them?

Look at your list and ask yourself, “Why that goal?” List your reasons beside it.

Now look at the reasons and underline them if they are other-based and circle them if they are you-based.

If a goal is other-based it has a far less chance of a) making you happy if it is accomplished and b) being accomplished at all.

If it is you-based, you know that this is a goal that you care about. Finding goals that are aligned with our own inner happiness are far more important than trying to make and achieve goals based on what we think our parents, family or society thinks of us. If we are happy deep inside, if we are accomplishing goals based on our needs and our interests, then it will allow us to grow as individuals. Eventually that growth can lead to us giving back (or not) to our community and those that we love on a scale that is tremendously magnified by our new inner joy.

Creating and striving for goals that benefit us as individuals is not selfish, it is the highest form of benefit we can give to ourselves and it will spread from us to others.

Take some time to sit back and ask yourself, “What is it that I want from my life?” You don’t have to have all the answers. It might be as simple of an answer as, “I want to be happy” or “I want a new career”.

Take it slow. Write down you-based goals that align with your needs and wants and leave the other-based goals at the door for now. Begin to work on them and don’t be afraid to revise them as you go along. Nothing is set in stone, not us and not our goals. Eventually, as you grow happier and more content inside, as you find the peace you have been seeking, your actions will naturally begin to impact those around you in positive ways. In other words, the other-based goals may often occur naturally, without any compromise or sacrifice of your you-based needs.

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The New Year’s Resolution – it is a time-honored tradition after all. The question immediately occurred to me, “How did all this get started?” So I looked it up. Googled it if you will (though I rarely use Google). I found this answer:

It is believed that the Babylonians were the first to make New Year’s resolutions, and people all over the world have been breaking them ever since. The early Christians believed the first day of the new year should be spent reflecting on past mistakes and resolving to improve oneself in the new year.

Wow, this whole New Year’s Resolution thing has been around a long time!

Several words stand out and catch my interest – reflection, resolution, and improvement. That’s what a great deal of my coaching sessions are about! Notice I left out the word mistake. I left it out because it has little or no place in the self-improvement paradigm. The minute most of us focus on what mistakes we made (or are currently making) all action or planning or change seems to come to a standstill. It becomes the elephant in the room, the all-consuming center of attention, and the good that we can do, the changes we wish to make seem insignificant next to the MISTAKE.

And why is it that it is always in caps? But it is.

When clients stop learning, introspecting, resolving and improving – chances are there is a mistake occupying the room. Their focus changes to one of shame, of self-flagellation, and their resolve quivers and begins to fold in on itself. As a coach, I scramble a bit. The house is on fire, folks, and all too often our focus turns to that dark corner where no good can come. I deeply believe, and try to convey in the best way possible, that mistakes are not the ultimate FUBAR with nothing to learn and everything to regret. Mistakes can and should be moments of clarity. They are the lessons each of us has to learn in our lives to become more than what we were.

So I will not be focusing on past MISTAKES this year. Instead I will be focusing on what I want to improve about myself. My resolutions are as follows:

  • I want to lose weight – one pound at a time
  • I want to be a better, more patient person and show love and support and commitment to all of my loved ones and especially to my daughters who deserve the absolute, level best that I can give to them.

What is your New Year’s resolution?

So last week I talked about Noah St. John’s book and the section on Afformations. I began putting my “I Wants” into the form of questions that assumed the outcome.

“I want to lose weight and feel better about my body” became “How is it that I have lost the extra weight and feel better about my body?”

Even now it sounds dorky.

But you know what isn’t dorky?

Getting on the scales and finding out that I’ve lost three pounds in one week – that’s not dorky at all!

I’ve done it by upping my exercise (15-25 minutes EVERY day on the treadmill and working with hand weights at the same time), logging what I eat on MyFoodDiary.com and staying within the proscribed limits, and just making smarter food choices in general.

On Monday I was speaking with my coach – most coaches have their own coaches since we recognize the value it brings to our own lives – and she noted my goal to lose 9 pounds by the end of March. She asked if I thought it was a reasonable goal and I snorted, “NO!” That was before I had checked my weight on the scales obviously. Now I look at the 9 pound goal and think, “Oh yeah, I can do that!”

So that’s my little win for the week. How about yours?

Don’t worry, I will be back soon with a new post on the “Six Phrases You Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Say” – actually they are already scheduled to appear each Friday.

But today I have some thoughts I want to share with you about a very interesting book and the ideas and thoughts it has given me as I work my way through it. The book is by Noah St. John, “The Secret Code of Success” and I’m rather impressed so far.

I just finished Chapter 4: Afformations® (no, that isn’t a typo) in which he takes you through several steps. I will use one of my own issues as an example.

I’m overweight. Technically speaking, I’m considered obese. I would settle for being just overweight or having 10-15 extra pounds – instead I have more like FIFTY extra pounds.

So a typical goal would to say “I want to lose weight and not be obese.”

A typical affirmation would be to write and post and read out loud each day, “I will weigh fifty pounds less and fit into a size 10 again!” What Noah suggests is that our brains read those words and think, “Yeah, right, I’m a total loser (and not in the good way)!”

He suggests that affirmations don’t work whereas Afformations® do. A typical example of an Afformations® in this case would be, “How is it that I have lost fifty pounds and am now much healthier?” He points out that it is the question we focus on, not a statement of fact. That we as humans seek to find answers to the questions, most often questions we ask ourselves. By changing our questions, we change our lives.

“Why can’t I lose this weight?” or “Why do I commit to exercising and then never do it?” are both questions, but they are negative and start us down the negative path. By instead asking, “Why is it that I have lost fifty pounds?” we have changed the question to a  positive one and our minds begin to react by coming up with answers we already know will work to solve the problem.

If I haven’t explained this well enough, read the book, it’s well worth it.

As for me, I’ve already begun the process. I sat down and made a list of all the things I want. One of them was that I wanted to lose weight and feel more comfortable in my body. I also added that I would like to be out of pain (my back and neck often hurt) and be more flexible. I then re-wrote the goals into the form of Afformations®.

Why is that I am so healthy and a healthy weight? Why is it that I longer suffer back pain and am more flexible?

Last night before I went to bed I set out my workout clothes and shoes. I put them where I could easily find them (I wake up early and don’t like to turn on lights and disturb my husband’s sleep) and despite my reluctance, got up and dressed and went down to the basement. I didn’t ask a lot of my body…just 15 minutes at 2.5mph. I had a couple of hand weights and I remembered to stretch before and afterward. In some aspects that was the most difficult part, I had no idea just how inflexible I had become! Yes, I counted every minute and every second and wished that I had a tv show to watch. I’ll probably listen to the radio on my iPod next time to help pass the time. I’m also going back to MyFoodDiary.com and logging my weight and what I eat.

We’ll see how it goes. My first objective is to establish a routine – fifteen minutes a day, every day. After that is accomplished and the habit is formed I’ll expand (walk faster, walk longer). I hope to also check in and write about my progress as I go.

Check out his book, write your own Afformations® today and keep at it. Asking yourself those positive questions will change your attitude from one of despair and frustration with yourself to one of excitement and goals!