Updated: Jan 13
Every new year brings an opportunity to start fresh – the proverbial reset button – where we salute the ups and downs from last year and collectively state that THIS year will be better.
It will be better because THIS year we promise:
- to lose weight and live healthily everyday
- to finally get organised and remove clutter
- to quit smoking and drinking
- to stop wasting money on things we don’t need
- or simply to be happy and practice gratitude
WHY WE SET GOALS
Regardless of your goal, resolution, or intention for 2022, human nature remains the same. As human beings, part of our biological programming is the desire for safety and security. These two things will ensure our survival.
We want to feel safe and in control of our lives and well-being.
Therefore, one way of feeling more in control of your life means setting goals.
We set goals and aspire to something that will make life better - We can’t resist the desire to improve our lives, whether it is something big such as expanding a property portfolio or something small such as cleaning up a messy garage. It is completely natural to want to keep up with the changes in life, feel productive, and live in a meaningful way.
However, this desire to constantly improve can quickly turn into a long shopping list of needs, wants, and wishes for most people.
And what usually happens is we start the year sprinting towards all the things we want to achieve, and eventually, something as unpredictable as the covid-19 pandemic happens. A setback, a trauma, or life throws that well-known curveball into the mix that derails our plan of action.
To make matters worse, achieving goals requires responsibility, and responsibility means you must change bad habits and behaviours with more constructive ones.
Simply put, It means you must change – and not only change one thing - but change all the other little things that lead you to do this one tiny thing like procrastinate.
"I'll start again tomorrow or Monday."
"This is more important, I need to fix it today."
I want to use this article to help you become one of the 8% who reaches their goals and are motivated with meaning and purpose to achieve them.
THE FIRST STEP TO SETTING MEANINGFUL GOALS
I often use the analogy of a GPS with my clients on goal setting. Whether setting a goal for this year, five years from now, or retirement. The formula to setting and achieving goals remains the same.
So, think about it this way, whenever you want to travel to a new or unknown location, you usually pick up your smartphone and use Google Maps. Firstly, you start by searching for the destination. Secondly, you enter your starting point, and finally, Google Maps provides you with an option to choose your route.
Goal setting works in precisely the same way.
Start with imagining what you want to be doing at 50, 60, or 70 years of age
And don't say: "I want to retire" - we all do - and retiring is inevitable.
However, I invite you to be completely honest with yourself.
How do you want to feel when you retire?
Depressed and dependent or content and at peace with life?
Unfortunately, whether you like it or not, retirement is the final destination of life for all of us. We cannot outlive our biology, and our physical and mental health starts deteriorating at some point.
"It's paradoxical that the idea of living a long life appeals to everyone,
but the idea of getting old doesn't appeal to anyone"
– Andy Rooney
I am more inclined to think that to make a success of being old, you must start now!
Once you know what you want to feel like during old age, you can start reversing the process and set goals. Perhaps you want to feel successful, healthy, independent, financially free, or maybe you want to work on your golf game and feel accomplished.
The beginning and creation of any goal is looking as far ahead as possible and then coming back to the present moment by planning your route there.
The problem is, if you don't have this destination in mind, most of what you will do in life is drive around in circles aimlessly.
Clarity is a powerful force!
Once you have a glimpse of the future you want for yourself, it will help you set goals and make better decisions along the way.
Without clarity you might as well be standing at the harbour waiting for your plane to arrive.
So be brave and honest about how you want to feel when you can't work anymore. I am aware that this question is triggering in many ways. Realizing that the path you are on is not leading you to a better future is painful. But this is exactly why you need to think about this. If you want a better life, you'll have to change some things around.
THE SECOND STEP IN SETTING MEANINGFUL GOAL
I will use a client as an example of how to discover a starting point.
Let's call her Emma.
Emma is anxious, burnt out, disorganized, and almost always arrives at a coaching session with the weight of the world on her shoulders.
For people like Emma, this is not unusual. When you are working for a commission/target every month starts at zero, and every month the same panic about achieving the target arrives right on schedule. Clearly, Emma desires change.
I begin by asking Emma the GPS question:
“I'm wondering what you want to feel like when you retire. Have you given this any thought before?"
Initially, she was reluctant to answer, but after some exploration, she said:
"I want to feel peaceful in my old age."
Now, this is important because what you want to feel when you reach old age – in my opinion – is the most powerful motivation you can find.
In coaching, we use a drilling down technique, which means we keep asking more or less the same question until we get to a point where an actionable step is possible. And an actionable step means it is something you can start doing immediately.
So, this is roughly how it sounds:
Coach: "What do you think you need to do to feel peaceful at retirement?"
Emma: "I need to get organized, make a success, wake up earlier, and complete the things I said I would do. I need to fix my sleeping and eating patterns. I feel horrible most of the day. But there is just so much going on and I struggle to get to everything. I end off every day feeling defeated or frustrated."
Coach: "What do you think will help you end of every day feeling better?
Emma: "Planning and completing my to-do list."
Coach: "What do you need to do to make sure you complete it?"
Emma: "I need to choose what is important and prioritise."
With a few simple questions, Emma found her north star for the year ahead – Prioritise! She can start every day asking herself: "what are my top 3 priorities for today?" - Not 50, just 3!
Most of the time, the answer to our GPS question is what we need most right now. Certainly, if Emma was to do this exercise again in a few years her solution (or answer) will be different. But how she wants to feel at retirement, will remain the same.
Start with a feeling and work your way down to the bare minimum of what you can do to feel that feeling. The beginning of setting a meaningful and sustainable goal starts with a feeling!
Every day is going to provide you with a small, but significant opportunity to make a decision
The decision to move closer or further away from the life you are focused on living and creating for yourself.
The simple truth is that big and life-altering decisions don't come around often,
but the micro and daily decisions are abundant.
If you can make one micro decision daily that will move you closer to your goals,
can you imagine what 365 "small decisions" combined will look like?
I give you this exercise with caution. Why?
Because with great power comes great responsibility.
Once you have identified and decided what you need to do for a better future, you have created an agreement with yourself – similar to a promise.
And we all know how it feels when someone breaks a promise.
If you break this agreement with yourself, you are breaking down your confidence, self-esteem, and personal value. What are you are saying to yourself subconsciously is what you want is not that important.
Imagining saying this to someone you love "want you want is not important" - it will be soul destroying for them. And if you break this agreement with yourself every day, there won't be much belief left in your ability to make change in any significant way.
Because I promise you, eventually you will lose hope in yourself and your ability.
Setting goals and not achieving them does more harm than good.
Instead, keep it simple and make damn sure you can achieve it.
I aim to continue writing a few articles that will elaborate on the formulas to setting goals. Unfortunately, it is not a quick fix and requires deeper thought and discussion.
Keep an eye out for my next article where we will explore why agreements with yourself (i.e. goals) are the only way to growth and personal development.
If you a ready and willing to create change in your life but don’t know exactly where to start - I am here to help!
My mission is simple – To empower you