Goals. They are as effective as we allow them to be.
When we briefly think about our goals, only to set them aside in some unknown compartment within our brains, we limit our potential of attaining them. On the flip side, when we take steps to formally declare a goal to the world, on a piece of paper and to ourselves, then we establish a formal contract with the universe, which as Paulo Coelho describes in his book The Alchemist, “conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
When it comes to goal setting, many people allow themselves to get overwhelmed by the details of how they will actually achieve something, prior to allowing themselves to craft an idea for what they really want. Now, don’t get me wrong, if we are to ultimately attain our goals, then we eventually have to think about strategies for attaining them. But when it comes to actual goal ideation, the key question isn’t actually “how do I get what I want,” but rather, “what do I really want?” In fact, if you involve the question of how too soon, then you are likely minimizing your ideas and potential before you’ve even given yourself a chance to think BIG. And, trust me, you deserve to think BIG.
Given the New Year is right around the corner, I figured it’s a great time for us to start crafting goals for the year ahead. Here are a few quick tips for making the goal planning process fun and inspirational:
STEP I / Evaluate Your Values:
Begin by developing a list of words that describe what’s most important to you. Give yourself a good five to ten minutes of focused time to craft a healthy list. This list will represent your current list of values. Once you’re done, take another few minutes to focus on the top ten words that are most representative of what’s most valuable to you right now. Make sure that everything you circled is a true desire, versus an obligation. If you catch yourself circling an obligation, then cross it out and circle something else that truly excites you. Remember, this is YOUR goals list, so it’s 100% okay to stay focused on what YOU want, versus what you may think others want for you. Have fun with it!
STEP II / Value Your Values:
Next, rate your top ten words in terms of priority – make number 1 your highest priority and 10 your lowest priority. Make a clean list of your top ten values in order of priority, and leave a few spaces between each of them, so you can begin to articulate your goals in the next step.
STEP III / Visualize, Define and Claim:
Now, spend some time with each value and close your eyes to visualize what each word really means to you. Think about how each word might actually look in the future, when your life fully embodies it. For instance, a value of “success” might actually spawn visions of owning a family vacation home, or accepting a promotion at work. A value of family might look like enjoying an activity together with your spouse and children, like hiking or skiing. It might also look as simple as eating together at a dinner table. Take note of whatever visions arise when you explore your own definition of each value, and as you do, craft an active statement to encapsulate each vision that is specific and begins with a power verb, such as “own a family vacation home on a lake,” or “achieve a promotion as Vice President at work,” or “enjoy frequent meals at the table with my family.” Again, this is NOT the time to think about the details of how you might attain these things! Let your mind think BIG without minimizing your ideas with seeds of doubt. Remember, if you can think it, then you can have it. This is a basic Universal Truth.
Step IV / Breath, Believe and Achieve:
Now is the time to give your goals plenty of breathing room. Let them exist on paper for a little while, as you claim them to yourself and to the world. As you review each one of them, allow them to ignite a sense of excitement and inspiration inside of you. As you review each goal, imagine them coming to life and think about how you may feel or even celebrate when they become a reality. Make every effort to believe in everything you see as an achievement that already exists. That’s right, make no separation between now and the future and re-write each goal in past tense, as if you’ve already accomplished each one of them. Using the previous examples, the first one would become “achieved a promotion as Vice President” and the second one would become, “enjoying frequent meals at the table with my family.” Allow your mind to achieve each goal before the universe actually catches up with you : )!
Step V / Recognize The Possibilities and Opportunities:
Once we’ve infused as much emphasis as possible into the ideas themselves, then we can start talking strategies. Only when our goals have been crafted from a place of limitless potential, can we begin to think about all the possible ways of achieving them. At this point in the process, keep your mind as focused as possible on what CAN get done, versus what CANNOT get done. There’s a great analogy that I love which is to stay focused on the blue skies or the openings between the clouds. In other words, whatever we focus on expands, so if we are only honing-in on life’s obstacles, then those obstacles become hard to avoid. But if we can direct our attention to the openings – the mere opportunities that we may have never noticed before, then suddenly, real possibilities take form where we can redirect our attention and aim. For each goal, craft a handful of strategies that answer the question of “how can I achieve this goal?” Circle the top two or three strategies for each goal that are most reasonable for you to achieve within an attainable timeframe.
Step VI / Create a Field of Energy:
As stated before, whatever we focus on expands because our energy flows wherever our attention goes. In order for our goals to expand into targets too large for us to miss, we must direct as much attention as possible their way, so their energy expands into a known presence within our lives. How do we do this? We simply review our goals as often as possible. I recommend reviewing your list every day when your mind is the clearest. This could be right before bed, first thing in the morning when you wake-up, or any other time when you are feeling relaxed. Find the time that’s best for you to generate a field of excited energy surrounding your goals, so you feel motivated and inspired to take steps, big or small, to move towards them.
Whatever you do, BE PATIENT and trust the process. Goals that are created from a space of limitless potential deserve your complete patience and full understanding for healthy growth and development. Treat your goals like you would treat your own children – remind yourself of their spirit and true essence despite good days and bad days, successes or failures. And, never forget to take note of and celebrate all of the little wins along the way. Most goals are attained by a multitude of small wins, versus one full swoop of achievement, so stick with your goals until you’ve raised them into your own reality. And remember, “it’s not what you are that holds you back, it’s what you think you’re not.” – Denis Waitley. So, stay focused on the blue sky of your capabilities, and watch as the clouds begin to diminish from your view.