Goal Setting and Getting
When you’re deeply involved in the life coaching industry, the subject of goal setting is something you’re constantly dealing with in one form or another.
I get many messages from potential clients who indicate real enthusiasm about training to become a life coach but, for one or other perfectly valid reason, the time is not right for them. Ordinarily, I advise them not to get stressed about it but rather to make it a goal that they can work towards in their own time.
It made me stop and think the other day when the following reply arrived in response to my well-intended advice:
“Bill, that’s all very well but my Goal this year is simply to learn how to set and achieve a Goal”
It suddenly struck me that for many, many people the concept of setting a goal in a way that they might actually have a good chance of achieving it, is as elusive as a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.
Testament to this, is the fact that so many of us routinely set resolutions at the beginning of each New Year, only to be confronted with the inevitability of our impending failure to achieve them by the time Easter comes around!
So, with the above in mind, I thought I should use this week’s newsletter to offer a few of my favourite tips about setting goals that you really can achieve.
Believe me, master this simple art, and your life will be turned on its head (in a very positive sense of course!)
Dream in technicolour
By this I mean get detailed!
It simply won’t work if you set vague goals – because if there’s no substance to your goals, there’s no way your subconscious mind can get to work on them while your conscious mind is busy dealing with the demands of day-to-day life. It simply doesn’t have enough to go on.
Take an example of the typical kind of ‘goal’ that most people set for themselves:
“I want to make more money.”
The truth is that having this kind of ‘goal’ - if you can call it that - will probably do your cause more harm than good.
Well, what does your mind tend to dwell on when you think “I want to make more money”?
In all probability, the dominant theme will be your current situation and the insufficiency of money that you are experiencing.
And, if you have studied the Law of Attraction you’ll know that you get what you think about – which, in this case, is a shortage of money!
A great goal is one that has some colour or substance to it. It needs to be as specific as possible. It needs to be written (yes, written!) in a way that makes it clear that you will know when you’ve achieved it. It needs to have a time frame attached to it and, perhaps the most obvious attribute, but often the missing ingredient, is that it needs to inspire you; it needs to connect with you emotionally.
Ok, now try the following version of the money goal for size. (Note how I’ve written it in the present tense as if it’s already happened):
“It’s the 20th December 2008. As Christmas approaches and I sit with my family enjoying a gorgeous celebratory meal, I feel ecstatic. For the first time in many years I have an abundance of money and am truly looking forward to the season of goodwill. My decision, six months ago, to start my own business, has paid handsome dividends and I now enjoy a sustainable monthly income of three times what I did then. Prospects for the future look really bright!”
See the difference?
When you read and start thinking about the goal in this form, you can truly feel the joy, excitement and financial abundance that it describes. Once you start emitting these positive vibrations, you’re well on your way to making it happen.
If you practise, it won't be long and you’ll soon find yourself writing and describing goals in such a way that you can virtually ‘see, hear, smell and taste' them!
Eat the Elephant one bite at a time
There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big, elephant-like dreams! On the contrary, you should never underestimate what you are capable of.
But the problem arises once you get over the dizzy feeling of imagining yourself achieving this big, hairy goal and get to grips with what needs to be done to manifest it.
This is why it’s vital to break down your goal into small, manageable action steps and focus on achieving those steps, one at a time, while keeping the vision of the end goal firmly in your mind.
I know of many people who take pride in announcing their latest ‘think-big’ schemes to the world, only to crash and burn a few weeks into the challenge. Then it’s on to the next big thing…
These people live to impress others with the scale of their ideas and their apparent bravado. But the truth is they have never learnt how to turn grandiose dreams into reality. Their ‘big picture’ approach to life, admirable though it may seem, renders them incapable of focusing on the small steps needed to make progress.
A word of caution here.
When you’re starting out on a goal, contemplating even the very first action step may seem rather daunting. This is because the mind has not yet learnt to associate taking action with achievement. Instead, the natural association is with ‘pain’ (e.g. failure, embarrassment, discomfort, etc.). This annoying and seemingly counterproductive tendency is, in effect, a form of ego protection mechanism.
The secret to bypassing your ego defense mechanism is to start small, really small if needs be. Make the first action step something easy, like writing down all the good feelings that you associate with getting your goal, or making a phone call to your bank or researching the best new computer for your business or just seeing a trusted friend for coffee and a chat – whatever will get you started.
Once you start managing the small steps successfully, success with the bigger steps will come automatically. You will literally programme yourself to succeed. And, as you know, success breeds success!
Write your success story
Keep a journal of your successes – and only successes - along the way.
Most coaches will tell you to keep a daily journal. Personally, I prefer to do it on a weekly basis, purely because I feel it is less restricting on my time, but do whatever works for you – just make sure you do it!
You’ll be truly amazed when you look back through your records after a couple of months. All your successes, large and small, will come flooding back in your memory, making you swell with pride at all that you’ve accomplished.
If you don’t keep a journal, your mind – in true human fashion – will tend to recall all the times you slipped up, things you had forgotten, not done, avoided, and so on - thus unjustly relegating your successes to the lower ranks of importance.
The added benefit of a success journal is that it provides you with a neat reminder of the journey – something to reflect back on in the future or, perhaps, to share with your kids or grandkids one day.
Never take yourself or life too seriously. Remember that the whole point of your life is to experience – and give - joy and happiness.
My wife and I often talk about life in Durban, the way it was when we moved into our very first apartment shortly after we were married. We remember trying to live life to the full, not worrying too much about the fact that we had so little in the way of possessions. Generally, life back then was a lot of fun.
Our neighbours, another newly married young couple called Debbie and Steve, took life a lot more seriously. They adopted what seemed to some to be a very mature outlook, arguing that any fun should be delayed, at least until they had saved enough money for a deposit on their own home. They reasoned that by making sacrifices to build early material wealth, they would be able to have double the amount of fun later.
But it was not to be. After seven years together, their fun-deficient marriage had ended – together, ironically, with any hope of a head start in the material possession stakes!
So don’t forget. No matter how serious you are about setting and achieving goals, always remember why you’re doing it. Keep things in context and please, please – have fun!
A Fun, Fulfilling and Rewarding Career
And on that last note of having fun let me remind you that, in my opinion anyway, there are few careers that come close to providing as much fun, fulfillment and reward as does life coaching.
With life coaching you not only learn how to gain personal freedom, confidence and growth for yourself but you get to impart these valuable secrets to others, thus spreading joy and fulfillment as an integral part of your job.
If you have a passion for people – and for life in general – you’d probably make a great life coach. Why not sign up for the New Insights Life Coach Training Programme.
May marks the official anniversary of the establishment of New Insights in South Africa. So, until the end of May we’re running a very special offer for all our loyal Insights readers and other people with whom we have had the privilege to be connected in the past year.
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With warm regards as always
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