Published on SharpHeels: http://sharpheels.com/2017/01/setting-strong-goals/
As we move into the New Year, we often write goals and resolutions hoping to make changes, and about two months into the New Year, they may be thrown to the wayside. Many articles about comprehensive goal setting miss a key aspect of why it is so difficult to accomplish goals — change is hard! Certain things are not discussed when it comes to goal planning. Here are a few key considerations in setting appropriate goals for the new year.
- Are the sacrifices and discomfort in achieving your goals worth it? Many of my clients want a new job, yet when it comes to getting one, they do not want to experience the discomfort that comes with the process — from the introspection that is required in evaluating yourself and your career options to the rejection experienced in being turned down after an interview. Part of the career change process is experiencing pain and discomfort and persevering through it. It means sacrificing free time and other activities to achieve the long-term outcome. The process is much like losing weight — you have to actually sit with the cravings and push through the workouts in order to drop the pounds.
- What if the grass is not greener? We often think that if we achieve a career goal, we will hit a pinnacle of happiness, money, and work-life balance. Of course, this is not true. How many times have you achieved a goal only to be happy for a short period before reality sinks in again. I often hear job seekers say, “What if I get a new career and I don’t like it?” or “What if I get my dream career, and I don’t have work-life balance?” A change in careers may not mean a change in our emotional state. Even if we get what we want, we may have to continue to do the internal work to change to a more positive emotional state. Going back to the analogy of losing weight, often women who lose significant weight do not like the attention it brings to them. Now they have to do the emotional work of the weight loss and the changes it brings.
- What if you achieve your goals? That means you must live with the outcomes. Remember,change is hard. If you actually achieve your goals, it means you have to experience and live with new outcomes — new thought and behavior patterns, emotions, people, and much more. Sometimes these changes are embraced, but that does not mean they are not difficult or even overwhelming. Your life could look different, even for the better, but you still have to deal with that change. Once again to reference the weight-loss analogy, once someone loses weight, he or she has to maintain it, which takes a lot of effort as well.
Once we consider these points, how do we move past these emotional hurdles to achieve our goals?
- Learn to accept and embrace discomfort. I always suggest trying something small and moving up in your discomfort level. We are a pain-avoidant society, and we have created an entire economy to make us feel more comfortable and pain-free, so this process takes time. Try one thing at a time to push yourself out of your comfort zone. If networking feels uncomfortable, then start networking with someone you know and eventually move to someone you do not know. Use this opportunity to get to know and push yourself. You’ll be surprised how amazing the experience can be and how it builds your grit.
- Evaluate how your goals will fulfill your deepest desires. Look at what the outcomes will bring you and the deepest desires it will fulfill. This includes really detailing what outcomes you would like, why you want them at a deep level, how they will make you feel, and how they will change your life. For example, if you have a gift to offer to the world, and you cannot do it through your current career, making a career change will fulfill that deep desire. Your new career may not be perfect, but it will fulfill you on a deeper level. The book The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte can assist with this process. I also use journaling and honestly evaluating several areas — the reasons I want to set the goals, my fears and worries, as well as all the reasons I may not want to set and/or achieve the goals. Sometimes being brutally honest with myself on why I may or may not want something allows me to work through my hurdles.
- Shift your perspective about the concept of reaching a pinnacle. When we drop the dream or concept of reaching a pinnacle, whatever that means to you, we take a great weight off our shoulders. We also set ourselves up for more realistic expectations of our lives knowing that we will always evolve and that the journey is more important than the endpoint. Our goals become about fulfilling our deep desires opposed to thinking we are going to reach a peak. For this New Year, I suggest when creating your goals to evaluate them at a deeper level. If you waver about a goal, perhaps it is not the right time and maybe you should hold off. If you are ready, set the goal and prepare to be uncomfortable, to break old patterns, and to live with the outcomes of your change. Most importantly, shift your perspective from the concept of reaching a pinnacle to enjoying the journey. This allows for the process to become more gentle and self-loving.
Moving into the new year, may this be a year of personal growth, evolution, and learning!