New Year’s Resolutions, Goals and Other Banana Peels

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New Year’s resolutions are simply the January trendy dress to goals. Whether it is a good resolution or a goal it may either fall into oblivion or we may fail to follow through. I would like to take a moment to look at some hurdles that may stand in our way to achieving that which we aim at.

New beginnings:
There is nothing wrong in following trends providing that they truly resonate with you. A number of people conceive January as the starting point of the year. It is a chance to take inventory of the past year, catch up with what was unachieved, change or confirm the direction we want to take in life.
It is a great time to affirm our intentions and share them with those who surround us. Creating some accountability increases our chances of success. January is also the opportunity to encourage one another in take more risks and design new plans. There is a value of collective effort and understanding that occurs at this time of the year. Let us take advantage of that.
Nonetheless, in case we miss that train, there are other times in the year where we can just as powerfully form our goals. As a matter of fact, each and every minute is a suitable time to make a new start, each minute has the potential to a new beginning and there really is no perfect time to set a new goal or refine an existing one.
After all, it is the present moment that truly carries the potency of success. The decisions and actions we take at each moment are the components that contribute to the success or failure of our endeavors.
Keeping this in mind and checking on a regular basis where we stand is what supports us in staying on track with achieving our goals. “Though you can’t go back and make a brand new start, my friend, you can start from now and make a brand new end.” (Anonymous) Granting these goals also the possibility of being malleable in reframing them as needed is indispensable to succeed.

Malleability:
Goals are stepping-stones to the accomplishment of a vision. The vision is the bigger picture and the goal is a stroke of the brush in the picture. It is a gear in the machine. Allowing a certain degree of malleability is necessary to success.
Being too rigid and sticking to a goal simply for the sake of achieving the goal may be detrimental to the greater purpose we care to realize. This is one of the pitfalls of being goal-oriented. When the goal becomes the purpose in itself regardless of its impact it may lead to delays, dissatisfaction or even counter-productivity. It may down right suck out the joy of a project and generate unnecessary stress.
Plus, there is something fundamentally unfulfilling in living from the achievement of a goal to the next. It contributes to the illusion that achieving the goal is key to happiness. We all heard “it’s the journey not the destination”.
Happiness is in the process and in enjoying experimenting, observing and adjusting, as needed, the parameters of the goal. Be capable of fluidity. Attributing some degree of malleability to our goals allows us to be process-oriented instead of curbing ourselves into a goal-oriented approach to life that can turn out to be stiffing and discouraging.

Realization:
Goals are stepping-stones to the realization of a larger project, a vision and or life purpose. And how do you eat an elephant? You eat an elephant one bite at a time. Goals are bites. As we edify our lives we need to break down our efforts into areas, areas into projects, projects into goals.
Goals can be like the stars in representation of constellations, they are independent from one another but once they are linked to each other they create a picture. When they are inscribed in a bigger picture they carry more power and recalling the big picture may provide a little extra motivation in darker times and keep the momentum going.

The word goal is used and abused. At a time where numerous people make resolutions and set goals they fail to make a true assessment of their passions. Also, they confuse this word and use it interchangeably with intention, purpose, design and such. They end up setting goals and making resolutions based on what they perceive to be appropriate and what they should do but it is not in touch with what they truly want. Then, they lose motivation quickly, if the motivation was there at all to begin with, and burden themselves with guilt and shame for not reaching the goal they have set or forgetting about their resolution.
A goal is just a tool that can be used efficiently or not. It is truly the go-to tool. More effort is made in designing the goal (who has not heard of SMART goals yet?) rather than contextualizing it and align it with what we want. For this tool participates in our development in the sense that we need to grow to reach them. As John Maxwell puts it in The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth: “If you focus on goals, you may hit goals … If you focus on growth, you will grow and always hit your goals.” He emphasizes the necessity of developing a plan for personal growth rather than simply expecting life to deliver lessons at random. In other words it is being intentional. How about designing a few goals dedicated to your personal growth to support your achievement goals?

Visions

Visions
What is 2015 going to be about for you?

Visions

A new year is beginning with its load of good resolutions. Most of which will be abandoned before the end of the month. To avoid that it is time to affirm one’s vision. It is only natural to wish for improvement from one year to the next and we all are motivated at first to loose this extra weight or quit our nasty habits. The worst part is that we give ourselves such a hard time when we fail to keep to our promises. So, not only did we not achieve our goals, we also end up more miserable then when we started.

There are two main reasons why these good resolutions do not stick. Firstly, we may not be as committed to the end result as much as we would like to. Secondly, we may fail to incorporate our goals into the bigger picture. In both cases the risk of failure is higher due to a lack of clarity on one’s vision or to a lack of authentic attachment to one’s vision.

To begin with, let me clarify what I mean by vision. A vision is a mental picture of how we see our future life. It is composed of elements that we have at heart to be and accomplish. A vision is a translation of our core values and deepest desires. It is the projection of our inner life to the outside world. It is the expression of our inner voice.

The more accurate and complete a vision is and the more likely we are to reach our goals. Jerrold Mundis points out that it is obvious that it is more difficult to get what we want if we are not clear about what it is in the first place. Let us say that I am starting to look for a new car. The more precise my description is the better chances I have to find my ideal car. It may seem counter intuitive at first. One would think that by keeping an open mind the chances of being happy are bigger. I say that if I have a clear idea of what I want I do not waste my time on checking out less satisfactory options. I save my energy by being specific and selective to begin with.

The place to start is by defining what it is that we want. It happens to be the most difficult phase for a number of us. Once again, we may let our desires be contaminated by our friends’ opinions or society’s standards. Being crystal clear and honest with ourselves is not that easy. We all are, to some degree, influenced by our surroundings. All this to say that creating an authentic vision of our life can be a little more challenging that what one may expect and a lot of times we fail to achieve our goals simply because our heart is just not really into it. We may unintentionally embrace others expectations for us rather than give ourselves permission to follow our own desires.

There are more than one way to build ones vision. Among the numerous techniques and methods, something as simple as talking and sharing our thoughts with someone else may be most effective. Having to articulate our thoughts and to hear oneself put it in words begins to give these mental constructions some validation and vividness. Journaling also helps to clarify our priorities and sort out what feels important from the more trivial. Vision boards provide us with a recurring reminder of our plans and desires. It is not a mere artistic project to pursue a rainy Sunday afternoon. By compiling pictures and phrases that really speak to us, inspire us and bring us joy we create new pathways in our brains and reinforce our commitments. We become more prone to take action when we have this constant reminder of what we want to achieve.

It is key to maintain a certain level of clarity on what we want. It may evolve and change with time but we need to set our inner compass in a certain direction and set a process into motion. Sadly, we all know how easy it is to let ourselves get swamped in our daily routines and to just “get by”. That is why holding up our vision for ourselves is critical in order reach the next level in our lives. It conveys a sense of purpose and when chasing our goals becomes a game it lightens up our everyday life.

For this reason, the goal of loosing our extra pounds has more chances to be reached when it is strongly anchored into a broader vision of a healthy life that allows us to enjoy and enhance the quality of our existence. It helps to overcome cravings or to let go more easily of the little slips we may have. By inscribing it in the big picture of the person we want to be and the happiness and freedom we gain by achieving this or that objective then the obstacles may become less discouraging or the challenges less overwhelming. The vision, when it is strong and well aligned with our authentic self will carry us through any hardship and add texture to our daily life.

Enjoy the ride being process-oriented

The Journey

As I was reading “Journey into Power” by Baron Baptiste I came across a concept that blew my mind: “shifting from being goal-oriented to being process-oriented”. I could not say how many times I have heard over the last past years “it is not the destination but the journey that really matters”. I did understand the idea but it remained just that to me, an idea, a concept, something hypothetical.

In coaching, we provide our clients with a safe space to express themselves, brainstorm and put their ideas together. As we co-create this relationship we bridge the gap between where the clients are in the present and where they want to be. To do so we identify goals, assess what are the resources and obstacles at hand, build tools along the way, strategize and design actions. All this contributes in moving the individual forward. There is of course a great sense of victory in achieving one’s goal. It is also fundamental to acknowledge and celebrate the milestones. Sometimes, in the process of achieving the goal, we evolve and may become more ambitious or circumstances change and for whatever reason the goal needs to be adjusted or modified.

There is a distinction between having a goal and being goal-oriented. When we stay focused solely on the goal we may loose track of other aspects of our lives that may be meaningful to us and compromise “too much”. We then derive satisfaction only as we achieve this goal and may enter a “tunnel vision” mode. To me, that is what I call being “goal-oriented”. Having a goal on the other is like establishing a vanishing point that offers a direction to set the compass on. It allows a little more flexibility in the sense where as we reach the intermediate milestones we can assess if the goal is still desirable as it is or at all. Like I said earlier, we are in constant evolution and it is only natural that our goals evolve with us.

I believe that in addition to supporting my clients in developing and reaching their goals it is essential for them to enjoy the process. It is a process! This process may include rediscovering oneself, making changes, gaining awareness about what they tolerate, what are their needs and their values, redefine their boundaries and raise their standards, learn to have fun and relax, step out of their comfort zone or build their self-confidence. No matter what the process implies it has to be pleasurable on some level and feel good.

Any of the actions listed above require effort and dedication and rather than coming from a place of brutal self imposed will it all flows so much better when it comes from a place of authentic growth that is to say in alignment with the true-self and a sense of purpose. It is easier to follow through with an authentic commitment of being healthy finding an physical activity we enjoy rather than forcing ourselves to go run at 5am when you hate to run and getting up early just because you read somewhere that it is the thing to do. In one case you will find enjoyment, stick to it and be inspired to implement other healthy habits to complement and support your choice and in the other case you will torture yourself until you drop it all and beat yourself up for not keeping your commitment of running 3 times a week at 5am in the slush when it is still dark and cold. I am caricaturing but you get the idea.

In other words, being process-oriented is to implement habits, tools and resources that contribute in generating joy, energy and enthusiasm on a daily basis for us to attain our goals in the best possible manner. This way we get to truly relish every minute of our lives instead of the quick fleeting moment where we have reached “the” goal that we had set especially if it is no longer what we truly desire or that the price for it was too high to pay. A goal, destination, finishing line needs to be offering an orientation and it is all the more pleasant to remain free to wander on the way there and enjoy the ride for the only true final destination in this life is death and one of the things life is about is our chance to grow and contribute. Most importantly, as we shift from a goal-oriented life to a process-oriented one we shift from a life of “doing” to a life of “being”.