How to Create Truly Motivating Goals
"The indispensable first step to getting things you want out of life is this: decide what you want." - Ben Stein
Early in our lives, our goals are pretty well set for us—we learn to walk, talk, and tie our shoes. We go to school, graduate, perhaps get a job, go to college or other training and develop some good relationships. In our early careers there is often a “career path” laid out for us. From these early experiences we learn to set goals from outside-in.
At some point, usually after achieving all “checklist goals” (you know…degree?-check, job?-check, nice car?-check, house?-check, promotion?-check, relationship/ family?-check…)—we crave something more. We may find ourselves "goal-less" for first time in our lives. This sense of being directionless can be frustrating and confusing. After all, we had expected that all hard work and accomplishment would bring us to a happy and fulfilled life. Quite naturally we’re a bit startled when we find ourselves thinking “there has to be something more out there”.
Take heart. This isn’t a symbol of failure at all. It’s a sign of success! You have hit a critical point in your life …you have matured and grown enough that you are ready to start creating goals from inside-out. Goals with meaning.
The feeling of wanting more is really your inner voice and wisdom wanting to express itself. Rather than looking “out there” for what’s next, it’s time to look inside. The “right goals” will find you once you honestly examine who you are, and clearly state where (and who) you want to be. Here’s how it works:
TAP INTO YOUR VALUES
You have enough life experience under your belt to know your values. Values are those things that draw you in—what you are naturally drawn to and are eager to experience. Those things that, when you experience them, you feel most like yourself. Some questions that may help you zero in on your core values include: What do you want to be known for? What do you stand for? What things excite or exhilarate you? What brings you joy?
Don’t expect that you are always living up to your values, but getting to heart of them is a big step forward. It’s also possible that your values have gotten clouded over by other things—needs, shoulds (those external things we ‘should’ do even if it’s not what we really want to do), wants, our role expectations (parent, employee, spouse, etc…) and obligations. To separate those things from your values, check in with yourself and see if you are really excited by it—even a little scared. If so, it is probably a value. If you did it and loved it when you were young, it may be a value. If you feel you need it to be happy or to achieve something else, it’s NOT a value but a need. Keep looking for value. (Note: if you are struggling with this exercise, visit my website at www.succeedcoaching.com/tips.html for a Values Clarification exercise.)
CRAFT A COMPELLING VISION
Once you’ve tapped into your core values, you are ready to create a vision for yourself. If this were a perfect world and your life were going perfectly, what would that look like? What would it feel like? What are you doing? What is your source of enjoyment? What kinds of people are in your life? What kinds of experiences are you having? Don’t let reality slip in just yet…allow yourself to dream, to connect with your hopes.