I’ve been thinking a lot about goals lately. Specifically why I never seem to achieve them. Short of not actually writing them down and creating a solid plan, I have no idea why I don’t actually accomplish anything I want. (Yeah, I know. That’s a big problem.)
Why do I never follow through? Why do my dreams and goals stay stuck in my head? And then why do I beat myself up for not following through?
I love to read personal development books. I find them inspiring. Especially when the author shares their own personal stories. I’m always in awe at their back stories and how they were able to break through and completely change their lives.
And that’s where I usually hit my first snag.
You see, I had a great childhood. No divorce. No hardships. No extreme dysfunction. We were middle class. Well, what it meant in the 70’s anyway. It was a lot less extravagant time so it was easier to keep up with the Joneses.
It should be effortless for me I tell myself, to accomplish great things and change my life. I’m already starting from a place up here, not way down here like all of these other people that had so much to overcome.
And yet, the step up doesn’t help. It actually makes me complacent. A follower. Someone who just goes with the flow of life.
School. Job. Marriage. Kids.
A pretty straight line if you ask me.
Divorce. Second marriage. Step-kids. Bipolar husband. Financial strain.
A little more interesting but still, I made it through.
Made it through.
Not exactly a great epitaph.
Is that what I want?
No. But what do I actually want?
And therein lies my problem.
I don’t know.
And if I don’t know, how can I possibly set goals.
I don’t think I’m alone in this purgatory state. I think many midlife women find themselves trying to decipher what they really want their lives to look like.
And it’s hard. Because for decades, it didn’t matter what we wanted. If you have kids, grandchildren or elderly parents you are taking care of, your needs or wants are made irrelevant. And so when there actually comes a time to breathe and look inward, what we want is hard to define.
Social media doesn’t make it any easier either. Images of people doing extraordinary things. Perfect in every way.
I wish I could do that. Be like that. Accomplish that.
But do I? Do I really?
More than likely not. It’s just that these perfect Instagram people make me think I do.
I got to thinking. Am I messing with my brain? Do I send it mixed messages and thus make it impossible to decipher between what I say I want and what I truly want?
Obviously setting goals for something I don’t really want will never work. How can it? I’m not committed to it. In my head anyway.
Words and thoughts are powerful. But here’s the awesome thing—-we can control that. It’s hard but we can.
Be conscious of the mixed messages you send your brain.
Be careful when you say, I want to travel more, have that life, start a business, write a book. Because if you haven’t explored that want and your reasons why, you are probably stifling your true, deepest desires. Maybe you do want one of those things listed above, or some variation of them. Or maybe, you just want the perceived Instagram life those things project to others.
So what do you want?
That’s where goal setting starts. You can’t make a plan without a want.
And if you haven’t a clue, it’s going to take some time and thought to figure it out. It’s probably going to take some trial and error too.
Begin with letting yourself dream. Without limitations. Without restrictions. Without criticism from your inner voice. Without thinking about the how…for now.
- What’s your perfect day?
- What’s your view?
- What’s the first thing you do?
- What do you eat?
- What do you see?
- Who are you with or are you alone?
- What would you do with the rest of the day?
Use a journal and record your answers as you work through them. Keep asking yourself those questions till your answers are clear. Crystal clear.
And then don’t let other people’s lives, thoughts or feelings penetrate or deflate that dream. Including yourself.
Surround yourself with images, and affirmations that re-enforce your dream. You can do that with the wallpaper on your phone, a vision board or a note to yourself in your wallet.
And don’t worry about the how, yet.
Get comfortable with your wants. Own them. Believe them. Nurture them by visiting with them often.
Setting goals and especially taking action to make them happen is hard work. But it’s so much easier when you get clear about what you want. That is the first step. You can not skip it or let someone else do it for you.
Are you crystal clear about what you want?