Guest Author: Caroline Zwick
Imagine you had a little genie lamp and one Sunday morning, you happen to rub it on its side and out pops a humongous blue genie with shining gold bracelets around his wrists. You are his master and he tells you that whatever goal of yours you share with him is 100% going to come true. The catch is that it has to be a realistic and specific goal that you had to have thought about in previous times but had not dared to speak out loud. What secret goal of yours would reappear then? (Some examples might be “I would quit smoking”, “I would ask for a raise”, “I would ask someone out on a date (instead of waiting to be asked)”, “I would say ‘no’ more and set healthier boundaries”, “I would become a writer”, “I would lose 15 pounds”, “I would build a strong relationship with potential buyers of my product.”)
Tune in to yourself and think what goal of yours you would share with the genie.
Thinking about the goal you would share with the genie knowing it would definitely come true felt different, didn’t it? By guaranteeing that your goal would come true no matter what, your fear of failure was eliminated. Fear of failure is what ever so often keeps us from voicing our true desires and especially from actively pursuing them. It’s easier, less scary, and much saver to pretend like whatever you deep down desire isn’t really realistic anyway. Then you convince yourself that this desire isn’t worthy of being formulated into a goal because all you would be doing is risk not cashing in on your attempts.
Fear of shame, loss, regret, negative feedback, and failure are only some of the fears that are keeping us from breaking through and going for our own deepest wants.
These fears convince us that goal setting is icky, overrated, and only for control freaks. In reality, goal setting is an opportunity for you to set yourself up for success; both for concrete measureable successes (ex. more money, a promotion, weight loss/gain) and more loosely defined, intuitive successes (ex. better boundaries, more free time, better relationships).
In order to support you through this inner hurdle of whether or not to start goal setting, here are the top three excuses I hear from my clients. Acceptance of what’s holding you back is the first step in the game, so check in and see if you recognize yourself in any of the following scenarios:
“I just like to be present centered and go with the flow.” What you have to realize is that being present centered and goal setting are not mutually exclusive. Goals are not meant to map out your entire lifestyle and put you into a rigid, no-fun system that you need to stick to in order to succeed. Goals are merely yardsticks that point you into a direction that you get to choose for yourself. They are meant to provide a pull for you, so that you can move towards a place that you believe –with your best current judgment- is in accordance with your ideal life. Goals can change. In fact, goals should change as your vision of your ideal life changes. Both, your goals and your vision, are living documents. Being present centered can very much be part of your goals; you will just be asked to commit to a specific way or strategy of encouraging yourself to actually be present centered.
“I am just not there yet” to which I like to respond “Well you don’t know where ‘there’ is, so how could you?” The purpose of goal setting isn’t to construct a list of your life’s achievements that sound glorious and perfect. The purpose of goal setting is to create a friendly ally for you who supports you in the process through thick and thin. That means that there is no such thing as “I am not there yet.” If you claim that you are not there yet, then one of your goals might sound like this: “I go on a 1 hour walk every Friday morning where I have time with myself to think about what I truly desire in my life. After each walk I write out 1 sentence that describes something I discovered about myself and my desires.” Allow your goal setting to meet you where you are!
“I am not experienced/professional/educated/smart/pretty/old/young/strong/ thin/capable… enough.” (or alternatively, “I am too old/young/ugly/stupid…”)
I cannot tell you how often I come across amazing, beautiful, and talented people who –once we dig a little bit deeper- admit that they somehow feel insufficient. This deep set feeling of insufficiency fuels their fear of failure and thus makes them extra resistant to goal setting. If feeling “not experienced enough,” for example, is the issue for why you have not applied for a new position, then take some time, sit down in your favorite most comfy chair, grab some tea, and ask “Am I actually not experienced enough? Will I really not be able to adopt the skills necessary when I have this new position? Do I really feel that if I had this new position, it would increase my personal happiness?” Basically, I am saying that you need to reality-check your own self-talk. Are you really not old/experienced/pretty enough to ask for a raise everyone else seems to deserve? Is your product really not worth the money you would like to get for it? Are you really not good enough to contact potential clients and other networking resources? Once you cleaned out the negative, doubtful energy that you direct towards yourself, goal setting will be a lot easier. Start with getting your WHOLE SELF on board with your own success!
As you are diving into these emotional sides of goal setting, remember to be gentle and patient with yourself. It’s ok to take some time and learn how to goal set, learn how to listen to yourself, learn how to align your external goals with your inner desires. The point is for you to simply start. You are so worth it!
Caroline Zwick is an Authenticity & Goal Setting Coach. Through her own experience of a spinal injury, Caroline developed her unique focus on personal authenticity, which she employs to support her clients in distinguishing their own voice from external expectations. She is the creator of “Find Your Voice & Speak With It Too,” a 10-step program during which she guides her clients through a series of exercises to unveil self-limiting beliefs, identify personal values, and set goals in health, work, love, and play that grow out of the client’s personal authenticity.
Caroline holds a M.A. in Counseling Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute, where she wrote her M.A. Thesis on how women experience emotion –specifically anger, sadness, and joy- in their bodies. Watch her video here.