Really Meeting Goals! – Going Beyond Resolutions and Finding Accomplishment

“No matter what I do, I just don’t seem to make any headway with my goals these days” an executive coaching client or counseling patient might say to me. “It just seems to be impossible to get anywhere!” they say with frustration. “I make goals, I have vision, and I try really hard, but I don’t complete anything close to what I’ve planned or hoped for!” they say.

I certainly can empathize with those frustrations and disappointments. I can sympathize with them too, having had those feelings several times in my life. Recently though, I’ve been doing some reading and thinking that has helped me turn the corner in several of these areas.

Last year, at this time, in the Enewsletter we talked about Getting Things Done: Making New Year’s Resolutions a Reality.  That Enewsletter, with its worksheet questions was a big hit with our readership. But this year I wanted to go deeper and help our readers see even deeper and bigger change with some help from Dr. John Townsend my former boss, supervisor and current mentor.

There is so much advice and blog material on meeting goals for the year and lot of it’s great. With John’s book, The Entitlement Cure: Finding Success In Doing HARD Things The Right Way, I think I may have found some ideas that really work for my readers and myself. I’ll throw in some other practical advice that has worked well for my coaching clients and counseling patients not to mention my friends and myself.

1)      The saying, “Just Do It” doesn’t work! Sorry Nike, but making changes in your life or character is more of a process. Yes, intentionality, grit and excellent decision making are all important, but all of those things are internalized in us over time. If we don’t have them now, for whatever reason, we must internalize those things and develop them over time in our lives.

2)      Get Excellent and Compelling Goals: This can do much to pull you forward. You cannot push a rope.

3)      External Structure: This is like instructions or a cookbook. Get a plan, a class, a manual or a flow chart that tells you what to do next. Small attainable goals (SAGs) and appointments or deadlines on your calendar can give you the structure you need to start and stay on course.

4)      Relational Support: Create a “Life Team” with people who can accept you when you mess up but who will also hold you accountable to what you want to change, heal or grow in. They need to be safe (People who don’t abandon, don’t shame/blame, and who are not irresponsible) and they need to be in to growth.

5)      If you’re really having trouble with being lazy, feeling entitled and or putting boundaries on your or others’ behavior, do more bonding. Get some people or a counselor that can help you work more on the healing and grief you may need to deal with first. Good bonding gives us the platform from which to say “No!” Without bonding we’re likely to give someone too much power in our lives.

6)      a. Gather Some Tools: To make a big change, you’ll need information, consultation and experience. You may need to do some reading or take a class. Or you may need to get some consulting or coaching like an executive or star athlete. Experience can be obtained by internships, volunteering, job shadowing or part-time work in an area you’re interested in. Some seminars or workshops offer experiential exercises that can give you that boost in an area of interest.

b. Read one of the Proverbs every day three times. You’ll pick up more when you read it over and over. The deeper meaning will emerge as you seek to understand how practical this book is.

7)      Know your obstacles and triggers: What patterns do you have in the past that have led to defeat or apathy.

a. It could be saying, “I’ll be fine.” when you’re not.

b.  Getting isolated from friends or family.

c.  It could be “Majoring in the Minors.”

d.  Or it could be getting sick, tired or burned out

e.  There’s also being overwhelmed by the shoulds or have-to’s.

f.   Watch extreme thinking where you bolt out of the gate and go great guns with your new diet or your bi-weekly family game night only to find the idea dead three months later. Remember that it is faithfulness and diligence that wins the race for the tortoise when he was up against the hare.

g.   Also watch out for self-judgement or self-anger when you fall down or fail. Remember also, “for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again.” – Proverbs 24:16a. Don’t let failure define your attitude.

h.   Be careful of system or group thinking that may have an interest in keeping things the same. Your new weight loss makes your wacky Aunt Gertrude green with envy or your new MBA makes your boss worried you’ll end up as his boss. They may not mean to, but they can sabotage your progress.

Start off with one or two of the ideas above. Make sure you tell someone about your plans who will support you. This next section is even more pragmatic and will take you backwards to review last year so you don’t make the same mistakes and, at the same time, make better decisions and note your growth as you go forward.

Part 2 – Retrospective: To Help You Live And Not Just Survive.

First read Joshua 4: 1 – 7. Note what God did and what the people did.   The stones are there to help with punctuating a sequence of events.  Accident investigators do this all the time. They evaluate what happened so people can learn from the mistakes or, even learn, from victories during a critical incident. Look at what’s come from these evaluations for cars: seat belts, 5 MPH Bumpers, child seats, airbags, radial tires and rear facing cameras in SUVs just to name a few.

Here’s the questions for doing a retrospective:

1)      What were the key experiences God used to shape me in 2015

2)      What was a key change(s) that happened internally or externally in the past year? (e.g More at peace inside, was more patient with my kids, etc.)

3)      What is my focus moving into 2016

Some hints about the process:

a.       Find a quiet place with low distractions

b.      Start with the big picture. Write down every big experience and conversations that comes to mind.

c.       Do the same thing by season, (Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall)

d.      Do the same thing by month using your calendar or journal.

Now narrow your list to three or four key experiences and continue the process of retrospect.

1)      What was happening in your life in 2015?

2)      How did you experience these things?

Positve, Negative, Both, A growing experience, Not fun and I’m not doing that again, etc.

3)      What did you discover about God, yourself and others?

4)      What has been the take-aways or fruit of those experiences?

5)      What has changed, deepened or shifted in you and or your relationships and circumstances as a result of God’s activity and your interaction with Him and others?

As I’ve done these exercises, over time, I’ve seen some areas where I get stuck. This is a mediation process so don’t try to do it all at one time.  Take a week, share it with others and create a plan to do something different. Definitely celebrate the good stuff. That will put it your memory. Cut a new path based on the things you learned that were problems or consequences.

Get some rocks and put them some place where you can be reminded of what God has done for you. Look back to look forward!

 

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