If desire is the starting point of all achievement, the first obstacle we face is deciding what we most desire.
There are lots of reasons for this:
As soon as we have the thought about what we want, we simultaneously tell ourselves that it is impossible, or that it is a selfish or unworthy goal.
For as long as we do battle with ourselves we find it hard to decide on a definite plan.
We never really believe that we can have what we want.
Most plans are doomed to failure because we are creatures of habit
It is our habits that have got us to where we are now, wishing and hoping for things to change while we keep doing the same things and expecting different results.
These ten questions are the starting point of a process of discovery, reflection and planning that I’ve used with lots of people to help them to discover what they really want and make a plan to get it!
1. What did you accomplish last year?
Brag like no-one is listening! Don’t compare your achievements with anyone else’s. This is not a contest it’s just about YOU! If you are finding it hard to give yourself a pat on the back take a minute to wonder why.
2. What were your biggest disappointments in the past year?
When did you disappoint yourself? When did others disappoint you? What happened that was not in your control? It’s not about beating yourself up but about looking at how you handled things. If you find it easier to criticise than to praise yourself, ask why. Are you hanging on to any resentment or anger or have you let it go?
3. What did you learn?
What worked and why? What didn’t work and why? What will you start doing? What will you keep doing? What would you stop doing?
4. How do you limit yourself and how can you stop doing it?
Fear is the biggest limiting factor in most people’s lives. Most fears are about things we imagine that never come true. What is it that you are most afraid of? What stories do you habitually tell yourself? What kind of self-image do you have? What would happen if you told yourself a different story and believed it?
5. What are your personal values?
Imagine you are an observer at your own funeral. What would you like people to say about you? How do you want to be remembered? How can you make your life be about living to these values?
6. What roles do you play in your life?
We hear a lot about work/life balance but what does this really mean to you? Everyone has many roles and they change as circumstances change. List all the roles you currently play – in no particular order – and then note the ones you do well and the ones you do badly.
7. Which role will you focus on?
Acknowledge that you have only so many hours in a day and that your first priority must be to taking care of yourself. This is like the airline notice that says “put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others”. If you are not taking care of yourself you become a liability. Note any conflicts and then decide which role will be your major focus, thinking how this will fit into a long term life plan.
8. What are your goals for each role?
The only sure thing about goal setting is that goals need to be seen in the context of your whole life. If you start with the end in mind and align your actions with your values you are more likely to succeed. Do you have a life plan and long term goals or are you in ‘let’s see how things turn out” mode? When you set the goals for each role check for conflicts and make adjustments where necessary.
9. What are your top goals for the next twelve months?
Choose from the goals for each role the ones that will make the most difference to your life. Keep checking back and revising the list until you have a list that thrills and excites you. If your list causes you doubts and worries, dig up the reasons. Be honest with yourself and if you really can’t see yourself achieving a particular goal, cross it out and replace it.
10. How can you make sure you achieve your goals?
Your goals needs to be a living breathing part of every second of your life. Every decision you make will take you nearer or further away from achieving your goals. Achieving your goals is not something you do as well as doing everything else in your life. Achieving your goals is about the way you live every moment. If your goals are consistent with your values and the roles you play in your life the changes you make will lead naturally to the end you have in mind.
If you’d like to explore any of this in greater depth just get in touch with me. I’ll be happy to help.