Why Goals Will Only Get You Part Way There — and How to Bridge the Gap
Each year, we instinctively feel the opportunity and invitation to begin anew. One year is over and another has begun, bringing with it the sweetness of infinite possibility. One way of giving form to these possibilities is to create New Year’s Resolutions. While it is traditional to make these resolutions at the beginning of the year, the truth is that we can start anytime, anywhere. In fact, a study from the University of Scranton actually found that setting resolutions in January wasn’t as effective as creating them in other times of the year, because people often tend to feel pressure to set them without being prepared to carry them out.
It all begins with a desire. Sometimes that desire is an aspiration to reach higher by beginning something new, and other times it is a determination to go to the next level of effectiveness with things we’re already doing.
To create powerful resolutions that are aligned with our highest good, we need to find a way to pull ourselves out of the daily grind and into a space that is big enough for our hearts and minds to roam freely. It requires that we carve out time to be alone for awhile, so that we can reacquaint ourselves with what’s most important in our lives and tune into what is beckoning to be discovered or unearthed. In these moments, we can reflect, inquire, and dream. And we can reconnect with the inner wisdom we all possess that provides the guidance we need to transform vision into reality.
I’ve always found that for some reason, being in an airplane allows me to find clarity. As the ground gets further and further away, the little things that consumed my attention before I left seem to get smaller and smaller just like the cars and buildings that slowly disappear out of view. And then I am flying. Suddenly I feel as though it is easier to see a bigger picture. Things fall into place in my mind and I feel energized and optimistic. I have discovered that climbing mountains and retreating into nature can have a similar effect.
With intention and conscious effort, I believe we can create this experience anywhere, anytime. The key is to allow our minds to rise above the clamor we are usually surrounded by so that we can get a broader view of our lives and from that perspective see things we may have previously missed. And this is exactly what we need to do before we can rise above anything else. Albert Einstein said we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking with which they were created. When we allow ourselves to get this higher perspective, we can go beyond looking at things to examine the very lens through which we are looking — and make any necessary adjustments.
Our mindsets are like giant projectors. What we see and do in our lives is based on the movies we are playing and the roles in those movies that we have cast ourselves in.
You can’t expect to be the hero in your adventure if the movie in your mind is a horror flick or tear jerker that has you playing the victim. So when we set goals, it is not enough to commit ourselves to acting in new ways. We must also think in new ways. The other day I heard someone refer to New Year’s resolutions as the opportunity to resolve — or re-solve anything that is holding us back. And this is exactly what we must do.
It comes down to whatever we identify most with. If you want to use your time more effectively but you identify with the experience of running late and feeling harried as you rush from one thing to another, it is only a matter of time before your actions will mirror your mindset. Despite your time management system, you will likely continue to over commit yourself, try to squeeze too many things in, or make more efficient things that really shouldn’t be done at all.
However, if you begin to experience what it would feel like to think from the mindset of someone who always seems to get the most important things done and have ample time to enjoy life and everything in it, you will make different decisions, know intuitively what you must let go of and come up with actions and habits that support your new way of thinking. And you are far more likely to have lasting success.
Upon reflection, I realized that I long for more simplicity and peace in my life, as well as the ability to boldly tackle new endeavors without making them into huge feats that leave me exhausted and overwhelmed. I have noticed that I have a tendency to complicate and resist some of the things that I know are good for me, but that I am scared of for one reason or another. In the past I’ve allowed my fear to make things much harder than they need to be — probably so that I can rationalize my resistance to them.
It will not be enough for me to set a goal to simplify more, complicate less, and take bolder action. I need to change my mindset from someone who is overwhelmed and overly cautious and fearful about big, bold endeavors to someone who has clear resolve, determination and a lightness that allows me to take myself and everything I do less seriously.
The other day a handyman came over to fix a dozen or so things that I have been procrastinating for months. Every time I looked at that list, I felt weighed down. I never intended to actually fix them all myself, but for whatever reason even thinking about it felt heavy (similar to how some of my major projects have felt.) As I watched this man spring into action, easily taking care of one thing after another in a matter of minutes and cheerfully coming back to the list to see what was next, I realized that he has the mindset that I need.
What would it be like to see from that perspective? What would it feel like to power through important projects and new endeavors with such lightness? That is what I need to get my head around and into in order for my new behavior to take root.
As we go about our resolutions and goals, we would do well to ask ourselves what achieving those things would give us. How will they make us feel? When we can create the feeling of having achieved them, we begin to embody the mindset we need to project the movie we really want to see. It is important to word goals in the present tense, because these goals are really not so much about what we want to create in the future as what we want to embody and take pleasure in now. The results have a way of catching up to us.
When we can already enjoy the feeling of having what we seek and see through the eyes of someone who has already arrived, we can go about achieving our goals with much more lightness, ease and joy. And from that place, we can inspire others to do the same.
If you’d like to read more about the power our thoughts have in affecting our reality and achieving our greatest goals and visions and how to align them for your greatest success, check out my new book The Pinocchio Principle: Becoming the Leader You Were Born to Be. For more information or to order, go to www.PinocchioPrinciple.com.