3 Ways to Get Your Goals Back on Track

So many of us have great ideas and goals set at the 1st of the year, only to lose them by February 14th and then beat ourselves up because we can’t seem to stay on track. Some of us are crushing it in some places and not in others. Today take time to reflect on your goals and see where you can up level your life and get back or stay on track with your goals and plans for 2019.

We are into the second quarter of 2019, how are you doing on your goals for the year? Many around the world just finished celebrating Easter, a time for Christians to reflect on new beginnings and creating the life they would like to have, rather than the one they were handed. In the natural world, at least in the northern hemisphere, this is the time of fresh starts, new sprouts, and lots of possibility. Dreams of the garden flowers, harvest foods, and vacationing come to mind. 

As we move further into spring and all its hope, where are you crushing your goals? Where have you lost focus? Take the time to review what is working and what is not. Now is the season to reflect on next steps and make changes if you are recognizing they are needed. 

Successful people know flexibility is part of the success process. Failure happens, and it teaches. If you find that an area is failing it is time to determine if / what needs to change. Revisit your goals and find the places that need an adjustment, then make it. 

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If you have lost focus, it is time to visit what keeps getting in your way and get back in the game. Here are 3 ways to refocus, reflect, make change or get back on track starting right now. 

  1. Revisit your plans. Remember how we looked at setting goals at the start of the year. Re-read your plan. If you did not create a written plan or outline, do it now. It is important to have some representation of your goals you can look at regularly. Otherwise it becomes too easy to slip back into old habits and beliefs. Change takes time and without regular focus on what you would like to see different, you will fall back into old patterns. So today, pull out your yearly goals and revisit them. See yourself doing them. See yourself being successful having accomplished them. See yourself going through the motions to get them done. A little bit of work each day on your goals, goes a very long way. 
  2. Look at your vision board. If you did not create a vision board at the start of the year. Make one now. It does not have to be complicated. Find a few pictures that represent your goals for the year. Then paste them in a place you will see them regularly. I put mine in my daily planner. I took a page in the book I didn’t need and used that to put my vision board on. Then I look at each day as part of my morning meditation. During this time, I do not worry about the work, the steps, the how of accomplishing my bigger goals. I just look at the pictures. This exercise has been shown to help our brains orient to our goals and therefore find more success accomplishing them. When we are “primed” for our goals, we can see the opportunities that once may have been lost in our daily grind. We can see the items we need to say yes to, and the ones we need to say no to. When you have a good vision of where you are going and what you want, the daily to do list gets more clear. Thus, helping you focus on what you need to do next. 
  3. Create a reflection process. It can be in the morning, mid-day, evening the timing does not matter as long as it is your best time to focus, and it needs to be done with regularity. Many people skip this step because it feels like “doing nothing”, however it is very important step in making your dreams a reality. During this time, dream. Just allow yourself to review your vision board, your mission statement, and your overall direction. Let yourself dream whatever you want about your goals. See them big and full, see them in all their colors, vivid details, and possibility. This is not a time to worry about how you are going to make your dreams a reality. It is not a time to worry about greed, materialistic, or grandiose ideas you might have. This is a time for you to really allow yourself to see your dream complete. Your dream is perfectly ok, as long as it is not about harming another as this keeps your stuck in negative patterns rather than growth patterns. It does not matter if others find your dream valid or interesting. It is not theirs it is yours. As long as you are focused on positive aspects, you can have whatever you want in whatever way you want it. It will not be the same as other people’s dreams. It is not theirs … it is yours. Just allow yourself to see it in your mind’s eye in its entirety and feel the wonderful feelings of successfully accomplishing it. 

Today, check back into those goals you created to start 2019. How are you doing on them. If you were to rate yourself on a scale from 1-10, 10 being crushing it, how are you doing? Could you give yourself an 8 or better? If not, why not. What has gotten in your way and how can you find a solution around your obstacle? If yes, what are you doing that is working? Can you create more of that everyday to help you reach your goals with success?

Ground Hog Day in Your Life? The pain of staying the same or the pain of change? 7 Steps to master moving your life forward for the better.

Have you ever thought “I’ve been here before. This thing keeps happening to me. Why am I destined to repeat this experience”? Many people looking to change how they behave in the world experience this. It is the impetus for change. That feeling of being stuck and repetitive. The uncomfortable feeling of doing the same thing over and over hoping for different results is often what drives us to change. Ever heard the saying “the pain of staying the same, must be greater than the pain of change”? That is part of why we find ourselves in repetitive situations we do not like. We are getting ready to change. 

Everyday I deal with people who want their lives to be different, but cannot figure out necessary steps to get where they want to go. We are all like that, and we all have those experiences. Those times when we want our lives to be different and do not know how to make it happen. It can be one of the most maddening feelings – to know we need to do something different and not know what to do next. It can be hard to ask for help or even find the people we need to guide us well. Many of us do not know who to ask or how. Today take a look at your life and note if you want to change. Below outlines some common experiences and then steps for making change happen in your life. 

It can be helpful to understand why we find ourselves in the same sorts of situations over and over. It starts with our culture and our communities. We only know what we are taught and those items come from where we come from (this generation and those past). Everybody’s culture is different. I have road-tripped through most of the lower 48 and although we share the label of being from the United States of America we are so different. We might look alike, but our cultures are different. Within each family system our cultures are different. You might find the family next door does things very different from your family just a house away. Each of us is also influenced by our communities.

Each of us is also influenced by our communities:

  • Who is in our peer group?
  • What do they focus on?
  • What activities do they do?
  • What do they value?

Once we have the lenses of personal culture, it is really hard to take them off. 

Think about having colored glasses on. When you are wearing yellow lenses it is hard to see yellow things. When you wear red glasses, red items are difficult. This is what it is like to wear the lenses of your culture. You do not know what you are missing because you cannot see what your lenses cover up. It is just the way you have always done things. The way your family is, and this translates into the way the world is … even when it is not. The global leap to “this is the way everybody is, … should be, … does it” gets in our way of relating. We think we know what it is like for other people only to find out it is not the same which is hard for our personal identities. 

For example, I like peanuts. I have eaten them many ways throughout my lifetime. Being from the upper midwest I had never encountered boiled peanuts until I was taken to a boiled peanut stand in the backwoods of South Carolina. Everyone raved about how great they were going to be and I had no idea what I was in for. I had no lens to understand boiled peanuts or why you would cook them that way. I had never been exposed to boiling peanuts in the shells and then eating them as though they were a special item. I did not have a lens to understand the reasons, what to expect, or even how to find them – I never would’ve found that shack on my own, even if I did I wouldn’t know why to stop there. I had never tasted boiled peanuts before. 

This is why it is so hard to break free from repetitive situations. You have lenses that shape what you know and what you see, therefore you keep finding the same things over and over with no way of knowing what you do not know. I did not know boiled peanuts existed or what they would taste like because I had never been exposed to them before. I never thought of having boiled peanuts, therefore did not even know to look for them.

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Lets broaden this out to relationships. Ever wonder why you or someone else continues to pick partners that are similar, even when you have sworn off that type of person forever? It is because the lens you are wearing shapes the people you find. Our exposure to relationships begins with our earliest ones, our primary caregivers. The cultural lenses we were handed are the role models we saw in our first years. How they treated each other, how they treated us, ways they communicated, words they chose to express their connection, what they gave value to and what they ignored all create the foundation for our intimate relationships. We often do not know we wear these lenses, it is just “how marriages are”, “how lovers treat each other”, “what men / women are like”, etc. We speak as though it is always the same, because it is all we know. When we encounter a partner opportunity different than our personal lens we think they are weird or we do not even notice them. Their personal style of dress, hair, stature, way of communicating, interacting, or being does not match our lens so we do not see them as options for us, thus we cannot shift our picks. 

Another common area where people struggle is money and work. For many we work in similar jobs and live at a similar social-economic level as our family of origin. We may break out a bit ahead but often we stay stuck at the same levels. This is because the lenses we were shown about work, money, material comforts, location of living, etc. were handed to us by our earliest experiences. Often we are not aware of what those paradigms were or why they existed. We may remember messages about “value of hard work”, “money is the root of all evil”, “poor equals dirty/stupid/lazy/___”, “money equals love” or “nothing easy is worth anything”. We may have been present to arguments or worried conversations our caregivers had about finances and taken information in without awareness. As a result we continue to repeat the patterns with work and money we know. If we felt included in the culture we often find value in being “blue collar”, “redneck”, “high class”, or “well off”and as a result we are likely to repeat them. If we felt discomfort at the lenses we were handed as children we become determined to do it differently, often with gusto. This is the pain of staying the same and it drives us to initiate change. 

It can happen externally, like the above example, or this pain can be driven from internal strife. Take the concept of weight management. If you feel uncomfortable enough in your physical body, you will make necessary lifestyle choices to change your current predicament. You go through the process of shifting your lenses for what your weight should be – this may have come from pictures, physical health issues, family or friends who have made a change – and you find people to help you. You might check out a magazine, buy a book, hire a personal trainer, join a gym, enlist a friend, the list goes on for ways we drop our old lenses. Once we drop them we learn how big the world really is. We begin to see how much the world has to offer us in the particular area of interest. We finally begin to see the possibilities and we go after our goals. This is the pain of change. It takes time and often numerous failures before we get it right, but we are learning and expanding our lenses all the way. 

So if you are looking around your life and saying it’s like ground hog day – happening again and again and I do not like it – it is time to takes steps to make the change. Here’s how to begin:

  1. Determine what you want to be different
  2. Decide what you want it to be like – get specific in your vision of what could be, see it clearly in your head
  3. Create a goal statement & post it where you can see it everyday, multiple times a day. Make a vision board of pictures and sayings that represent your goal. Hang it where you will see it often.
  4. Break your goal into smaller chunks using SMART goals
    1. Specific
    2. Measurable
    3. Attainable
    4. Realistic 
    5. Timed (when will you complete, how long will you work at it). Change is best done in 10% increments. So just make a SMART goal on the 1st 10% change step. When we complete that we’ll make the next and then the next until you reach the big goal. 
  5. Find a helper. Enlist family, friends, trainers, therapists, coaches to help you get to the next level. Find a couple new friends who are mastering what you want to accomplish, watch videos of people succeeding like you would like to, read about them. Get exposed to what they are doing to have what you want as much as you possibly can.
  6. Decide how you will reward yourself. Is it praise, a new item, an experience? What is it you want for accomplishing your goal? Find pictures and post them where you will see them often
  7. Finally, make it social. Tell your family, friends, join a group, hire a coach, see a therapist. Get someone on your side and find support to help you stay on track. 

Can You Accept Yourself?

Can you truly accept yourself? Fully accept yourself? Just as you, today, in this moment, whatever it brings? So many of us answer a big fat Loud NO. We have all sorts of reasons we aren’t good enough and plenty of ways we could be acceptable … If we’d just ____________ (Get it together). Today lets focus on what we are doing well. 

In what area of your life are you proud of yourself? Really proud of yourself, not in service of your children, parents, employer, or anyone else. Where are you really proud of you, your actions, behaviors, commitment, follow though, etc.
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Why do you love this part of you? What’s so good about it?
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How does it make you great?
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What is a small change you can make right now, today to be a little better at this? Keep in mind sustainable change in lifestyle habits happens in small (think 10%) increments. Must be realistic within your time frame, make it specific, and measurable. This is the SMART goal principle developed by George Doran (1981). You are better off stating “I’ll eat 2 more servings of vegetables today. One at breakfast and one at dinner” rather than “I will eat more healthy today”.
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Next what are you going to do to make this change happen? Here we are looking for a change in behavior. What will you do differently?
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How was that exercise? Easy? Difficult? Were you able to find something you love about yourself? If not, I wonder why not. I may not know you and yet, I do know if you found nothing to be proud of it’s bullshit and old learning. I have seen the under belly of human experience and still find treasures there. It doesn’t have to a huge thing. We are looking for the big AND the small things. For example I was really proud of the way I used a new skill of asking questions this morning while I was talking to my husband. This mattered to me because it helped me be more effective in my communication and if I can use this skill in one more conversation today (2) and add 10% more tomorrow (2.2 conversations) soon I will be having effective communication in more than half my conversations, and then most of them before you know it. With each interaction I will feel a little more mastery (the key to building self-esteem) and pride. As I build those I begin to approve of myself more and more, leading to more and more positive change in my life. So I’ll ask you again …
What’s one thing about you, you can be proud of?
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Follow the above prompts now that you’ve found your thing. If you are still stuck … Maybe that one thing to be proud of is that you don’t give up on this exercise. ?
Know that getting stuck isn’t the problem. We all get stuck. It’s staying stuck that is. The way out of the muck is to shift your thinking. It isn’t easy if you’ve been caught In a negative rut, to turn toward the positive, drop your judgment of yourself and others, and stop listening to the negative vibes of others. Commit to yourself and work on remaining in a positive frame of thought for 10% more of your day today.
If some of these words are too strong for you right now change them to make sense for you. I challenge you to consider why not use these words?
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Does whatever holds you back from using them need to be released?
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Is it an old belief or message you can drop?
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What would happen if you did embrace words like love, great, good enough for yourself as descriptors?
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