6 Ways of Creating and Maintaining Goals

Photo via  Google

Photo via Google

“This is not about ‘what you want to be when you grow up,’ anymore. This is: You’re in your 30s, and pick something.  I mean, if you’re happy, then by all means keep at it.  If you’re not, then do something different. People do this all the time now.  When you’re 50 you might do it again.  It’s really fine.  Just pick something and go for it already.  We were sitting across from each other, cross-legged, on a gym mat.  We had just finished stretching after a cycling session.  Two friends, nearly mid-life (two very different lives,) taking a moment to “cool down” as our conversation reached a serious tone. 

What perpetuated this “girl-talk sesh” was the string of conversations I had been having with my Uncle:  “You have been reactive throughout your life.  Everything you have done is in response to what other people have done to you or given you to work with Let’s talk about being proactive.  Tell me your goals.  Where do you want to be five years from now?  

His question was met with a painful silence.  

He gave me a writing assignment, knowing full-well if I had something to say on the subject this would be the trick to getting me to spill it.  He had me write my own eulogy.  The results were astonishing.  What followed was a slow upward climb, but there was progress none-the-less.  Fighting against yourself, and 25 years of treading water, is likely to be challenging.  I look forward to the rewards.  For now, it is mostly work.  Through this process I have learned a lot about the steps to take to set goals and stay focused on them.  It began with writing on my death and ends with purposefully living my life. 

Here are the steps I have been taking to make this happen for myself: 

Write Your Eulogy 

It seems morbid, perhaps, but it is one sure-fire way to find out what has culminated in your life up until now and how you really feel about it.   

Open Yourself up to a Paradigm Shift 

Stephen Covey, who wrote Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, offers an opportunity to go beyond looking at where you have been and where you are.  He encourages you to look at things from a totally different angle.  It is kind of like those weird Magic Eye books, where you are supposed to stare at a pattern until you see an image take shape.  It seems as if everyone else sees “it” right away.  Sometimes when we have trained ourselves to see things a particular way for so long it takes a huge effort to see something new, but it is so worth it.  The view might astound you. 

Be Proactive and Purposeful 

This is another concept found in Covey’s book.  When our lives are built solely on the fuel that feeds other people’s fires that can be draining.  There is a difference between being altruistic and having an excuse to become apathetic (in our personal lives.) Just think, all the people and organizations you give yourself to might have more to grow on if you keep your own fire lit as well.  Don’t wait for things to fall apart or into your lap. Go! Be! Do! 

Write the Goals and Trim the Fat 

Part of being intentional is making that list. I found the task daunting until my Uncle (and mentor) simplified it for me. Make a master list of things you know you want to do or have happen in your life. Then make a simplified list of goals to accomplish within a year by picking five doable items.  Now that you have narrowed your focus on what you do want to have happen in your life you will inevitably see the things that are counterproductive to those efforts. Make the cutrip it like a band aid if you must. Be kind but fearless. It is for the greater good.  

Find Your Element 

Sir Ken Robinson is another great author to take a look at. His book, The Element, left an indelible mark on me. There is a something that you do that puts you in the “I was made for this” state of mind.  It is crucial that you make room for that.  Find a way to locate it and let it grow.  The most freeing thing I found within Robinson’s book was the surprising fact that you won’t necessarily be instantly awesome at your element.  It is okay if it is something you work at, in fact, working on it will probably be some of the sweetest moments of your life.   

Celebrate Every Victory 

Share your journey! Take it from surreal to real as you bring it to life each time you retell the story of how you built a bridge and got over a past rejection, an inner “I can’t,” or a big bad bully. This is your time!  It is also incredibly infectious and inspiring! Reproducing dream-makers is a beautiful thing.   

Whether this message leads you to discover or rediscover, I hope you will choose to get your bearings and go bravely off toward your uncharted territory. Do not be afraid to commit to yourself, to set new goals, nor of the slowness of the climb which leads you ever closer.  Embrace the saying, “It is about the journey, not the destination.” The difficulty, the pain, the small victories, the story, they are all what make you who you are. That is wonderful and not to be feared. Every failure and success is continuously reforming the clay of your life. No matter where you are in your journey it is not finished yet. There is more to discover, medals to win, trails to cover, and epic scenery to behold. Every step counts. As a fellow dream-maker encouraged me, “Get out of your own way and get to it!” 


Erica Bauman - Guest Blogger

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