It’s already mid January, and if you are anything like me, you may be still staring blankly at the goals that you have set for yourself and wondering, “How the hell am I going to get all of this done?” Many times before, I have set goals for myself: bullet points in a journal, SMART goals with tangible results, or even goals through courses I have taken. All of these various styles of goal setting can be extremely helpful, but it’s also important for you to figure out what way works best for you and execute your goals in that fashion. Sometimes this might look like a hodge-podge of things you have learned in order to stay true to you and work within your strengths.
I have been talking a lot about goals in the last month. To me, they are things that I set out to reach, and I have always tried to make them things that I could see a result. Most of the time I come up short because I am not good at planning out the smaller steps to see the big changes, but I know that I need to. Some of what holds me back are some parts of myself that I have not yet worked through. My fear of rejection and disappointment. My anticipated shame in not reaching said goals. My fear of success and not knowing how to handle that. My doubt in myself and abilities. My worry of not being liked. There are so many more, and it takes hard work to do all of the internal processing to get past what keeps us in the blank stare when we look at our dreams, goals, and what our best life would look like.
…it takes hard work to do all of the internal processing to get past what keeps us in a blank stare when we look at our dreams, goals, a nd what our best life would look like.
In it all, how do you stay true to yourself? That’s actually a pretty touch question, because in order to stay true to yourself, you would need to know who that person is for you. In my 36 years of life on this earth, I have been through many changes, challenges, and transitions, and I do not believe that I am the same person now that I was back then during those difficult times. However, there are pieces of me that have stuck around in various forms (fear of rejection, perfectionism, worry, etc.) because of those time and because they are trying to help in some way. As I repeated certain patterns of behavior, these parts were ingrained in my being, thus creating a protective layer to my true self, and I currently wasn’t who I wanted to continue to be.
A really good example is pouting. Please no judgement as I divulge my young tactics as a child to get what I wanted. Let’s be real, we all probably had some childhood quirk that we used to get what we wanted from our parents, and maybe sometimes we still see this come out in our adult selves too, even if we would never share that publicly. When I was a kid, I would pout. If things did not go my way, I didn’t verbalize what was wrong, but my mom could always tell when I was mad because I would pout and put on a frown. I would be silent for a period of time until things would change. As a child, when I realized this tactic worked, then I would keep doing it.
Fast forward to my adult life. Again, this work isn’t easy when looking at your own unproductive, embarrassing parts of ourselves to make change for the better. As an adult, I found that I would still pout during an argument or when things wouldn’t go my way. I hadn’t developed any different coping skills, however, I also knew that if I did not change my behavior and way of thinking, I would not know how to argue and voice my opinion as an adult. I did not want to continue to try to stay silent anymore. This pouting part of me served a purpose and worked as a child, but it was no longer working as an adult. However, since it was a tactic that served me well for years and years, this behavior and way of reacting was ingrained in my way of being. If we are not willing to take a real hard look at those parts that come up for us and that have been with us for years, we will always be living in: fear, shame, regret, worry, etc.
Back to goals. Something feels different this time around when I have been writing out my goals, or rather my declarations. I can feel it deep down. I have been doing the internal work for a couple of years now (with ups and downs all in between, and still more work to do), and I feel like I am starting to peal away these layers of parts that used to serve me so well. In a way, I am once again uncovering who I am as a person, which has in turn, led me to be open to what works best for me in reaching my goals in a realistic way. Because I am working out of a place of comfort with my ability in who I am and more centered in myself, I don’t feel like my goals are so far-fetched anymore. I am starting to believe in myself again and have the confidence to learn and wonder more, yet also transform things into a way that works best for me. You can do this too.
It’s time to stop blankly staring at your dreams on a piece of paper. Instead, it is time to take a step back and put in the hard work to ask yourself, “What is getting in my way?” Often times, it is our own selves even when we try to make excuses, but before you can make a change, it takes acknowledging what it is that is holding you back, taking a deep look at where that is coming from, learn to thank that part for how it was serving you in the past, and show it compassion in the present. In thanking that part, you are able to let it know that you see it, hear it, and appreciate what it has done for you in the past, but you are a new person, you are YOU and by uncovering that ever-so-slowly, you will find that the blocks to your goals will start to melt away.
Let’s start today. Grab a pen and a piece of paper or a journal. Start with one goal. Write that goal down. When thinking about that goal, answer these questions (I have put an example in parenthesis):
What emotion comes up when I think about reaching this goal? (fear)
What limiting belief does this emotion stem from? (The fear of not reaching my goal and once again sitting in disappointment, fear that I cannot do this, fear of being an imposter in my field)
Does this thought hold value? Do I want to continue to have this thought about my goal? (No, because I cannot predict what he future will hold in reaching this goal. I am holding fear about a result that has not happened. It does not hold value for me because it halts me from continuing in my work)
What would I like to tell myself instead about this goal? (I am capable of prioritizing my time to reach my goals. I have the skills and ability to reach my goals)
Thank the part that comes up for you for all it has done to protect you up until this point. (Thank you fear for keeping me safe from criticism and any disappointment in the past in regards to my goals, but today is a new day and I am capable of reaching these goals)
Think of this exercise as a start to debunking the myths that you have been telling yourself for years. The example shows a very simple way of answering these questions. These questions are a guide to start thinking and thanking your mental roadblocks so that you are able to continue on in your goals as the true you, not the you from years ago. Self-discovery is a ever-evolving process as we peel back the layers that don’t serve us anymore and live more fulling in our true self, but despite doing the difficult internal work, there is much reward and much to gain in once again living in a way that serves you best.