After my last blog post and diving head long into Melissa Ambrosini’s book, I’ve felt like I needed to tread water for a while… I needed time to think about how my “mean girl” presents herself and how she’s been trying to use my own goals against me! (How cruel is that.!). Those of you that have read my blog will know that I am and remain a massive advocate of goals which have – in the main – served me well… but at times I know they have also been a real killer too!
I could ramble on and on about goal setting and how important they can be – believe me, I’ve done that umpteen times before…because I truly believe they have a purpose. Personally, I find they stop me from just drifting along, jumping from one “crisis” to the next… allowing me to be much more proactive than reactive in how I plan for and deal with situations and circumstance.
However, what I’ve come to appreciate is that goal setting isn’t enough…it’s just a first step! Remember when I set that goal to quit sugar?… well, if I hadn’t had a plan to follow, something to put into action, would I have achieved my goal?! Of course, I wouldn’t! … To be successful, you need to make things happen… not just wait and let things happen to you! Goals need to be specific AND acted upon.
Since my last blog where I shared Melissa’s key message that “YOU” need to make shit happen… I’ve been questioning how her philosophy and process around this key message could better support and work with my own goal setting… I mean, could “living in the moment” really snuggle up with my outcome based goals? … or were these two bed fellows always going to end up having an enormous pillow fight? Melissa suggests that goals “take you out of the present moment”… so how does that happen?
Ultimately, it was these thoughts that really got me thinking!…
Goals promote long-term vision and short-term motivation they can focus our intention, desire, gaining of knowledge, help us to take charge of resources, even secure an ambition. They set out outcomes for us to achieve this ambition or in simpler terms… list out what we want to get done …(hang in there) … Then, we go about achieving these goals by taking specific actions. Melissa agrees that you need to take action (that shit really does need to happen!)… and I presume that these are to a set of outcomes so, if the outcome is the same… is it our mindset or how we go about that is the key difference? I must admit I’ve set goals, planned for that something bigger (my ambition) to improve my life, make me happier and more fulfilled in the future… but – thinking about it – does that mean I’m unhappy and unappreciative of what I have now? and that my goals are actually taking me away from living in the moment and possibly making me feel miserable about not having what I want right now?
Without doubt, having long term goals has allowed me to think ahead, focus on my future and keep me motivated… I mean, we all need dreams right? but are they just that… dreams? Okay, so maybe, I’m thinking too much black or white here with “long term goals” vs “living in the moment” and that there has to be a winner when in reality, just like everything in life, there needs to be a compromise and no one need is more important than the other… So, it looks to me like the answer here is to not consider them individually… but think about how they might interact and influence each other. For instance, when my short-term needs (living in the moment) change, they may not always benefit my long-term needs or goals… like when I decided to have fun eating cake with friends which in NO way sat well with my long-term plans to be sugar free and living a healthy life style! but hey in that moment … having fun with friends was so much more important!
Don’t get me wrong, my long-term goals definitely still have a place, it’s just that now I ensure that mine are more generic, provide vision, free flowing, standard in fact and nonspecific… not like a short term SMART goal at all! (if you want a reminder of what a short term SMART goal looks like click here)…and as for those short term goals, I find at times they’ve become oppressive, where as soon as I reached one, another one popped up! I have been over using them and they had begun to suck all the enjoyment and spontaneity out of my life…but ironically, when I’ve needed to just get something done, I have used SMART goals because without them, I would purely just live in the moment and may never get certain things done… procrastination can be very alluring!
As you can see, I’m going back and forth here, trying to choose the best… but what if both are best?
Here’s a great example of what I mean… one of my long-term goals is “to be fit and healthy” and to support this, I’ve set a specific short-term goal to make sure that each day, I run and walk 5km in the gym for a minimum of 30 minutes to increase cardio fitness. As SMART goals go, this is gold standard… but living in the moment it was a whole different ball game… Whilst exercising my focus was on the target, watching the clock or how far I’d run… pushing myself… taking no enjoyment from the exercise at all… it felt like a punishment and if I fell short (not literally) the “mean girl” I referred to earlier, jumped right in… with thoughts like “you’re pathetic, a failure you can’t even do this!” …
I’ve now decided, in fact needed, to go about this differently! My short term SMART goal now is just to exercise daily, … but through walking or running anytime or anywhere I wanted, just see how I feel on the day. If energized, I run longer, pushing myself along and have fun changing it about, running at different speeds and gradients, almost racing against myself… like a big kid… and if I felt tired I just walk. This introduced another of Melissa’s themes for allowing yourself some “self-love”… I’ve started to listen and be compassionate to my needs. I no longer give my mean girl the chance to shout out about how pathetic I was not reaching my specific goal, or that I couldn’t do it, I wasn’t strong enough, quick enough, fit enough! … Instead I listen to my body and I decide what to do on any particular day… This thinking allows things to become more adaptable and not so rigid… fluid in fact!
Reflecting on all of this has helped me to realize that we all need to be present, in the moment and living it! Yes, goals allow us to structure, act, plan and progress but we should never let it be our all!
Personally, I know I need a sense of order, some sort of structure to get things done, it’s just my nature and I won’t ever deny that, however, I also know that sometimes I need to put more energy into meeting certain deadlines and goals help me to achieve that… but I won’t now let them become the “be all and end all”. I’m really trying to be mindful that the process does not take over and that I keep it present and in the moment. So, yes, I will continue to use SMART goals… but sparingly, I won’t use them for everything… I’ll be more using the four-step plan I outlined in my previous blog… I’m still dreaming “big” and have my ambitions! … but hey, I’m also enjoying being present, grateful for what I have and even on my bad days (yeah shit still happens!) I refocus and find something to be grateful for!
In conclusion and after treading water for a while (trust me this was a difficult one to reflect upon and write) I finally feel ready to move on! … I continue with my plan, reading Melissa’s book and find I’m more open to be driven by love not fear… I’m practicing self-love, because you know, it’s not a dirty word,
“self-love is not selfish”
Fear has been my driving force for far too long … Already, I’ve done something I’ve been putting off for 2 years or more, without making a SMART goal out of it, go me, huh!
As always, I’m grateful that you have taken the time to read this and as usual would love to hear your thoughts and reflections … how you are going to be present for you today or what keeps you in the present moment and tell me, does this include setting goals?…