In my previous post, I began to think about the process of departing from an intended goal and how we might strengthen resolve to increase our chances of achieving something we set out to (rather than setting ourselves up, yet again).
In this post, I hope to continue to explore similar territory, whilst getting a little more practical... It seems to me that mindfulness can be very useful, as a tool to enhance and expand our awareness of what it is that is most important to us, which may make achieving our goals easier.
To achieve a goal we need to be very clear about the value that underpins it. Unless we are clear about what it is that is important or meaningful to us, we run the risk of wandering off course, leading to a perpetuation of a vicious cycle (feeling like we've failed, and that we're a failure for having done so, resorting to punishing ourselves for this failure...)
Get clear - What is it that you really want?
Clarity is essential. Know exactly what it is that you're aiming for, and the changes you wish to see.
We need to know where we're going, but we also need to know how to recognise our destination when we get there!
Get focused - How are you going to get it?
Without focus, our attempts will come to nought. Commit to what it is that you want, and set in place strategies for avoiding negative thinking or external distractions.
It is best to envisage these before they happen, as you will be able to get back 'on track' more efficiently, should you veer off course for whatever reason.
Find your internal motivation - Why do you want it? Why now?
Understand why this particular goals is intrinsically important to you.
The goals we are most likely to achieve are those that mean most to us, on a deeply personal level. Conversely, goals we attempt which mean more to someone else or for which we are looking for extrinsic reward, are often far more challenging to achieve.
Translate ambition into action by changing your behaviour - it's an inside job
If you always do, what you've always done, then you'll always get what you always got.
Keep doing what you're doing, unless you want different results.
This includes your thinking patterns.
Observe your thoughts - conserve your energy
Rather than engaging your negative thoughts in a relentless and exhausting battle, practise letting go of them, allowing them to dissipate without letting them get in the way of your goals.
Remember that a thought is not the same as a fact.
Embrace the unpleasant - rise to the challenge
Negative experiences are a non-negotiable feature of doing life on life's terms. Accept them. Expect them. Learn to deal with them by planning for their occurrence and meeting them head-on.
These simple tools can be used for any self-improvement goal you might want to work on including those relating to physical health, education, work/career, parenting, or intimate relationships.
If you don’t have goals you might want to start by reflecting on what it is that's important to you in your life, what you can’t live without, or what you want to be remembered for. Your values begin to guide you like a compass, and goals are like the stepping stones. Every move you make and every decision you make in life will either get you closer or further from living your valued life.
You might find it helpful to identify a mentor (someone who can hold you accountable to your values when you’re working on your goals). A friend, coach, or mentor can help you recognise patterns of behaviour that are not in line with your valued life. Choose someone who is not quick to criticise or judge you; they may have achieved similar goals, and be willing to share their story with you. They can also help you celebrate success, which is important to positively reinforce the changes you make along the way.
Making a note of those things we are aiming towards is often helpful. Keeping this close to hand, or somewhere you are likely to see it regularly increases the likelihood that we will remind ourselves of the direction we are hoping to move in.
All of us are worthy, and deserving of meaningful lives. Reaching goals is entirely possible using mindfulness.
The purpose of a resolution should be the process -
the infinite present moments in which transformation will occur -
rather than waiting for the single instance of its attainment.