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goal setting – and stretching yourself

Perhaps a little surprisingly, those times in your life that are passive, receptive and relaxing will probably not turn out to be your very best moments. Happiness tends not to just happen. We, each of us, instead usually cultivate it for ourselves by setting ourselves challenges of various levels. Maybe it is for this reason that so many of us, in our spare time, play games, take up a sport or adopt a hobby.

To be most effective, our challenges should be neither too simple nor too demanding for our abilities. The eminent Hungarian psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who was the founder and co-director of the Quality of Life Research Center, has suggested that our best moments usually occur when we stretch our body or mind to its limits so as to accomplish something worthwhile.

Goal setting, in providing you with a clear roadmap for the future, is an important element to both your success and to your enjoyment of life. The setting of goals facilitates a focus for your achievement and supports that process of stretching yourself so as to accomplish something different. Of course it can produce highly desirable results, but you may find that even the process itself is a motivating one that serves to increase your commitment, enhance your productivity and even bolster your self-esteem.

It may be tempting to set a goal for just a single aspect of your life, especially if you feel that it is an all-important area or an area that requires a particular focus at this time. There is, of course, nothing wrong in doing that, but it is worth considering that a well-balanced person will not focus for too long exclusively on just one particular area to the exclusion of all others. For you to remain both emotionally and physically healthy, it is important to ensure that all your basic needs are properly met.

These needs will probably include a need for comfort, security, friendship and a meaning in life. For this reason, your personal goals should ideally cover those areas of life that will most affect these. Some coaches suggest that goals be divided into the following broad categories:

  1. Family and Home
  2. Financial and Career
  3. Spiritual and Ethical
  4. Physical and Health
  5. Social
  6. Cultural / Mental / Educational

Because, a mindfulness practice promotes an acceptance of your situation - just as it is, and a living-in-the-moment (rather than in the past or future), you may argue that the concept of goal setting goes somewhat against some of its fundamental principals. I do believe that there is actually no real contradiction here. On the contrary, it is not possible for you to actively change certain aspects of your life without first accepting just how things are at present, and the reality of your greater situation.

Having your personal history and memories to call upon, and having an intention to accomplish something worthwhile, may be important aspects of your present reality. Without allowing yourself to be hijacked by them, it is helpful to accept them as such. I find it interesting that a state of flow, which is a mindful state that can serve to help you remain grounded in the here and now, in itself requires challenging, clear, well-defined goals as a necessary ingredient.

Please read steps to effective goal setting as well as the page on achieving flow. Alternatively, feel free to contact me with any questions you may have related to this topic.

The combination of coaching, mindfulness and hypnotherapy can be a most effective one in creating real change in your life. Should you perhaps feel you could do with some help in setting your own life goals, or would like my support in overcoming a particular block you may be experiencing, it might be an idea to make an appointment to see. As always, I shall only charge should you go on to actually work with me in the future.

 

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c h r i s

You can't connect the dots looking forward you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something: your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well-worn path.

Steve Jobs (1955 - 2011), Stanford Commencement Address, 2005