Updated: Jan 9, 2020
Sure. Writing down goals, such as the New Year’s resolutions many of us have made, can help heighten our focus and get some things done but, are they really effective at getting us to where we truly want to be?
Even the renowned SMART goals lack the all important context of purposeful meaning and connection to personal values. Isn’t that what motivates us mortals? Even when achieved, goals can leave you feeling empty and unfulfilled. That’s not very good.
Goal setting is what most of us use to solve a problem. You first set a goal and then you keep going until the problem is resolved. If you’re making progress fine, but if you’re not, your problem solving becomes problem involving. That’s very bad.
You try harder, go nose-to-the-grindstone, force your way through the stress, take massive action, and increase actions until you achieve the desired results. How exhausting!
The tendency to get excessively involved with the problem aspect of goals stems from their inherent rigidity. They are fixed and firm. This causes us to get attached to the problem. Cognitive researchers call this fixation.
“As long as [the problem solver] insists on struggling for solutions, [he] becomes fixated on inappropriate strategies remaining attached to the problem”*
Our brain clings to strategies that are not giving us the desired results. That’s very, very bad.
Once fixated, overwhelm, frustration and confusion follow. Any remaining fragments of optimism for reaching the goal are replaced with self-judgment, feelings of incompetence, and inadequacy. Confidence is lost. That’s ugly indeed!
What to Do?
1. Keep Your Why in Mind - Include purposeful meaning and values into your goals and you’ve taken the first step at transforming bad and ugly goals into a power intention statement. Having a meaningful purpose keeps your mind on what matters most; and the benefits you and others will enjoy from what you are creating.
2. Enjoy the Process - Since goals are all about the future, they divorce you from the precious present moment. By writing your intention statement in a present moment (not future!) context, you will be in the present and then you can enjoy the process. Include “I am” action statements that affirm your movement like, “I am taking steps to…” and “I am getting things organized.”
3. Keep Your Confidence Up by adding actions you’ve taken and achievements you’ve accomplished into your intention statement. Don’t think that only monumental achievements are successes. Any action you’ve chosen to take and have acted upon qualifies.
4. Keep it Dynamic - Both #2 and #3 show that an intention is not a static goal but a dynamic and evolving creation. Making revisions regularly and often keeps your intention statement deeply stimulating and engaging.
5. Eliminate Rigidity - There are many ways to achieve your ambitions. Be flexible and try on new approaches.
6. Stop! When you begin to feel stuck and find yourself struggling, immediately step away. Changing your environment will help you avoid fixation. The researchers encourage you to detach; allowing yourself time to incubate…
“… disengagement, which is the incubation phase, enables the “forgetting” of misleading clues that persist as long as we insist on struggling for solutions"*
7. Take It A Step Further And Increase Your 'AHA!' Quotient - Do something that brings you emotional buoyancy and energy. Enjoying yourself increases the likelihood that your “incubation phase” will bring you to the “illumination phase” where fresh and brilliant new ideas will dawn on you!
8. Now Turbocharge It! Elevate your enjoyment and accelerate results by joining with others. Give and receive support and your intentions will be incredibly rewarding and a lot more fun. Now that’s truly great!
Include these 8 ingredients and you are well on your way to keeping the ugliness of overwhelm, frustration, and confusion at bay and sail smoothly along with competence and confidence.
Would you like to Say Goodbye to Struggle And Say Hello To Grace And Ease? If so, please join us on this free interactive TeleWebinar.
*Ward, “Creativity.” In Encyclopaedia of Cognition, edited by L. Nagel (New York: Macmillan,2003); see Steven M. Smith, “Fixation, Incubation and Insight in Memory and Creative Thinking.” In Steven M. Smith, Thomas B. Ward, and Ronald A. Finke. The Creative Cognition Approach (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1995).