I woke up from a near nightmare this morning. ‘Near’ only because in the midst of the troubled waters where I found myself, help came from unexpected quarters. What a relief, to wake up and find it was just a dream… and in any case, deliverance did come in the nick of time. Phew!
As I made my way downstairs for the obligatory cup of tea, my eye caught something I had written and stuck to the wall – a goal which I haven’t yet attained, although the date I assigned to it has come and gone. I only looked at it momentarily, and almost immediately – I guess before I could get discouraged – I heard me say on the inside, “Don’t Stop Believing” (and of course I’ve had the Glee version of the song in my head all day).
Glee 1: Don’t Stop Believing
Glee 2: Don’t Stop Believing
It got me thinking today about goals and beliefs. (I must say I didn’t always like the word ‘goal’. I preferred ‘outcome’… now I’m fine with both!)
One of the reasons some give for not setting goals (or having targeted desired outcomes) is the disappointment they experience when they don’t achieve them by the set date. So they would rather just ‘see what happens’. And for them, not achieving goals tends to be seen as a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’.
My response to that usually is, as long as it is really important to you, it is your own goal (not somebody else’s for you or one you think you ought to have, it’s realistic for you, you are doing everything you can towards it) then the journey towards it in itself is already a positive outcome. And in any case as it is your own goal, set by you, for you and controlled by you, certainly feel the disappointment – that is natural. Then do something about it! For instance, you could readjust the date or tweak the goal anyway you like. That is to say, the fact that you have a goal that is personal, positive, present and in writing, doesn’t mean that it is inscribed in stone! It is your goal, which you set to support you, not to enslave you!
For me, the pros of having goals far outweigh the cons. For instance, what about the pride and joy you experience when you achieve your goal by the set date, sometimes way before the set date? Sometimes it’s even a greater accomplishment than you even dared to set out to achieve! By trying to avoid pain and disappointments, we also miss out on pleasure and pleasant surprises…
So, how does belief come in? Self-belief is a vital ingredient in setting and achieving our goals. If we don’t believe we can achieve them, then we won’t set goals. Or if we do, we won’t work towards them. We could start out by believing we could. Then life throws us some curve balls and takes us off track and we are further away from the goal by the due date than we were at the beginning of the whole process. If our self-belief isn’t solid, if we don’t know how to dig deep and stand firm, if we don’t know how to reach out when we’re drowning, then we’d simply let it all crumble around us – and we’d probably crumble along with it too!
It is a different matter if we looked objectively at a current situation and chose to give up a particular goal for no longer being realistic or even desirable. That is fine, that is empowering, that is exercising choice. But rolling over and playing dead isn’t.
Do you have skeletons of side-tracked goals rotting away in your closet? Find the belief you need to re-examine them; make a decision about what you want to do with each one of them. And, as long as you are being true to yourself and your beliefs are empowering you, don’t stop believing!