Saturday, October 19, 2013

Beliefs & Goals

Beliefs. They can be funny things.We all have them. Whether we know it or not.

Some beliefs work in our favour. Others get in the way of achieving all that we can. Beliefs can get in the way of achieving all that we want.

Most people are not conscious of the vast majority of things they believe. But what they believe is present in opinions they form about things, in decisions they make about what they buy or what they do. They are present in the choices not made and decisions not taken.

When it comes to setting goals, it is useful to understand our underlying beliefs.  Setting goals that allow us to achieve those results that are most meaningful and of high value to us should be an easy choice. But we know that isn't the case, since so many goals are never carried out.

Every time we make a decision we make a choice based at some level on a belief.  When there is a decision to be made, doing nothing is a decision. And there's a good chance that there is a belief behind that too.

Let's look at an example.

Sandy wants to "stop procrastinating and become more productive".

But when Sandy sets goals, they don't happen. Instead of taking the actions that will mean that the goal can be reached, Sandy is off being distracted by anything and everything instead of applying the time and attention to those activities that will lead to their goal being completed.

It would be easy to blame procrastination as the culprit.  In reality, procrastination is an activity. We do it.  We do it. Procrastination isn't some being that jumps on us and drags us away.  It is a choice that we make to not do those things that we have to do.

In this case I'd be inclined to think that Sandy has set goals that are not meaningful and it could be that the goals are not really goals, but actions on a to-do list that are not getting done.

An item on a to-do list is not a goal.
It is an item.

It may be an item that needs an action and a good way to approach items that need action is to have  a good strategy for writing these down in specific language with time frames. You can find more on time management on my blog here

A goal, if it is to be useful, should be something important. Not just some vague thing you want to do. It should have some purpose that is worthwhile to you and lead you to a better place than you are now. You can find more on setting goals you can achieve here 

When we set half-assed goals and don't achieve them, we prime ourselves to believe things like:

"Goals don't work."
"I can't do it."
"I'm not as good as others who can make their goals happen"
"Other people get what they want because they are lucky"
"I'm not lucky"
or even
"I don't deserve it"

We can then retreat and find other things to blame for why our life is not the way we would prefer. Blaming other factors is always easier than the uncomfortable feeling that may happen when we consider what our own part in not achieving our goals might be.

When we set goals that we don't do any work to achieve, we may have a secondary payoff. We don't have to do anything different. We don't challenge ourselves, therefor we don't risk trying and then not make it.

Trying and failing, is just trying and failing. It is not failure.

For some, "not trying", means "not failing".

Of course, this is a fallacy.

The truth is, not trying ensures automatic failure. That which we don't even attempt, we cannot complete.

A more healthy and useful approach might be, to do this instead... If it doesn't work exactly the way you want the first time, then you try again. You build on your capacity and you keep trying until you get to where you want to be.  Every attempt brings you closer.  Every bit you learn along the way, brings you a better understanding and a knowledge that you didn't have when you started.

This is the nature of building good habits.

This is also how you build better beliefs. Beliefs that support you and allow you to grow as a person and increase your resilience and your life skills.

Getting to the bottom of our beliefs can be tricky.  Getting help to identify these deeply-held yet invisible beliefs can really expedite matters.


Grab some paper and spend some time considering your beliefs in these areas. Write them down. Don't censor them, just write down the things that come to mind when you think about these topics.

This is what I believe about goals:____________________________

This is what I believe about eating::___________________________

This is what I believe about health:___________________________

This is what I believe about money:___________________________

This is what I believe about family:____________________________

This is what I believe about relationships:_______________________

This is what I believe about me:______________________________

If you'd like to talk to me about what you learn, I'm interested in your feedback.

Related articles on Goals

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