If you spend a lot of time thinking, researching and preparing for big goals, you’re not alone.
We actually call this phase “pre-contemplation” in coaching.
The trick is from moving from this phase to the actual implementation phase. A lot of people wait for the timing to be just right or “for things to settle down.”
Part of the reason that people get stuck in the thinking and researching phase is because it feels safe and comfortable to feel like we’re planning, whereas actually taking action can feel scary or overwhelming.
It’s also because people have internalized some ideas about setting and achieving goals that may not actually be true for them.
So today, I want to help you get into the mindset for action by dispelling some myths on goal setting + goal achieving.
Myth #1: You have to know what you want to get started.
I think that this comes up because SMART goal setting, where you have a specific, measurable goal, is a really popular goal setting strategy.
And I love this approach, really. Specificity and clarity are really important in the long run.
But specificity and clarity are not that important to just get started.
You don’t have to know exactly what you’re looking for to get started.
But you might have to get started to figure it out.
Maybe you want to see your friends more. Maybe you want to try a new hobby or something. Maybe you want a new job but you’re not sure what exactly.
It’s not uncommon to not know what you want.
If something feels like it’s missing or isn’t a good fit, you can start to figure out what you want by making some changes right away.
Keep track of what feels like it’s working and, of course, what doesn’t.
It feels counterintuitive but once you start making some moves, you can start to actually carve out your goal and become more specific over time (which is definitely preferable to never starting at all!)
Myth #2: There’s no way that you can achieve your goal unless you are all in.
It’s totally possible to have goals that are maybe not as much of a priority as some others, to be pursuing something on the side, just for fun or out of curiousity.
In fact, I encourage it!
For my clients, that often looks like yoga, travel or other things that they want to do but struggle to do as often as they’d like.
But it might also be career exploration or health related goals. It’s really anything that’s an important part of your vision for your life but isn’t necessarily a priority right now.
You can pursue your goals slowly and leisurely.
Sure, the results might be slower, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not worth doing.
If there’s something that you’re interested in but you know you can’t fully commit, committing to explore is still a worthwhile goal.
Myth #3: You’ll either achieve your goal or not.
I know that sounds silly because probably you’ll achieve your goal or not, right? It seems inevitable.
But you might reach a point in the process where you’re really pleased with the outcome or results you’ve already achieved.
Maybe you thought you’d end up in a certain kind of job in a certain kind of place and another job surprised you.
Give your goals some breathing room.
Even if you have a really specific goal, you’re still really exploring that as part of the process.
You don’t need to worry if you get to a point that’s not what you envisioned but you’re happy with it.
Then you can end it there or you can pause it there, enjoy it, re-assess and see if it works for you over the long run.
Myth #4: Everything will be perfect once you achieve your goal!
Yeah…this one’s just not true.
Often, achieving big goals changes many things in our life but it usually doesn’t change everything.
Some people get their dream job and find that there are still a lot of challenges.
Sometimes it feels like you’re always fighting against something, but the truth is, there’s just always going to be an opportunity to have new goals and to have new challenges.
I think that that’s the mindset that people going into new jobs, especially jobs they’re really excited about, have to be prepared for.
There’ll always be a challenge to maintain what you achieved or to achieve new things.
It’s also okay, especially in our personal lives, just take a time out from goal setting and planning and just enjoy where we are right now. There might be a point where your priorities shift – and that’s okay too.
Myth #5: You can’t change your mind once you get started.
What if the change we’re looking for is not what it’s cracked up to be?
Good news: even if you accomplish what you want and you find out, “Hey, this is not what I was hoping for. It doesn’t feel the way I thought it would,” you can move on.
I know that sounds like a lot of work, and that’s not what people who are setting big, ambitious goals necessarily want to hear.
But it will be what you want to hear if you end up in a situation where you’re like, this is not what I want.
Give yourself permission to say, “This is not what I thought it was going to be like and I want something else.”
That’s really powerful and it teaches you a lot about yourself. It doesn’t take away any of the hard work that you spent trying to move to the next process.
Goal setting is inherently an exploratory process.
Instead of thinking about goal setting and achieving in black and white – identify some possible gray areas.
Prepare to make shifts, take breaks and to re-assess along the way.
If you’re interested in talking more about this, you can join the Work Wonders Coaching community on Facebook. We have a Work Wonders Career Design Lab and Studio.
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