Is it your goal, or someone else’s?

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Often we find ourselves working very hard to achieve something we may have aspired to for some time, perhaps for all our life. Sometimes though, we forget to reassess why we want to achieve that particular goal, what it means to us, and how much we have to invest in it.

Most of the coaching clients I have worked with use the coaching sessions to take some time to reassess the direction they are going in and why. The goals we may have set ourselves when we were younger may be out of step with where we are now, and what our current priorities are… most of us change and develop in different ways as we grow – it’s important to check in with that from time to time.

I worked with one particular client, let’s call him John, who was completing his PhD and who had recently become a dad. He was feeling quite stressed with his job, academic work and the needs of home and family life – finding it hard to motivate himself to do the research and study. We did a visualisation exercise, where he closed his eyes for a few moments to relax and tune in to what he really wanted. He said he’d like to have his own business in maybe five years time, possibly “fixing things”, and described the location and what his office would look like in some detail. When I asked him if he had a PhD at this future point, he immediately replied “No”. John opened his eyes and said, “I can’t believe I don’t want the PhD at all any more…  I just wanted the status of being called Dr. … my brother has a doctorate and I wanted to show that I could do it too, but it’s not really MY goal.”

John subsequently decided to take a break from the doctorate, which he could always resume at a later date if he decided he wanted to. In that moment, he was recognising what was most important to him right in the present – that was prioritising his desire to be a good father and husband. After this session, he found that he was more motivated and focused in work, and able to relax more and enjoy his family life.

So when you’re thinking about a particular goal, or even when you’re a long way towards achieving it, remember to check in regularly with the overall direction you’re taking, and be honest with yourself as to why you want to achieve it – otherwise you may reach it and find that it’s not really where you want to be.

If you don’t set goals for yourself, you are doomed to work to achieve the goals of someone else.” Brian Tracy

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