What if You don't know what you want?
With New Year Resolutions popping up everywhere, there is a lot of talk about goal setting and goal achievement. Though, someone asked me recently; “What if I don’t know what I want?”
Firstly, let me say that this is totally ok and not at all uncommon. It’s something that comes up a lot in my coaching sessions with clients. You might have the strong sense that things are not quite right or that there is more to life, but you just can’t put your finger on it and you are not sure where to start. That’s ok. Not everybody has a crystal clear vision of what they want their future to be. Also, know that even those who do, change their visions every now and again so it’s not set in stone.
I find that there are mostly two types of people, when it comes to setting goals. The first live very much for the moment, and don’t really have big, long-term plans. They focus more on how they want to live their life, such as, for instance, be more mindful. They take life as it comes from the frame of mind that they wish to be in. This may mean that they feel happier in life, but that they maybe don’t really get to do the things they want to do.
The others are the opposite and have a lot of long-term plans and goals. They focus so much on achieving these goals - out there in the future - that they can become “goal blind” and forget to enjoy the journey!
I suggest looking for a happy medium.
To start with, you may not find the big overall vision for your life, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t work ‘on’ your life and work ‘on’ yourself. You definitely still can.
Sometimes we need to start smaller and create more space in our lives - physically, mentally, spiritually, financially - in order to have the energy, time and capacity to see the bigger picture and create that life.
So, for now, don’t worry about the bigger picture. Focus on where you are now.
Take some time out to look at all areas in your life; Work, family, relationships, money, hobbies, health, personal development, fun etc. These areas will differ from person to person, as we are all different. Look at each area in your life and find one or two things that fit into that ‘it doesn’t feel quite right’ category. Start with something that’s a small-to-medium issue/challenge.
Let’s say, you look at your health, and you know you want to lose weight. This is a specific, measurable goal, with a timeline. You set the target, the timeline and create a plan. It’s always important, when setting goals, that you look at the reason why you do something. This will help you when things get tough and you feel stuck. Remembering why you started can help you stay on track and achieve your goal. So think about what losing that weight will feel like and look like to you. What will it give you? How will it change your life?
By the way, it’s a great idea to write all this down so you can go back and review it later on. Getting your goals and thoughts on paper is also a great way to process your thoughts as well as to commit to the change. Once you are crystal clear on what you want to achieve with the weight loss, what it will give you and when you want to have it achieved by, we can look at another type of goal.
To ensure that you don’t go goal-blind, we can look at another goal connected to how you want to achieve this. This isn’t the specific plan; diet, exercise etc to lose the weight, but instead the emotions that go behind it. This is linked to how it will feel to have achieved the goal. You might have written something like ‘achieving this weight loss will make me feel more confident and happy in myself’. So that, in itself, could be this other goal. As you work towards losing weight, you can also work on increasing your confidence and feeling happier in yourself. In that way, the two become interlinked and it helps you focus on the here and now, as well as the journey, rather than just on some goal in the future.
You might also choose to focus on a goal around mindfulness or ‘enjoying the moment more’. This might mean that you daily take some time to practice mindfulness - perhaps while you run to help your weight loss or while you slowly and mindfully eat the food you have prepared to lose weight. Again, this helps you focus on the journey, the here and now, as well as on achieving the long-term goal.
When you have achieved these goals, and feel more confident and happier in yourself, you will most likely also feel more confident to take on bigger challenges and, by having been aware of the journey to get there, you will probably also know what you want to do next.
This links in to another way of going about this goal setting business, even if you don’t really know what you want (yet). By becoming more aware of your current situation, and by observing how you feel and think about it, it can become clearer what areas needs your attention. If you notice that you feel anxious about going in to work, then maybe you need to look at improving your job situation. If you always feel tired after meeting certain people, maybe you need to reevaluate your relationship to them. Become aware of what is going on in your life and how you are reacting to it.
As mentioned, you may not have a specific long-term goal to start with, so it may be that you need to look at something in your everyday life that is currently making you feel stuck or just ‘not ok’. By improving your situation, or even just one area of your life, you will increase your energy, confidence and capacity. From there, you will be in a much better space to tackle the bigger things and to clearly see where you want to go or be.
So find one thing this week that, however small it may seem, can significantly improve your life.
Start there. Work on that.
Then grow further!
So, what's it going to be?
Let me know in the comments below!