Success takes time, effort, perseverance & patience.
A few months ago, while vacationing in Palm Springs, California, I decided to hike 4 miles up and down one of the local mountains. The first half of the hike was pretty tough – it was 1.5 miles straight up a vertical incline with short, sharp switchbacks. When I reached the top, I was pretty pleased with myself – my phone told me I had climbed 80 flights of stairs and that I had completed the incline in 45 minutes. The hike down around the side of the mountain was much more comfortable – the terrain still had short, sharp switchbacks, but the very nature of it being downhill made for a much easier hike.
Until, forty-five minutes later, when I reached the bottom of the mountain and discovered that the trailhead abruptly ended in front of an 8-foot barbwire fence, which stretched for miles. The barbwire fencing had a sign indicating that the land beyond the wall was private property and owned by the California government for flood control.
Beyond the fencing, and just a few streets away was the condo where my husband and I were staying.
I stared at the fencing and then back up at the mountain in dismay. Did I really have to hike back up the mountain and then have to climb down the other side just because of an 8-foot barbwire fence? And why was there a well-marked trail indicating to hike this way if you couldn’t get past the fence? Recognising that I did not have enough water with me to reclimb the mountain, I decided to scale the barbwire fence.
Several failed attempts later, and after a great deal of muttering under my breath, I managed to lob myself over the fence relatively unscathed. I was euphoric and silently singing praises to myself for being so resourceful.
That is until I realised that the newly tarmacked road that I was walking down was actually part of an empty private gated community that would, at some point, become a housing development. As I walked past all the vacant lots, I spied a 10-foot electric gate at the end of the road. I groaned. There was not a person in sight who operated the gate, and as I reached the gate, I discovered there was no chance of opening it or climbing over it.
Until…I discovered a 5-foot cement wall with tall box hedging surrounding it on the other side. Determined not to give up, I catapulted myself up and over the cement wall and landed in the hedging on the other side. I had a few minor scratches and cuts on my hand, but overall, I was unscathed.
As I walked back to our condo, I realised that my hiking adventure is an excellent metaphor for how we go about setting and achieving goals.
We often set goals and tactics to realise our ambitions; however, we usually don’t anticipate the bumps and roadblocks (and 8-foot barbwire fences!) that come up along the way.
When these roadblocks arise, implement the following strategies:
“Your dreams become goals when you write them down”
In this goal setting post series, I have outlined two steps:
To change your life, you first have to identify what you need to change. In case you missed this post and would like to download the FREE “Life Review Deep Dive” exercise to help you get clarity, you can revisit the post and exercise here:
Once you have identified what you need to change, there is still one more step you need to take before setting goals. This step is: understanding your motivation for the goals. In case you missed this post and would like to revisit it and download the FREE goals setting exercise, you can access it here:
Now let’s dive into how to set and achieving your goals.
It is essential to set goals that are inspiring and motivating to you while also making you feel stretched. Meaning, the goals you set should feel challenging, yet achievable. If you set goals that do not feel challenging or do not inspire you, the chances are that you will not follow through with trying to reach them. If you think about it, why would you dedicate time and effort towards something that is not that inspiring?
In my own pursuit to implement goals, I initially tried to apply the goal-setting strategies which I was taught throughout my career and education; however, I found that the various acronyms and strategies didn’t work for me. I felt the strategies were missing a key element – which is dealing with potential obstacles.
Most goal-setting acronyms and processes state that:
While I agree these approaches are critical, in my opinion, they fail to cover how to overcome potential obstacles that undoubtedly will arise while pursuing a new goal, and speaking from my own experience, once an obstacle comes along, it’s easy to cease pursuing the goal.
Through much trial and error, I realised that I was much more likely to reach my goal by anticipating potential obstacles and planning for them rather than pretending that there weren’t any hurdles that could prevent me from reaching my target.
I therefore created my own goal acronym:
Below is a detailed explanation of the iTopia acronym:
Review the blog example to see how in practical terms the iTopia acronym can be used to set a new goal:
Use the iTopia acronym to build out your goal(s) by downloading and completing the attached exercises.
Last year I was asked to be a keynote speaker at a 6-day conference in California, and, the conference organiser advised me that the audience size would be 2,000+ people, with the previous headline speakers being Jessica Alba and Benedict Cumberbatch.
Wow! I thought. This will be taking my speaking career to the next level.
The only catch was that none of the 100 speakers invited to speak would be paid. It was positioned that no speakers would be paid because it was an honour to be invited to speak and that the exposure alone would be beneficial to the speakers.
I took a few days to consider the invitation and ultimately decided it was an excellent opportunity and that I would wave my speaking fee and speak at the event.
Fast forward to a few months later, where I regretted my decision and began to feel disconcerted about the whole thing. Poor communication and inadequate information from the conference organiser was the norm, and the limited e-mail’s I did receive made me feel like the conference organisers felt like doing me a favour by having me speak at the conference. All in all, in my gut, I had a feeling– a feeling I couldn’t quite place, which told me that something wasn’t quite right.
Fast forward again to now three weeks before the conference, where I received an e-mail from the conference organiser stating that the conference committee had decided it would be ‘fun’ to change each speakers keynote speech duration from 60 minutes to 15 minutes. The rationale being that they wanted to do ‘speed dating’ type speeches, which they felt would be more entertaining.
My heart sunk.
The keynote they had asked me to give was on my story of burnout and recovery from panic attacks and depression, and I couldn’t see how I could make the speech fun and only 15 minutes. I felt doing so would be a disservice to my audience. I knew there would be audience members going through what I had gone through regarding burnout, anxiety and depression and therefore, to make the speech ‘fun’ and 15 minutes would be woefully wrong.
While my heart sank, that familiar feeling of something not being quite right, kicked in again, however this time I was able to identify the feeling – the feeling was powerlessness. I had given my power away by allowing myself to be treated poorly by the conference organiser, and as such, I was feeling powerless – on the back foot per se.
Recognising this, I knew what I had to do. I had to take my power back.
I e-mailed the conference organiser and advised I would no longer be speaking at the event. And, I added that when liaising with speakers in the future they may wish to consider how they treat their speakers - especially when they are expecting speakers to prepare, write and memorise speeches for free when they themselves are making 3 million dollars through ticket sales.
I took my power back by saying no, this is not acceptable; this does not work for me.
And, I felt like a million bucks for standing up for myself and what I believe in.
Of course, there was a part of me thinking ‘But what about Jessica Alba, Benedict Cumberbatch or one of the other headliners I could be associated with’? But the other side of me – the side of me with a strong sense of self-worth told me it didn’t matter even if the Queen herself was headlining with me. It wasn’t worth giving up my power and self-respect. Nor was it worth doing a disservice to the audience by cramming a comprehensive topic into 15 minutes.
So how did I have the self-confidence to put myself first?
I’ll be honest - I wasn’t born with or raised to be self-confident, it’s a learned behaviour which I taught myself. Watch my video to learn how I taught myself to be self-confident and how you can too.
The key message I would like you to take away from my story is this:
Before setting goals you need to know the
In a previous blog post, I outlined that to change your life, you first have to identify what you need to change. In case you missed this post and would also like to download the FREE “Life Review Deep Dive” exercise to help you get clarity, you can revisit the post and exercise here:
Once you have identified what you need to change, there is still one more step you need to take before actually setting goals. And that is reviewing what your motivation for the goal(s) are. Understanding the motivation behind the goal will help you to determine if the goal that you are setting is for right reasons – i.e. are you setting the goal because you want to or is it because you are seeking approval?
You may be asking yourself who would set goals for approval?
Many people set goals for approval without being consciously aware of their desire for approval.
Refer to the below examples:
These are just a few examples of doing things and setting goals for the approval of others, rather than setting the goals for our own desires.
Therefore, before setting your goals, be sure to take some time and complete the attached pre-goal setting exercise to make sure you are clear on your motivations for the goal.
"Old ways do not open new doors"
Setting goals is imperative to accomplishing our dreams because without setting goals, our dreams are effectively just wishes - a wish being a hope or desire for something to happen. This is a nice thought; however, the reality is that wishes do not manifest our desires. The only way to fulfil our dreams is to set goals and actions that bring our ideas to fruition.
With that said, it’s important to note that before setting goals to change our lives, it is essential first to review and examine what our existing life is like to determine what is and isn’t working. Now, this may sound obvious, however often we do not know what exactly is not working other than the fact that we feel unsatisfied. And, when we do not know precisely what is not working, we end up not knowing where or how to make changes which can lead us to then feeling stuck and in a rut.
Therefore, the first step before setting goals is to identify and understand what needs to change.
To gain this clarity, it is a useful exercise to review the previous 12 months to reflect on any key achievements, learning’s and challenges that we have faced.
If you would like to conduct this exercise, then download and complete the attached “Life Review Deep Dive” exercise to identify what you need and want to change in your life.
Some food for thought:
People often wait until the end of the year to build new goals, but why wait? The start of a new year is not going to make us any more successful in achieving our goals than if we start working on our goals now.
Hi! Welcome to the Mindset Coaching Blog, where I will be sharing with you how to develop healthy habits and empowering beliefs.