When the great explorers like Captain Cook, Sir Edmund Hillary and Neil Armstrong set off to chart new territories, in some cases they had nothing to guide them but the stars, and in Neil Armstrong’s case, he was flying straight at those! What they did have was clear objectives - find new land, climb Everest, or walk on the moon.
In spite of all the current innovations, there is still no technology like Satnav or GPS for navigating the future. Not yet anyway. We still have to find our own ways to identify what it is we care about enough, to aim for in life.
This blog is the second in a series of three. The first one guided you through establishing where you are now. This one is going to cover where you want to go. The third blog will set out how you can make robust plans to get there.
What do you want?
If you are clear about where you’re headed, then that’s great, just make sure that you state it in a positive way. Always state goals in terms of what you do want, not what you don’t.
One of the problems when people wish to give up smoking or lose weight is, they state their goal in negative terms like: “I want to stop smoking,” or “I want to lose 10 pounds.” This doesn’t give them anything to aim for. It really is like jumping into a taxi and saying: “I don’t want to be here!”
You really can’t strive for less of something. You have to state it in terms of what you do want, for example, “I’d like to fit into size X clothes,” or, “I’d like to book a holiday with the money I used to spend on cigarettes.”
For some people, ‘what do you want’, is a tough question. If you are not sure what you want, then maybe you need to start by thinking about what you don’t want. Then you can work out what has to be present to make sure you avoid those things!
Always state your destination in the positive. I’m not sure Christopher Columbus would have got that far had he tried to organise his charts for ‘anywhere but here’!
How will you know you have it?
A great way to really fine tune your destination is to ask what the evidence will be that you have actually arrived:
- What will you see around you?
- Who else will be there?
- What sort of environment are you in?
- What sounds are you hearing?
- What does it feel like?
- How will someone else know you have got there?
- What will they see you doing?
- What changes in you will they be aware of?
If you don’t take the time to work this out, how will you recognise when you get your goals. You could end up continually striving, perhaps beyond the point at which you were happy.
When do you want it?
Not all goals are absolutes, such as climbing Everest. Some involve being more assertive or energetic. So look at what you want, and in each instance, ask yourself when do you want it? Also, where, when and with whom do you not want it?
For example, you might want to have more energy, be someone who gets things done and brushes aside obstacles. This may be great to have at work but do you want to be like this all the time, even for those romantic dates relaxing with your partner?
Is it a good fit for you?
Sometimes we think we want something, or have been told by friends and family for so long that we want it, we daren’t admit we no longer do. Thing is, if you don’t really want it yourself, you will quietly and subconsciously self-sabotage to make sure it doesn’t happen.
Sometimes we lack belief in ourselves or in our right to go for big dreams. As Martha Graeme, dancer and choreographer said:
"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. "
Often, we worry that achieving our dreams will have a negative impact on other important areas of our lives. Will we lose friends? Will our relationships survive? Will we still be ourselves?
Take a moment to ask yourself:
- What would happen if I get this?
- How would it change my life?
- Is there anything I would lose if I get this?
Step into the life you want, imagine you have got there. Immerse yourself in this daydream as if everything you ever hoped for has happened. Now ask yourself:
- Does this life match the person I am deep down?
- Is this exactly where I want to be?
If you come across any issues or concerns about your chosen path, you need to do something about them. If you tried this imaginary future on and didn’t feel comfortable, what needs to change?
If you are worried you might lose important relationships, ask yourself how that could happen? See if there are steps you can take to protect those relationships, in as far as you can. Check in again to see if you now feel more comfortable.
Keep refining your goals until you know this is what you want, and feel excited about getting there.
Who’s driving the bus?
Finally, are all the goals you are setting within your control? There is no point in setting goals for your future that you can’t initiate or maintain.
You need to be able to drive this bus, steer this ship, point this rocket, so you can alter course when you decide.
So grab the wheel and enjoy being the great explorer of your own future.