Do you follow your bliss?
As a teacher – trainer and coach – setting goals and achieving them has been an integrated part of my work and personal life. Over time I realized one of the most important indicators to success is to follow your bliss.
If you feel that is a hard thing to do in an environment that asks you to achieve specific goals that you may not consider blissful – like in a school, study or work environment – you may not have taken enough steps back to get a broad overview. Or maybe you have outgrown the place you are in. I will explain that below.
If you feel that you set goals that you believe you really want, but you are not able to achieve them, you may have started with the wrong goal. Especially if you blame it on circumstances or lack of personal abilities and discipline, that can be a good indicator that your basics were off.
The basic mistakes in setting goals
We are all familiar with New Year’s Resolutions and with the fact that many, if not most, are abandonned before the end of January. How can that happen? The same factors are at play as with any goal setting. One of the following scenarios might be the case:
Your goal is not really your goal
We all fall prey to this one if we aren’t alert. I know I have been falling into this trap before. We set a goal because we feel we “should” set that goal. We follow expectations of other people or society. And even though the goal seems like something we want, we forget some very important reflections.
Imagine the people around you are sport fanatics and tell you all the time that you should go to the gym. But you don’t really like that. Yet their remarks set you into that direction and you think “Yes, I should exercise more, I could use that. I really should go to the gym.” So you set that goal and off you go to the gym to become a member. You go for a week or two and then you have the first excuse… The beginning of failure towards your goal.
Is this really your goal or are you adopting the goals of other people? How can you ever consistently follow a direction that isn’t yours to begin with? So the first question is: Is this what I really want?
Your goal is not the real goal
Often we are too quick in setting our goals. We think we want to do or achieve something specific and we go for it. But what seems to be a goal, might only be a means to an end.
Going to the gym seems to be a real goal. But it isn’t. It is a a way to get towards a goal. There is a bigger desire behind that. When we fail a goal that we think we want, it is time for some introspection.
The real goal behind going to the gym may be to move more or to get more energy or to change your weight or body shape. If you find the core desire, you can start looking at it from a different angle.
You may want to move more. In that case taking your bike and go for a ride every day may be more in alignment with your preferences. Or walking, doing Qi Gong, going for a swim every morning – there are always multiple options when it comes to the “how”. Before that how comes the “what”. So the second question to ask is: Am I clear about what my true desire is?
Your goal comes only from the mind
So let’s assume you know what you want to do and how you want to achieve it and there still seems to be something blocking the real passion.
You know you love swimming in the morning and you have always been an early riser and yet it seems hard to commit? Then there may be some nagging feeling or subtle inner voice whispering that there is something missing your goal. It can be that your goal only has what I call the “mind” component covered. There is also the “heart” component.
Your mind knows that it likes swimming and that it is the best way to move more and exercise. But where is the drive behind that? Why did you want that to begin with? What “is in it for you” when you do this? You may want it because you love to do great things with your children and be more fit to do that. You may like to go skiing with friends and want to be in good shape before the season starts so that you can keep up with the group this time. You may experience that being healthy and fit adds value to your life.
If you answer the third question: Why do I want this, how will this make me feel when I achieve it? you will have the third important component covered.
Your goal is right but something else is more important
Then there is a last aspect that hardly anybody talks about and that is how your goals relate to your values. What if being healthy and fit is a real value to you, but you have another core value that ranks higher that you don’t live?
In our example all is well and you know why you want to be fit and healthy and how to achieve that best and yet you are still sabotaging. It can be that there is something very subtle at play, something that has nothing to do with the goal, but that undermines your efforts to fully go for it.
Imagine for example that you have the relationship with your family as a very important value in your life. You have a partner and two wonderful kids and so far your days have started with connecting with your partner and kids. Nothing really shocking, just little conversations, talking about the day ahead, getting ready for the day. Now that you want to go for a swim, that changes.
You may think that is not a problem, because there are other moments to connect like the family dinner at night. But on a subconscious level you may very well feel that you are neglecting something else that is important in that specific time frame – and maybe even more important than accomplishing the goal.
The last questions to ask will thus be: Is this the right moment for this action towards my goal? and Are there core values that I feel I am neglecting when I follow this path?
With all these questions answered you will be able to find the why, what and how in all important areas of your life. And you will be following your bliss.
The order in goal setting
If you have read the above, you may have noticed that I somehow tackled goal setting in a reverse order. Yet that is what I see many people do. They go for a specific activity instead of the goal behind it. And if they get to the goal behind it, they may have other priority values that they don’t give a place in their lives. Which can lead to distraction or not feeling complete.
The best way to set goals for life is to start with the big picture and work from there.
- What are my core values, what is important for me to live a fulfilling life?
- Why is this important for me, what will I get out of this?
- What will be the goals that go with this?
- How can I achieve these goals in the best possible way that is in alignment with my preferences?
Something interesting will happen when you do this. If you have this big picture as a blueprint for life, you have clarity about what is valuable to you. You may have moments in which you get off track, but the big picture is strong enough to pull you back in.
It is even strong enough to overcome roadblocks, to guide you through hard moments, to do the things that come with your goal that you may not like very much. If the swimming pool closes and there is no other one near, you will find another way to stay fit in our example.
And that also leads back to the first situation, being in an environment where goals should be met that other people set for you. If you know why you have taken on a specific study, you will learn for the exams even when you don’t feel like it and something more fun for the moment pops up.
If you are in the right working environment, you will take the tasks that come with it. Or you may feel like starting a conversation to change things for the better for everyone involved – work environments should have their values and guiding principles in place as well.
If you have that broad perspective and the overview over the core values in your life, you will also be much more aware of the moment in which change is needed. You may have outgrown your present working environment, it may be time for the next step in your career. Or it may be that you want to take another direction alltogether.
So follow your bliss!
We are all different and unique and that is beautiful. It also means that no other person can know what your goals should be. It’s up to each and everyone of us individually to find out. And that is why the core question for me for everyone that is struggling with goals will always be: Do you follow your bliss?
Have a day filled with clarity and bliss! – Margot
PS If you are into astrology and like to consider that angle when setting goals, you may like the Conscious Calendar. Follow the link to check it out for free.
You may like this article for a big picture: Decorating the cake (no it’s not about cooking… it’s about the cake of life…)