One of the greatest barriers to reaching our goals is not knowing what we really want. Often we know what we don’t want – e.g. to stop smoking, lose weight, be less stressed, etc. We define those desires by the absence of something. Instead, when our goals are defined in the affirmative – by what we do want – we set ourselves up for long term success.
“Where focus goes, energy flows.” Tony Robbins
This seemingly minor distinction is key. If you define your goal in terms of the absence of something, your energy will inadvertently go toward what you are trying not to do! Here’s an example: If I tell you NOT to imagine a purple elephant, what do you think of? A purple elephant, of course. Unless you know what to focus on instead, your mind will go to a purple elephant despite your best intentions to the contrary.
The Other Half of the Equation
This may be the most difficult questions I ask my clients. I’ve seen that deer-in-the-headlights look many times. It can be a tough question to answer because we focus so much on our problems. It’s important to know what our problem is, but that’s only half the equation. I will demonstrate with some ‘new math’:
My Problem = My Problem
My Problem + My New Behavior = Change Toward My Desired State
Knowing what your problem is, or in other words, knowing what you want to change, is a great place to start. If you’re struggling with the question “What Do You Want Instead of ____?” then consider these questions:
- What’s the ‘problem’ or thing you want to change?
- How does that problem make you feel?
- How would you rather feel instead?
- What would need to occur to make you feel that way?
Let’s see it in action:
- What’s the ‘problem’ or thing you want to change? My life is out of balance! I want less stress in my life!
- How does that problem make you feel? Frazzled, unorganized, and depleted.
- How would you rather feel instead? Balanced, organized, and present when I’m with my children.
- What would need to occur to make you feel that way? Help with the household chores, figuring out how to have some fun, and maybe saying “No” more often so I have more time with my kids.
You can see that identifying what we’re aiming for, we create a place from which new behaviors can begin to grow. When we’re trying to change our behavior to improve our wellbeing, we must know what we are working toward. After all, if we don’t know where we’re headed, we definitely won’t know how to get there.
Do you have a goal you’ve defined by the absence of something? Do you need help redefining it? Share it here…