Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Dreams and Goals


Back in September I wrote about "Making Changes" referencing stages of change. With New Year just around the corner I have decided to share specific steps for creating goals as stepping stones for reaching your dreams. How many times have your created a New Years resolution which landed on the floor with a thud after a few weeks. New Years resolutions usually don’t work because they depend on sheer will power and lack a clear road map and support system for creating change.


Steve Wells is a psychologist from Australia who uses Emotional Freedom Techniques as a key tool for achieving and sustaining Peak Performance in business, sports, relationships and life (http://www.eftdownunder.com/). He suggests the following exercise as a way to generate goals and to gain insight into your levels of commitment. If you want to play along, complete the following statements with the first thoughts that come to your mind (brainstorming).

  • “I wish………...”

  • “I want ……….”

  • “I plan to …….”

  • “I will………….”

  • “I am………….”

The above exercise takes you through the several layers of commitment involved with reaching your goal. Most of us struggle with the phase of taking and sustaining action (“I will”). Dr. Wells states, “goals are dreams with a deadline.” The following is an adaptation of information you can get from his website listed above. I have found his steps a helpful road map for setting a course of creating change and getting unstuck.

Step 1 to Peak Performance: Decide!
Decide to commit yourself to a high goal or ideal.

Step 2 to Peak Performance: Break through the Barriers.
Overcome your limiting ways of thinking about what is possible for you. Learn and use EFT to eliminate mental and emotional barriers.

Step 3 to Peak Performance: Goal Setting.
Set goals that will inspire you to reach for the best.

Step 4 to Peak Performance: Values Clarification
Make sure that you are climbing a ladder that is leaning against the right wall. Ensure that your goals will help you to achieve your most important values.

Step 5 to Peak Performance: Organized Planning.
Needed knowledge and preparation is what separates those who are committed from those who are only interested. Map out your chosen path. Identify role models and mentors and model their success.

Step 6 to Peak Performance: Commitment.
You must decide that you want this enough to take the next step and plan for it to happen. Real commitment though comes from the decision that you will do whatever it takes to make it happen.

Step 7 to Peak Performance: Consistent Action
Get started - Do the first thing first. Take action towards your goals - don't let another minute go by before you take a step, no matter how small. Then persist - This is the quality of true champions.

My Thoughts
In my experience it has been helpful to have a mentor, life coach, friend or therapist to help keep on track. Emotional Freedom Technique (see my Oct. entry on "Emotional Freedom") is an important tool for dealing with the emotional and mental blocks that emerge as you start to think about or make changes. I met with an Executive Coach for over a year when I shifted to self-employment and opened my therapy/consulting practice. The coaching process was helpful in identifying limiting beliefs and negative self talk. It helped to create a plan, to set goals and stay on track. Negative beliefs can create the largest obstacles to achieving your dreams. As I write this, it becomes apparent that it is time to engage in assessment and put to paper another "dreams and goals" road map. Maybe I will give Steve Wells a call :)

Monday, December 10, 2007

"Love Actually...."

Four years ago a movie was released entitled “Love Actually.” It is a Christmas romance comedy that interconnects twelve different love stories. The story reminds us that in spite of all the contradictory evidence, “love actually is all around us.” At the end of the movie many folk spontaneously clapped and cheered. What was all of the clapping about? Folk were celebrating that hope, good will and love won out in the end. People are looking for a message that hope is more enduring than despair and that mean spiritedness will eventually succumb to love.

My favorite scene at the end of the movie was the spontaneous proposal of the writer to the woman from Portugal. Catching his wife in the act of adultery, he moves to a self imposed exile over in Europe. While focused on the task of writing the final chapters of his book, he becomes enamored with his housemaid (a connection is made in spite of the language barrier). The evolving connection is severed when the writer returns to his homeland in the United States. We see him arriving on Christmas Eve, to be with his extended family. After stepping across the doorway, placing his gifts on the floor, he comes to himself and chooses (much to their protest) to fly across the world to propose to a woman who doesn’t speak his native tongue. Sometimes the heart communicates in ways that transcend spoken words.

During the movie I was caught up in the romance, hope and risk of “throwing all caution to the wind.” A day later, I was reflecting on the movie and knew there was a message within these stories that extends beyond the typical bromides of this season.

The end of the movie provided a kaleidoscope of images of everyday folk expressing affection, love to friends and family members. The message “love actually is all around us” is one of hope. Meister Eckhart, Christian mystic and author, stated that gratitude is the beginning of all conversions. Paradoxically when we become more grateful for the loving relationships’ that surrounds us, we actually increase the number of loving relationship in our life and world.

Solution / Possibility Oriented therapist frames being grateful in terms of “Noticing.” It is a simple activity of changing your view of the problem to a view of the desired solution or future. Instead of seeking deep-dish explanation for life’s problems’, choose to focus on what you want to attract and spend time counting (like the old math counters) or noticing when it begins to multiply (even the smallest of changes).

“Noticing” flows from the idea that we tend to create more of what we pay attention to in our lives (brain research indicates that we can become neurologically addicted to both our thoughts and feelings). If you want more love in your life, then dedicate yourself to focusing on and noticing the love that currently is around you. It is easier to state than to put into practice. Sometimes when obstacles show up we need a friend, or therapist to support us in the journey.