How to Know What You Really Want: The Heart of Goal Setting

We can’t begin goal setting or plotting our course until we know what it is we really want. It seems simple enough. Sometimes though, it’s easy to feel confused about our own desires versus what’s important to our community, family, workspace, and friends. How do we decide what we really want? How do we distinctly see the best path forward when there are competing messages all around us, and sometimes, even in our own minds? The mission of this post is to help you figure out How to Know What You Really Want, which is truly The Heart of Goal Setting.

Let’s focus first on the task of getting into the right state of mind. How do you get most clear? When in your journey, does your thinking become most pure? We’re talking about the times when your thoughts are uninfected by the tangle of modern life. Is it when you:

    • Travel abroad or enjoy a road trip
    • Detox, cleanse, or fast
    • Have time alone to journal
    • Take a walk on the beach or hiking a trail
    • Have time to work on your garden, or your art, or a hobby
    • Arrive at a particular time of day or night, a time when you are most calm or grounded, before sunrise or before you fall asleep

Look back and ask yourself what behaviors, experiences, or times have brought you this clarity. When have you felt most centered and in line with your highest self? Let’s try to reverse engineer that state of mind. Don’t get caught up in the details… especially if that could have you delay. For example, if it’s been a while since traveling or vacationing…and plans to do this aren’t on the horizon… take an afternoon trip to a nearby, unexplored by you, town. Commit to this exercise, even a mini version of it…something you can do in a single afternoon.

You have an inner house, the center of your being if you will, where you are you…without outside interference. That’s the place we would ideally like to do this exercise from. If you can’t seem to get there, don’t let that deter you, move forward nonetheless.

Once you’ve had a chance to get into the right headspace or the best frame of mind, for now, get out some paper, and ask yourself the following:

You love something when you put attention on it. What do you love? What do you actually put your attention on the most and why? What is it providing you? What does that say about why you love this? Who do you love and why? Make a list and move on.

Look back over your life and consider the activities and experiences that gave you the most energy. When did you feel like you were thriving? What elements were in place? Were there people around you? Were you solving particular kinds of problems? Were you using your strategic mind? Were you getting things done? Were you acknowledged? Take down notes and move on.

Now to change gears a bit, when things have gone wrong in your life, in your saddest or most disappointing moments, what went wrong? When did shame ease it’s way in? What do you regret? In what ways do you see yourself having failed? Take a brief inventory and write out themes, then move on.

With these next questions, try your best to answer quickly without overthinking: Who do you want to be? What do you want to feel? What do you want the people closest to you to know about you? Who do you want to have around you? What do you want to be remembered for?

When you are complete with this inventory take a little break. Go for a walk, water your plants, air yourself out. Then when you are ready, come back to this exercise and ask yourself how these answers help you understand what you want. Treat it as if there is no wrong answer. Pay attention the answers that pop out at you or resonate. No need to cover or include everything from your inventory. Bring a lightness, as you ask yourself, what do these answers reveal about what you might want for yourself, for your family, for your community, for your career? Say yes to whatever comes up for you.

This is the beginning. It might be time now to begin a culling process where you sort and prioritize and map out your plan for 2019. It could also be the beginning of your work with a San Francisco or Los Angeles coach, if you feel inspired, read through our coaches bios and easily sign up for a complimentary 25-minute session with one of our career coaches and life coaches. We are here, to support you, in defining what you desire, and to help you achieve what you want for yourself in the New Year 2019.

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