Week Seven / Day One – Moving on from the Reality step to the Aim Step

 

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It’s time to get excited because you are about to recreate your life!!

Now that you have learnt a lot about accepting the reality of a troublesome situation and have learnt how to look at that situation from a different, more expanded perspective, it’s time to start doing something about that situation.

Because even though you are able to accept the situation, as mentioned, this is only the second step of the TRACK process.  So now with that acceptance you move onto step three of the TRACK Process – Aim.

The reality is that challenges will occur, both in motherhood and in most other areas of your life.  It is the way that you accept and handle these challenges that will make a difference to your level of overall happiness about your life.

If you allow challenges to be bigger than what they are then you become consumed by them and they will start to define your existence.  If you acknowledge their presence, put yourself into learn and grow mode and be graceful about the fact that, once again it’s time to experience something challenging, then you will already be looking at this situation in a different way.

Setting an aim helps you to attack these challenges with a solution focussed attitude that doesn’t allow you to be consumed by it.

The trouble is that most people don’t ask themselves what they want.  They are way too focussed on what isn’t happening and what they are not getting in their lives.  Their attention is fixed on seeing what’s wrong and resisting that their life is not going ‘right’.

‘I’m having trouble breastfeeding’.  ‘My child won’t sleep’.  ‘This is not the way motherhood was supposed to be’.  ‘I didn’t have a natural, easy labour.  I had a caesarean’.  ‘My husband won’t help me’.  ‘I’m tired of being a stay at home mum and feeling bored and purposeless’.

But what if you put your attention on learning more about how to breastfeed, knowing that it is a skill that you need to practice at and that it is something that you may never have done before and will take some newfound knowledge in order to successfully master this skill?

What if you keep your attention focussed on finding a sleep technique that suits your child?  What if you put your attention on how you can work with your current situation and create motherhood to be the way you would like it to be?  What if you put your attention on the healthy baby you now have (after the caesarean) and cultivating a special relationship with that child ?  What if you set the aim to work on your relationship instead of disliking what is happening within it?  What if you set the aim to find interesting things to do while you are staying at home with your child and doing things that inspire you while you are looking after your children?

We will rarely enjoy tough times or some of the challenges that come into your life, but the reality is that they do come into our lives and are enormously valuable, for they are the very times that you learn from and they propel you to other life experiences and help you to another level of understanding about yourself and life.

It is also an opportunity to shift your focus onto what you want.  This is what we will start to do in the AIM step of the Mind TRACK to Happiness process.

Focussing on what you want gives you somewhere to go.  It keeps you moving ahead.  Your attention is on what’s coming not what’s already been and gone.

The True Purpose of Setting Aims

When we set goals we often believe that achieving them is the purpose of setting them in the first place.  While achieving goals is the agenda for setting goals, it is not the true purpose of setting goals. 

When you set a goal, you essentially set life in motion.  Just by setting the goal you are changing the way your life unfolds and how your life contributes to how other people’s lives unfold.  By setting goals you learn new things, have new experiences and add to your knowledge of life, which ripples out to other aspects of your life.

There is a flow on affect that occurs when we all set goals that is bigger than the achievement of goals.  The way towards your aim is filled with experiences that add to your journey, your unique ‘story’ of life, and adds to those around you.

For example, setting the aim to teach your child not to tantrum puts your attention into the direction of finding ways to deal with that tantrum.  By implementing what you have learnt you are teaching your child the consequences of having tantrums.  When you implement your plan in the shopping centre, this contributes to onlookers who may be observing what you are doing and taking it on for their own lives at some level.  By teaching your child not to tantrum you are contributing to the person he/she will become and changing the course of how their life unfolds. 

Perhaps you went onto a chat forum and asked other mothers for advice on how they are dealing with tantrums.  Those ladies who are contributing this knowledge may feel good about themselves that they were able to pass on information from their experiences and you may have just completely change their day.  Perhaps they were having a bad day where they felt useless or like they had no purpose, however because you had an aim and sought out help on this forum and one lady was able to give you her advice, she now sees that her challenges have been beneficial and feels good about herself.  Because she feels good about herself, she then handles her child’s tantrum without anger and finds a better way of approaching it, which adds to her child’s life.

We will never know how our life is going to affect another person and just by setting goals we set the wheels in motion to contribute more of ourselves to the world around us and grow and learn as a human being.

It doesn’t matter whether you get the goal or don’t get the goal.  There is value in both because just having a goal contributes to the unfolding of life.

That doesn’t mean that you won’t still set goals with the intention of achieving them, it just means that you no longer need to attach your self-worth or your life’s worth to the achievement of these goals.

This is really important to someone who does depression because they are conditioned to believe that the achievement of goals, or getting life ‘right’ (meaning that I must achieve my life’s aims), is what defines self-worth, so if they don’t achieve these things they begin to feel like a failure.

Every situation has value because of the learning it brings and how it contributes to your life.  On the way to the goal, when you get to the goal AND if you don’t get to the goal, there is always learning and contributing going on.

So if you don’t achieve what you want, this brings us back to the points from the reality step:  Find the hidden good in the bad, see what you are getting instead of what you missed out on.

We will always set goals in order to get what we want in life and to experience what we would like to, however these aims to not define our self-worth.

With this information, a depression sufferer (who has given up on life because they have not achieved something they expected to) can begin setting goals again, with this new understanding that we set goals to experience and learn about life, not to define our self-worth.

So how do I begin setting goals?

This week is all about how to set aims in our life, although it’s not going to be as boring as that sounds.  We are going to do it a little bit differently than traditional goal setting techniques.

We are going to use the reality thinking model as a guide to setting up aims that work on the smaller picture first (the situation) and expanding out to the bigger picture (aims for being a parent,aims for your life and aims for your self-worth).

Setting aims for a difficult situation is very helpful as you feel like you are doing something about your immediate problems.  However as you go on this journey of achieving this goal, as usual there will be ups and downs.

By setting aims that are in alignment with how you want to be as a parent, what you want for your life and how you want to feel about yourself, you keep these highs and lows in perspective with your bigger picture aims.  This will stop you getting consumed by the challenges you face when achieving your situation goals.

I recently came across a woman named Celestine Chua who wrote “How to successfully achieve Any Goal” (www.celestinechua.com).  She explains the difference between objective goals and activity goals which will help you to understand why I believe it is important to set aims that expand your attention towards the bigger picture, not just focussing on the present situation.

She says:

“Objective goals are your vision behind activity goals. Activity goals are specific end outcomes which you are more familiar with, such as lose 10lbs or earn $10,000.

Examples of objective vs activity goals are: Be healthy vs lose 20 lbs. Foster strong relationships vs Spend more time with family. Have an enriching, fulfilling career vs get a job as a financial trader. Living in abundance vs increasing income by $500.

Objective goals are the visions you want to pursue forever in your life rather than end destinations. Activity goals are means to achieve those visions.

Objective goals usually remain the same throughout your life.  Activity goals change over time.”

When we set goals to improve our present situation in life (for example, tantrums, money issues, relationship issues etc) we are essentially setting activity goals.  These activity goals will be the aims you set to help you through your present situation.

However, during this week you are also going to set aims about how you would like to be as a parent, what you want for your life and how you want to be as a person (your self-worth).  These will be your objective goals.

Let me show you why setting both objective and activity aims are important:

Let’s say that after finishing this week you had set the activity goal (the situation’s aim) to work on some relationship issues that you have.  After finishing this week, you have also set some objective aims about the type of parent you want to be, what you want for your life and how you want to be as a person (self-worth).

They are:

Parenting aims:    A good role model for my kids, be calm, be able to teach them how to look at life’s ups and downs with a healthy mindset.

Life Aims:                 To have harmonious relationships with others, enjoy my life, continue to seek new experiences that fulfil me and excite me.

Self-worth Aims:  To be respected, to respect myself, to feel confident, to love myself and speak kindly to myself.

Now that you have set these aims, you continue on the TRACK process and establish how you are going to achieve the situation’s aim and have a plan in place. 

However along your way towards achieving this goal of working on your relationship issues you have a conversation with your husband about a new agreement that you would like to make between you and it escalates into an argument.  You start shouting at each other, and what’s more you are doing this in front of the kids.  The conversation is getting quite heated and you begin calling each other names and being nasty to each other.

Is this situation meeting your objective aims, meaning your parenting aims, your life’s aims or your self-worth aims?

You wanted to be a good role model for your children.  Is this back and forth, name-calling doing that?  Is fighting in this way meeting your life aims of having harmonious relationships with others?  Are you being respectful to yourself and being respected in this situation like you wanted in your Self-worth aims?

Having these bigger picture aims give you a reference point to gauge your life events against.  You are consistently aiming for your life to meet these objective goals (the bigger picture aims) so you can use them to continue to question whether your life is aligning to these aims or not.

If they are not, then it’s simply an indication that some changes need to be made to the way you are approaching your situation’s aims.  So remember it’s not about you being worth-less if these objective goals are not being met. The objective goals are things that you continually strive for and so you find more ways of improving that and you can use your situation’s aims to compare them against whether it’s meeting your bigger picture goals.

It’s really just like setting aims that are in alignment with your values, except you are being very specific about your values by categorising them into the aims for being a parent, for your life and for your self-worth.

Two questions to ask yourself when setting your Aim

In order to set aims that are going to serve you well and lead you away from stress, depression and anxiety in the future there is also another element to this aim setting process that we need to consider, and that is your motives for setting the aims that you do.

Because your current habitual thinking has the tendency to think stressful, depressive or anxious thoughts, it is important to consciously analyse your aims as you set them and ask yourself two key questions about these aims.

The first question is – Why do I want this aim?

As we learnt last week, our priorities are governed by our beliefs, so if your habitual thinking is to access beliefs that cause stress and are in conflict with the realities of life and self-worth, then while you are working on changing these habitual beliefs, you need to continue to be conscious of your choices and decisions to make sure that they are in alignment with reality.

By asking yourself ‘Why do I want this aim?’ you are asking yourself what your agenda is for achieving this goal.  What do I think that I will get out of achieving this aim?  Every decision we make and action we take will be a priority to protect our self-worth or increase it, because we are constantly on the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain and rating our lives in accordance of whether we are receiving this or not.

With this in mind, what you will find is that all of your aims will be aimed at making yourself feel good. There is nothing wrong with this, but what we want to test, is that you are not feeling worth-less because of what is happening right now and also that you don’t attach your self-worth to the achievement of this goal.

Remember there is value in everything so no situation is lacking in benefits to some degree.  Yes, you will want to improve or change situations that are challenging you and pursue an outcome that will help you to enjoy life again, but you must always be conscious of any thinking that is resisting what is currently happening and making you feel like your life is going wrong, that you are missing out or that you are worth-less because it is happening.

This is why steps one and two of the Mind TRACK to Happiness process are the foundation of this entire process.

By asking yourself ‘Why do I want this (aim)’ you can assess your responses and see if you answers are in conflict with reality of self-worth and need to be upgraded or not.

The second question that you need to ask in order to assess your aim is; Is what I want in conflict with reality?

Sometimes we set out to achieve something that is just not in our control (for example, winning lotto).  Sometimes we set goals that are in conflict with the reality of where we are at in life at the moment (for example,  becoming a millionaire by next month when you can’t rub two cents together today).

While these are extremes and quite logical examples of unrealistic goals, sometimes we set our aims without really giving them careful consideration and then when we cannot achieve them, we get upset and feel like we are failing again.

We must check our aims to see if they are in conflict with reality by asking yourself ‘Is what I want in conflict with reality?’

What you might also find is that an aim that you set is something that is out of your control (getting someone else to behave a certain way for example), but you still might make that your aim.  This is fine, as long as you remain conscious that you don’t have control over another’s behaviour and that you cannot determine when or if you will ever achieve this aim.  It is always better to aim for something that you can work towards achieving, not relying on someone else’s behaviour.

We will continue to use steps one and two throughout the entire TRACK process because these two steps are what stop stress, depression and anxiety. We must continue to ‘check in’ with our mindset as we go about changing and doing the work needed to achieve the activity (small picture) & objective (bigger picture) aims that we want for our lives.

So let’s get started.  This is the exciting part of the TRACK process because you are now about to redesign your life and shift your focus on what you want for your life. 

We’ve let go of the past, we’ve accepted the now.  Next it’s time to start getting the learning and knowledge that is going to propel you to the next level of your life – the solution focussed approach to living your best life.

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