Now that you have aligned your thinking with the reality of your situation and what it really means about your life and your self-worth, we now move onto become solution focussed about your issue.
Just because you are aligned with reality, it doesn’t mean that you have to just live with the current issue. In this step we want to turn our attention towards what you want now that you have been presented with this unwanted scenario.
It’s time to shift your attention towards action. We spend a lot of time focusing on what we don’t want and what we aren’t getting, and where does that get us? Further entrenched in our stress.
When we shift our attention towards acceptance first, and then solutions second, we start to find ways of getting ourselves out of these challenging situations so we can get back to enjoying life again.
The true purpose of goals
Before moving onto how to set your aims, it is extremely critical that I remind you of the true purpose of setting goals. Obviously we set goals in order to achieve them, or we wouldn’t set them in the first place. While this is the agenda of setting goals, it is not, however the true purpose of setting goals.
From the moment we decide to work on a goal we start doing things that effect the way life unfolds. We may talk to someone about our goals, put plans into action, do some research that adds to our knowledge, and create experiences that contribute to our life and that of those around us.
Don’t attach your goals to your self-worth
Just setting and working towards a goal is the important part of getting the goal. While achieving it is fantastic and gives us a great feeling, it is not the true essence of goal setting.
It doesn’t matter if we get the goal or don’t get the goal, there is always value in just going for the goal and setting life in motion because of what it gives you through experience and knowledge, and in tunr, because of what how this contributes to the knowledge and experience of those around you.
Of course you will always continue to set goals and aim to achieve them, but you musn’t attach your self-worth to the achievement of your goals as they are not what define your worth.
Remember? You are always 100% worthy no matter what is going on in your life because you are always contributing to yours and some one else’s development just by being alive. That makes you important right now, not when you achieve some aim that you or someone else has ‘rated’ (self-esteem) as making you worth more.
You cannot be worth more than you currently are because you are always 100% worthy.
Setting & assessing your goals
When setting your aims, you need to be very specific about what you want. It’s no good saying, “I want money”, but not knowing exactly how much money you want. How would you know if you got there? Your goals must be measurable and specific so that you know exactly what you are going for.
The next thing you need to do once you have set your goals, is to test them. It is a continual process to keep checking your thoughts against reality, as your habitual thinking can very easily send you back into feeling stressed about situations, particularly when it comes to setting goals.
We live in a ‘get your life right world’ where we are taught that achievement defines us, whether it’s achievement of something tangible like money, house etc or whether it’s simply the achievement of being the perfect person (calm, funny, organised etc).
With this in mind we need to be conscious of what we are doing and saying to ourselves and in terms of this aim step, we need to check that our goals are not in conflict with reality.
We do this by asking ourselves two questions:
1. Why do I want it?
2. Is what I want in conflict with reality?
Why do I want my aim?
The answer to this question will help you to highlight if you have your self-worth attached to this aim. How would you feel if you couldn’t achieve this goal? Identify any thoughts that are in conflict with the reality of self-worth.
Think about the reality thinking model, specifically the reality of being a parent, the reality of life and the reality of self-worth. Do your answers to this question align with this line of thinking?
Perhaps your goals needs to be adjusted if it doesn’t, or perhaps you know it’s misaligned, but you still want the goal anyway, and can upgrade the fact that your worth is not pinned on the achievement of this goal or not.
Is my aim in conflict with reality?
With this question, you want to check if you are setting a goal that is unachieveable, not relevant to your current circumstances or whether you are relying on the actions of others in order to obtain it.
For example, you may be relying on your child’s behaviour to improve in order to meet the aim of creating a harmonious relationship between you and him/her. This is an okay aim to have, as long as you know that you cannot control how another person behaves. As the child’s mother you do have a certain amount of influence over your child, but you cannot control them. Their behaviour is ultimately their choice and if you set the aim of them behaving, then you don’t really have much control over the fruition of that aim, so you need to be very conscious of that when setting a goal like this.
Perhaps if you had set a goal like this, it may be more productive to set your aim around you learning how to communicate better behaviour and good relations with your child. This is a much better goal that relies on you and your efforts for achievement.
Another example is if you were to set a goal to be a millionaire by next week. It’s not an entirely impossible goal if you already had the means, knowledge and plan to achieve it, but chances are having the aim to become a millionaire would probably take some more time than just a week and require a lot more planning and action to get you there.
So you want to set your aims in accordance with the reality of where you are at right now and what relies on you and your efforts to achieve it.
Activity goals vs Objective goals
We have talked about two sets of goals when using this aim step. One of them is activity goals and the other is objective goals.
Activity goals are where you become solution focussed about your specific situation that you’re finding challenging, like your child’s behaviour, an issue with your partner etc.
Objective goals are your bigger picture goals. They are goals that you don’t necessarily ever obtain, they are not tangible and are always works in progress.
When we spoke about these two types of goals, we used the reality thinking model to help you to start thinking about what you wanted and how to set your unique goals that applied to your life. We did this by first setting your objective goals (the bigger picture goals), so that when it came to setting your situation goals (that is your activity goals), then you could measure them against your bigger intention for your life.
Aim for being a parent
You first want to look at the type of parent you would like to be. What is the vision you have for how you would like to raise your children? These aims are what you are continually working towards and it’s important for you to consciously set these goals so that you have a clear direction that you want to head in when it comes to parenting.
When you put pen to paper and actually write these aims down, like we did in the exercises I gave you in Week Seven, it installs more of a committment within your mindset. It’s like you make an agreement with yourself about how you would like to be in the area of parenting.
Aim for your life
Similarly we asked you to look at what you wanted for your life, both generally and through the experiences you wished to have.
By generally we mean what you would like for your life; happy, fulfilling relationship with your partner, great relationship with your children etc.
By experiencing what you wish to have, we are talking about the more tangible goals you might like to set, like our ‘things I’d like to to do before I die’ list we created. This list will continually be added to and gives you are more bigger picture list of the things that you want to experience. They could be holidays, careers, money that you wish to have, a specific lifestyle or house that you want etc.
By setting the bigger picture aims for your life, you are expanding your mindset to having a bigger picture plan to continue to work on. This is really valuable because when you are challenged by a situation, having created this list of the life you would like, you have something to keep working towards, and you know what you want.
You can focus on this list and remind yourself of these aims whenever you are finding yourself consumed by a situation.
Aims for your self-worth
Setting bigger picture aims in the way of your self-worth reminds you of the person you would like to be. We all have weaknesses that we feel inhibit us in some way, and even though you know that your worth is not lessened because of these weaknesses, you may still want to work on them so that you can enjoy your life more and not feel trapped by any insecurities or lack of abilities that are important to you.
Aims for your situation
Even though looking at your situation is the first thing we do on the reality thinking model, it is the last thing we do when looking at and setting your aims. This is because you want your situation aims to be in alignment with your bigger picture aims.
Once you have set your aims for being a parent, aims for your life and aims for your self-worth, this becomes the continual reference point for your whole life. When you are dealing with the ups and downs that you come across in your journey, you want to keep these bigger picture aims close by so that you can use them to guide you towards the life you want to have.
For example, when dealing with breastfeeding issues, remembering the goals you have for your self-worth would be pertinent here, especially if you have self-worth goals around being kind to yourself and allowing yourself to learn and try new things.
Sure you might always want these things goals, but when you specifically write these self-worth aims down as specific aims that you are working on, you remember things like that when you come across difficult situations, such as getting frustrated over breastfeeding.
The bigger picture aims give you a bigger reference point, a bigger focus than just concentrating on the small picture. That is why your situation aims are your activity goals – the things you do to get you through the challenging times that are directly before you. You see, the bigger picture objective goals are aims for your life. Your situation aims are activities that you wish to pursue to address a current problem.
So your next step after you have set your objective, bigger picture goals about parenting, life and self-worth, is to set your situation goals, using your bigger picture goals as a guide and then testing them with our two questions above: Why do I want it? and Is my aim in conflict with reality?
Watch out for those pesky memes
Always be conscious of what you are saying to yourself when setting your aims. Those little habitual thoughts of your ‘not good enough’ thinking, will often creep up if when you are unaware, making you think that you can’t or won’t achieve your goals.
Feel the fear and do it anyway is a great saying that I love. Acknowledge this kind of thinking when you can and just recognise that it is merely the conditioning of your habitual mind that you are working on changing.
These kinds of beliefs are not truth and you can get past them with action and planning (the next two steps on the TRACK process). Remember, perhaps it’s not that you can’t, it’s just that you haven’t learnt how to yet.
The Power of affirmations
There is a lot of information and hype about setting affirmations. Some people agree with them and live by them, others think they are a fallacy and don’t work.
In Week seven I showed you scientific evidence of why they do work in the video of Rebecca the gymnast. There is a very physical process that occurs as you repeatedly say the same affirmations to yourself on a regular basis.
Just think of all the other good (and bad) habits you have. How did they get there? Through repetition; doing it over and over and over again.
It’s just that you did that unconsciously over time and now we are getting you to do it consciously in order to override your unproductive thinking and help you to obtain a happy life.
An enormously powerful way that I taught you to add affirmations into your life, is to do mirror affirmations.
Speaking your affirmations while looking at yourself right in the eye is like drilling that information into your brain. You also find that you will hear your brain accessing all those memes, those reasons and objections as to why that affirmation is not true and as you continue to repeat your affirmations to yourself in the mirror, you will feel more and more conviction over these statements.
If you haven’t tried it yet, I urge you to do so. I think you will be quite surprised. The full explanation of how to create and practice affirmations is in Week Seven / Day Seven.
In summary to the third step on the Mind TRACK to Happiness process, I want you to get serious about what you want for your life. It is possible that you have spent way too much time thinking about what you are missing out on and how your life has gone wrong. Or perhaps you’ve spent too much time thinking about what someone else did wrong, or judging yourself for doing everything wrong.
If you have not done the exercises in week seven on setting aims, I cannot stress how important this is in overcoming your stress or depression. Particularly if you have been doing depression, it is important to be able to set goals again without attaching them to your self-worth and feeling like a failure if they don’t come to fruition.
You are the only one who can change your life. You are the only one who can change your thinking about your life and you won’t do that by wallowing in your past, or entertaining the same mindset that is causing you to feel so bad or stressed about your life. It’s time to do something different, don’t you think? It’s time to start recreating your life to be the kind of life that you want it to be.
In tomorrow’s lesson we recap the ‘how to’ step of the Mind TRACK to Happiness Process – Step Four: Choices.