Our latest article on questions to ask yourself to help refocus your goals.
Setting goals is a great way to keep life in focus.
We set personal and professional goals to hold ourselves accountable to help us reach our next milestone.
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Questions to ask yourself to help refocus your goals
Taking a step back and asking ourselves a few questions can help us to refocus and get us back on the right path to reaching our goals.
1. Ask yourself how you want to feel.
If we are diligent, the cycle of setting goals includes reaching them, and for many of us, what is then a short-term feeling of accomplishment?
The end of the race is never as satisfying as we had hoped it would be.
This leaves us with a deflated feeling of “now what?”
The feeling of exuberant joy, of “I finally made it,” never seems to come.
When I defended my doctoral dissertation, the committee said I passed.
I was very excited as I shook everyone’s hand.
As I left the room and got on an elevator full of people, I wanted to tell them I had just successfully defended my dissertation.
I’m not that extroverted, so I didn’t, and I soon realized my personal accomplishment didn’t mean much to the rest of the world.
I was still happy, but it was a jolt of reality that something I had spent much of my life working to achieve only mattered to a few.
I think this is true of most things in life.
The end result doesn’t always have the payout we expect.
I think this is why people share so much on social media.
They want some type of recognition or an extension of the feeling they had hoped to feel.
When setting goals, think about how you want to feel when you reach your goal.
This is one of the most important questions to ask yourself.
If you are working on your finances, maybe one of the feelings you are looking for is actually security.
If you start with that in mind, you are more likely to work toward your goal and be more satisfied once you accomplish it.
For my dissertation, I wasn’t looking for recognition, thankfully.
I was looking for security.
Passing through that hurdle meant that I had finished all the requirements for my education and could now focus on my career.
Focusing on the feeling you hope to feel helps clarify your goals.
2. What are your core values?
If you had to pick your top five values in life, what would they be?
This is one of the most powerful questions to ask yourself.
If you are unsure, download a list (search for “values list” to get some ideas) and choose five that resonate with you.
Once you have your top five values, circle your top two.
These two values are your core values.
My top two values are health and connection.
The decisions I make in life are centered around them, as well as my goals.
Make sure your goals are aligned as closely as possible with your core values.
Goals don’t have to center around your core values but shouldn’t contrast with them.
You will likely struggle if your goals are misaligned with your core values.
For example, I work with graduate students who put a lot of value on their families.
I know that they struggle while in school because they have limited time with their families since they are also balancing work.
If you struggle because your goals aren’t aligned with your values, consider whether it is a temporary situation for the greater good.
If it is a temporary situation, recognize that your goals aren’t aligned with your values, which is why you are struggling, but give yourself grace.
3. If you had one wish, what would it be?
Why are you asking me about a wish?
What does this have to do with my goals?
Oftentimes our thinking is very limited in scope.
Our goals are based on what has happened in our lives, what others have told us about ourselves, and what our limited mind thinks we can do.
Based on this limited approach, we think about what has happened and shape our goals.
Asking ourselves to believe in dreams without any limitations forces our brains to break through those barriers.
It frees our minds to be creative and expand our possibilities.
Sometimes it is helpful to do this over a period of a few days.
Brainstorm your wish.
What would you like to have happen?
Then walk away from it.
Return to it a few days later and see if you can go even bigger.
You will tend to see that you were limiting yourself.
Use the information you gathered from your wish to help you formulate your goals.
Have you been limiting yourself based on prior beliefs you held about yourself?
Based on the work that I have done with my coaching clients, I would guess that you have.
This is actually a difficult exercise for some coaching clients.
They don’t like to do it at first.
They will respond with, “Why are we doing this,” “This will never happen,” “I could never afford to do this.”
These limiting thoughts keep us stuck in “what is” instead of “what could be.”
Allow yourself to dream big and expand your goals to fit who you can be instead of limiting them to who you have been.
When we allow expansive thinking, we allow expansive possibilities.
We can lose motivation and traction toward our progress when working toward goals.
Taking time to ask ourselves key questions about our values, what we hope to feel, and our ultimate dreams help us reformulate our goals and set us on a road to success.
These are great questions to ask yourself.
However, sometimes we may still feel stuck because of our mindset.
It is okay to ask for help from friends, colleagues, or a professional coach or counselor.
Sometimes getting an outside perspective allows us to see ourselves in a new light and sheds new light on our goals.
Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and share any other questions you might ask yourself.
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