As children, we are often asked this resounding, highly complicated question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Regardless of the answer—whether it’s a doctor, a firefighter, a novelist, an astronaut, a musician, a teacher, a professional athlete (the list goes on!)—those who support us on our journey never discourage us from following those daring dreams when we’re young.
So, what changes as we grow into emotionally intelligent adults? What holds us back from following the path we so desire and deserve? Self-doubt. Fear of disappointing those who have a certain expectation of who we are supposed to be, and where we are supposed to be going. Concerns about failure. Financial stability. Responsibility to the ones we love. How is it that when we are finally grown into the most capable versions of ourselves, we shy away from setting goals that may actually lead to our happiness?
Today, I invite you to consider where you spend the majority of your energy. Does your career, in fact, align with your life passions and self-recognized talents?
If you’re unsure, I’ve created an exercise that I’ve been implementing for nearly a decade as a leadership coach that has proven to be massively successful in building more self-awareness to help you design your unique roadmap based on the person you want to become (not the person you believe you’re supposed to be) to lead a more fulfilling life, both personally and professionally.
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When I got started in the corporate realm, I knew I had to look the part, so I hired a personal stylist to help me establish a professional wardrobe that I felt comfortable with. My first assignment was to create a board of magazine outfit printouts (Pinterest didn’t exist back then) demonstrating my favorite looks that inspired the creation of my wardrobe. Putting together specific key “pieces” to emulate those fashion goals.
Setting our personal and professional life goals is very similar, in the sense that we must start with a tangible vision. Creating the life you’re dreaming to live starts with your own roadmap on paper of what it is you’d like to accomplish. Then, we figure out what key “pieces” you’ll need to get there.
Step #1: Write Your Story
Ask yourself this question: “By the end of the year, what do I want my life to look like?” Come up with some general abstract ideas on what is most important to you right now, what you’re passionate about, where your top talents lie, and how you can capitalize on those strengths to achieve your goals.
Step #2: Establish Your Goals
Career: Identify where you currently are in this space of your life and how it aligns with what you want both in the short- and long-term timeline. Identify the specific certifications, promotions or steps you determine are necessary to move you from where you are currently, to where you want to go with your career and professional skill sets.
Health/Wellness: Focus on the end result and outcome in addition to the daily steps you will need to take in order to achieve that end result. Perhaps you want to follow a stricter exercise regimen? Learn to meditate? Eat healthier foods? Clearly defined, this section of your plan is: what do you want and what do you need to do to achieve those health-related goals?
Finances – Finances can have an impact on how you perceive yourself, your abilities and your overall value as a contributor. Set realistic goals for yourself about what you want to create in the financial arena of your life, and what you need to do to reach those goals.
Personal – This category can include material or “wish list” goals that you have always wanted to do, but have not followed through with, or that you’re unsure of how to execute. Putting the goal in your plan makes it real, and helps you to begin framing how you will take the steps to bring your goal to fruition.
Relationships – The topic of love and relationships is extremely broad. Your accurate diagnosis of where you are with this space is relative to your thoughts, feelings and the gap between where you are and how you’ll aim to progress in your most significant relationships. The many components of this category could include: Relationship with yourself, your friends, your family members, your spouse, your children and/or your colleagues at work.
Step #3: Develop Your Guidephrase
A Guidephrase is a mantra that will help you stay focused on your goals when life throws unexpected twists and turns your way. While you do have control over your own individual goals, thoughts and behavior, you do not have full reign over your journey and should be prepared to take on life’s obstacles from a place of strength and peace.
When developing your unique guide phrase, consider this: “What advice do I have for myself when I start to lose track of my vision?”
Make your guide phrase highly visible in your day-to-day activities, and leverage those intentional thoughts to keep your eyes on the prize.
Once you’ve completed the exercise, return to your journal monthly, quarterly, however often you need to review your goals and reflect on your vision accordingly. Be accepting of the fact that you can change your course of action, your own wants, and needs, at any point in time.
That’s the beauty of this whole thing called Life, we have the power to create our own vision of what we want to accomplish, and design the unique roadmap we need to get to there.
To learn more about ZenLeader: www.zenleader.org
IMAGES: With Credit to VS Photography on the following pages.