12 steps and guiding principles to help take on any goal
Taking on a big goal can feel really daunting. I get it. I’ve been there. Many a time!
- I signed up to a marathon (42.195 km) after a conversation with a friend…
- I signed up to an IRONMAN (3.8 km swim, 180 km ride, 42.195 km run) after 5 years of running injuries and unable to run more than 12 km…
- I left one job without another, choosing to launch my business without a single client…
- I chose to go on a journey to bring a little soul into the world on my own and become a solo mum…
Do you think any of these goals I thought at the time of committing to them I could actually do? No. In fact in most cases my confidence levels were almost nil.
But they shared one thing. They felt right. And I’ll be forever grateful I chose to trust that feeling.
We each go on our own journey. We make choices about what we take on, and what we don’t. None of it is right or wrong, but those choices will collectively become the path we travel. Sometimes the most challenging road is the one with our name on it. And we don’t just deny ourselves by not taking it, we deny the impact it could have on those around us as well.
I couldn’t be more grateful for all I’ve taken on. Not necessarily for what I’ve achieved, but more so the depths to which I’ve come to know myself, in my quest to achieve them. Because it’s that self that continues to be inspired and find the courage to challenge my limits and discover an entire world of possibility I wouldn’t have otherwise known. To an extent, I’ve also helped shape the world around me, in my own little way. With more to come, I’m sure.
There have been some common themes that have helped me throughout my journey, and, with these in mind, I’ve created 12 steps and guiding principles that I believe can help discover more of the possibility we all have within us.
These can be applied to the biggest of goals, or just everyday life. They remain concepts I am constantly reminding myself of. I wanted to share them in the hope they might help you discover more of the world that’s just waiting for you!
1. KNOW YOUR ESSENCE
At the essence of our being are things that light us up and drive us from deep within. They’re the things we’re passionate about and that bring us joy. It might be a hobby, a strength, a philosophy or a purpose. It could be one thing or many things that we subconsciously gravitate towards. By knowing your essence, you can intentionally fuel it, and, in doing so, light up every area of your life.
Try it: On a blank page write at the top ‘What lights me up?’ then start writing anything that comes to mind. Keep adding to it for as long as it takes. When you’re done, take some time to reflect on your notes. See if you can pinpoint what might be your essence. Are there any words or themes that stand out? Sit with it and see if it feels right. You’ll know when you’ve hit the jackpot.
2. HAVE A GOAL
A goal gives us focus. With focus we have a direction to head in and something to strive towards. Pick the right goal and it will ignite your essence, because it will be born from it. We all have so much potential within us, not just in one area of our lives, but many. It often takes a goal that stretches us just enough to realise this for ourselves.
Try it: On a blank page write at the top ‘What if …’ then start filling the space with answers. Ask yourself: what if I could do this, or do that? We often deny our dreams with a mindset based on limits, rather than possibilities. So use your imagination and dream big. Keep adding to it. Pick the one that inspires you most right now and make that your first goal.
3. GIVE IT PURPOSE
When a goal is inspired by a real sense of purpose, it gives us an unrelenting drive towards achieving it, no matter what gets in the way. Often when that purpose is bigger than you, or the impact of achieving it could touch more lives than just yours, the stronger that drive will be.
Try it: See if you can bring a bigger sense of purpose to your goal. Why are you doing it? What’s at the heart of it? What impact will it have? Don’t ‘not’ make it about you (it will always be to an extent), but if there’s a bigger picture you can keep in your sights it will give you far more drive towards achieving it. And see if you can feel the difference in motivation between a goal with a deep sense of purpose and one without.
4. SIGN UP
Nothing happens if nothing happens … So now comes the most courageous part: sign up and commit to your goal! It’s often easier said than done, because there’s no guarantee you’ll succeed. And if it’s a big goal, you’ll never really be ready for it, or sure of anything. But if you don’t sign up to it, the one certainty you will have, is that you’ll never know otherwise.
Try it: Imagine for a moment that you’ve just signed up to your goal. How does it feel? Perhaps a little scary? But secretly good too? They’re good ingredients for any goal. You’ll never really be ready, for anything – but if it feels right, trust it is. Could you sign up to your goal today, or commit to doing so? Then … why don’t you?
5. GIVE IT YOUR ALL
You will have a far greater chance of achieving your goal when you bring all of yourself to it. Use all the resources available to you, not just some of them. By this, I mean all aspects of you as a person: the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. It can be common practise to just focus on the one area when all of these elements work together. For example, with sporting goals, many would focus on the physical aspect. But this could limit your performance – a little like expecting the best out of your car by only putting air in the tyres and not filling the tank with petrol!
Try it: With your goal in mind, divide a piece of paper into four quadrants labelled physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Think about all you’re doing and planning to do in relation to your goal, and note it in the relevant quadrant. They won’t be perfectly balanced, but if any quadrant looks a little empty, consider what else you could try in that area so you have everything covered. You might even get some ideas by asking others what works for them.
6. MAKE IT A ‘CO-CREATION’
Nothing we do in life is in isolation or in a bubble. We do it in the environment around us, and alongside everything within it. So, as we strive to achieve a goal, we should consider the conditions in the environment relative to that goal and, better still, work with them, not against them. Make it a ‘co-creation’ – because realise it or not, everything around us becomes part of the equation.
Try it: Think about your goal in relation to the environment you are likely to experience when you go after it. What are the elements that could have an impact on you achieving it? And how might you be able to work with some of them? Then, as you progress towards your goal, keep the ‘co-creation’ concept in mind and you might find other elements in your environment you can work with as well. And see if you can notice the difference this approach makes.
7. ADAPT AS YOU GO
The environment is forever changing, and so should our response to it. Having a plan is great, but adapting and adjusting as you go, at times moment-to- moment, is even better. It will bring with it a greater chance of success, and also feel much lighter than staying rigid to the plan and resisting any changes.
Try it: In working towards your goal, stop every now and then and do a sense check of how flexible you are, or have been. Are you/have you been open to change, or fixated on the plan? You might find the more present and in tune you are, the more readily you’ll foresee any adjustments you might need to make to give yourself the best chance of success.
8. SEE SETBACKS FOR THE GIFTS THEY BRING
Setbacks are inevitably part of any journey, and they can make achieving your goal all the more worthwhile. They also provide us with an opportunity to learn and grow in a way we might not have otherwise. If you can embrace the perspective that ‘things don’t happen to us, they happen for us’, you’ll feel far more empowered whatever comes your way.
Try it: The key here is about embracing setbacks; if you can do that, as challenging as it might be, you’ll instantly be closer to your goal. As anything unexpected arises on your journey, make some notes of how you feel and then see if you can explore what the gift or value in it could be. It might be hard to see at first, but there will be something.
9. MAKE IT ABOUT THE JOURNEY
Taking on a goal isn’t about a single point in time, it’s about the journey it takes you on – the days that precede it and the days that follow, the highs and lows, the hopes, the heartaches and everything in between. It’s also about sharing your journey with others because in doing so, it will make it a journey more fully lived – the vulnerability you’ll feel, will amplify every part of it.
Try it: Try keeping a journal as you work your way towards your goal. A journal can help you to pause and reflect along the way, and absorb more than you might have otherwise. You might even consider sharing your journey with the people you feel inspired to. I’ve found the more certain I am in my journey, the more comfortable I am in sharing it. And you might find that too.
10. LET GO OF EXPECTATIONS
Being really attached to a particular outcome for a goal can, in a way, set you up for failure, because it creates a measure by which ‘success’ is deemed. This not only puts unnecessary pressure on you, but might also mean you miss incidental and unexpected successes along the way. You’ll naturally have an outcome you’re aiming for, but if you can ‘let go’ of any real attachment to it, you’ll enjoy more freedom in your journey and allow the magic to unfold.
Try it: As you journey towards your goal, see how relaxed you can be about the planned outcome you have for it. Not to compromise your performance – you might find it even enhances it. A good way to approach this is to have the letters of the alphabet in mind. Focus all of your energy on your Plan A Goal, but know there might be 25 other scenarios that could play out … The curiosity of what they could possibly be is sure to keep you relaxed!
11. DRAW COURAGE FROM THE PAST
Confidence and self-belief gained from past achievements are among the biggest strengths you can bring to future goals, especially the ones we didn’t think were possible until we made them so. It’s so easy to lose sight of our past achievements, but if we remind ourselves now and then, and look at all the things we’ve taken on in our lives, we can draw so much strength from them.
Try it: Start creating a list of your past achievements. They could be goals you took on, or things you managed to get through. See if reflecting on them can make you feel a little more confident about your current goal. And if there’s a big confidence booster that stands out, you might keep this one top of mind, and draw on it whenever you need to. Knowing you had what it took to do that will remind you that you CAN do this.
12. LET THE IMPACT RIPPLE
Taking on the goals we once thought weren’t possible, whatever their outcome, takes us on a journey that will in some way impact our lives, but also the lives of those around us. The extent of that impact is up to us. We have the choice to be inspired, gain perspective, create change, and, ultimately, to take on more, achieve more and become more.
Think of it as a ‘ripple effect’, the way it flows to other areas in our lives, and beyond us to the people around us. Then to the people in their lives, and so on, continuing to flow from one person to the next … Impact that can reach so far and wide, and be so everlasting, it has the potential to be infinite.
Our journeys create ripples of impact, the full extent of which we may never know. A sequence of events set in motion by the choices we make, that might never have happened, had we not signed up to that goal to begin with.
Try it: Once you start to see impact, you can’t un-see it. Think about a goal you’ve taken on that’s had an impact on your life in some way. How has it shaped you? Did it have an impact on anyone else? How have the goals others have taken on impacted you? As you track towards the goal you have in your sights, see if you can consciously allow it to impact your life in even more positive ways. You’ll be all the better for it.
These 12 steps and guiding principles are what I have learnt through determination, experience and a willingness to open myself to the unknown. I truly believe that each of these has helped me – and continues to help me – un-tap more of the possibility I have within myself.
I offer them to you, as an opportunity to do the same, and I encourage you to challenge your limits and be open to what comes your way.
The world will be a far more extraordinary place.
By Alexandra André
Speaker, Writer, Coach
For more, and to purchase a copy of The Power of Possibility or book a coaching session visit: www.alexandraandre.com