Two Powerful Alternatives to Goal Setting

By amandaalexander | Uncategorized


“When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.”  -Roy E. Disney

A week last Friday I wrote a post about goal setting in January. The premise of that post was that you don’t have to set goals in the first week of January! For many people, the transition from Christmas to January needs to be a little gentler and with less pressure to feel all fired up and ready to conquer the World!

In today’s post, I’d like to offer you two powerful alternatives to goal setting. If you’re feeling stuck or you’re not yet inspired to set any goals for the year ahead, you might find one of these 2 alternatives might be just what you need instead!

1. A Values Based Alternative to Goal Setting

Perhaps you are riding a wave of happiness right now and you’re having difficulty in thinking about what’s next on your list to achieve. Sometimes life is good and you don’t necessarily have to be always striving to be better.

Perhaps you’d just like to take a break from achieving the next thing and enjoy your present circumstances. That’s ok!

Or perhaps life is not so shiny or sparkly and you’re feeling completely uninspired and unmotivated. Also fine!

Try this instead… Coach yourself Exercise 1:

a. What is working well in your life right now? (There’s always something!)

b. What is making you smile or is making your heart sing in your life at present?

c. What are the values that are being expressed within these – what’s working well and what’s making your heart sing?

d. Identify these values – write them down

e. Write a values-based statement for the year ahead. The idea is to set your intention for the year based around your values. This works because when we orient our lives around our values, things tend to fall into place more easily. You don’t have to know what you want to achieve – this isn’t about goals. You just need to understand the values that are most important to you. `

f. Put your values-based statement somewhere you can refer to it frequently – daily if possible. This will help you to recognise what you want more of in your life and what you want less of.

g. If you veer off track, you can refer back to your values-based statement to identify what’s not working through the filter of your values. Here are the only 2 questions you’ll need to do this:
How are my values being honoured in this situation?
Which values are NOT being honoured in this situation?

2. An Imagination Based Alternative to Goal Setting

Emile Coue (1857-1926) was a French Pharmacist and Psychologist, who discovered that “when the imagination and the (conscious) will are in conflict, the imagination invariably wins the day”. This is known as Coue’s Law of Reversed Effort. And it explains why, when you’re lying in bed desperate to sleep because you’ve got a big day ahead of you, you can’t get to sleep. You’re imagining how awful you’re going to look, you’re imagining how difficult that full day with important long meetings is going to pan out if you haven’t had a good night’s sleep.

Your imagination beats your conscious will to sleep. Coue’s Law happens when our imagination and our will are opposed. So we need to think about what we want to happen rather than what we fear happening.

In a nutshell, we’re talking about positive visualisation here, folks! Even if you can’t create clear goals, you can still express how you want to feel this year…

Happy? Calm? Joyful? Accomplished? In control? Loved? Healthy?

Any of the above?

Try this, Coach Yourself Exercise 2:

a. Pick an aspect of your life or career that you’d like to improve. You might find it easy to think in terms of the various roles you play in life. e.g. manager at work, parent, friend, child, sportswoman, writer..…

b. Once you’ve identified the situation or role, identify how you want to feel in that specific situation:
e.g. “I want to feel happy when…”
“I want to feel accomplished when..”

c. The next step is simple, but you need to take the time to actually do it! Find a quiet space and spend a few minutes on your chosen situation visualising what you want to happen and how you want to feel. If you find this difficult, don’t fret it – be kind to yourself. Don’t expect to be a master at positive visualisation until you’ve got into a habit. It takes time and repetition.

d. A little tip which might help – try renaming this exercise as “daydreaming” or “fantasising” if you find yourself stuck with “visualising” Daydreaming and fantasising are words that have gentle, easy connotations and tend to reduce the risk of performance anxiety. Have you ever imagined winning the lottery, lying on a hot beach or read a novel and imagined yourself as the protagonist? Everyone can daydream!

If you’re stuck with your goal setting, I hope that one of these exercises will help you. And my last word – whatever you do, leave space for magic and miracles in the year ahead. As I said in my previous post on goal setting:

“The year will unfold and there will be plenty of opportunities ahead”.

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