If you often feel that you don't know where you want to go in life, or you find it difficult to follow through on the goals you have for yourself, you are not alone. Here are some practical ways you can begin to challenge and adapt your mindset to gain clarity on your goals and your lifestyle vision.
In an earlier blog post we looked at refining your Lifestyle Vision which would start to build a picture of where you want to be heading in life. It also forms the basis on which you can start to formulate goals that align with that vision, and anchor those in to your day-to-day life as it is now.
Getting to the point where you feel ready - or even able - to start thinking in terms of a bigger-picture vision like that can be a challenge. You might feel that it isn't worth your while, that your goals aren't attainable - so why bother? You might feel like nothing you try ever works - why would this be any different?
Beliefs like that - that mindset - is one thing that is going to prevent you or at least hold you back from ever considering these types of ideas in the first place. In this post I want to look at some ways that you can begin to challenge your mindset and your default mode of thinking to give yourself the best chance at developing that higher vision for yourself and taking steps to align with it.
"Being able to change your life and having a vision for it are the yin and yang of living a great life"
- Corbett Barr
In his blog post on creating a life vision Corbett Barr brings up this two-fold approach to kickstarting your motivation to get you started on this journey. He discusses how whether you take the leap first and then start planning as you build momentum or you come up with a plan which inspires you to take action, you're moving forward either way.
Hack #1 - Think Yourself in to Action
Few things you could do will be more effective and highlight the areas you need to focus on more than just taking action. Yet going from zero to jumping out of bed one morning and getting shit done isn't likely if you haven't fueled yourself to make that shift. That's why as part of the Life-Design coaching process I encourage people to map out a vision for where they want to be, breaking that down in to goals which are approachable and connect with your life. That way you're aware of the things you could be doing today that do align with your lifestyle vision and increases the chances that you'll take those steps. Get in to the way of thinking at the level of the individual tasks that build towards your goals and find a system that works for you to prioritize getting those things done. I also recommend using the calendar or other scheduling app on your phone and setting that as your home screen so that you're always being reminded of what you need to do. As you start on this journey you'll hit roadblocks. Some days that might be low energy and little motivation, other times it might be self-doubt and fear. You might not even realise that those factors are in play and simply think to yourself I don't feel like doing this today and distract yourself with, well... distractions.
Hack #2 - Mental Journaling
This will help you to become aware of and de-bug what is actually going on in your mind that results in those moments of low motivation, self-doubt or a lack of clarity. Taking the time and creating the space to assess your inner-world not with judgement but to gain clarity is a great way to keep you on track towards your vision. What I call mental journaling is what a lot of people do thinking that they're meditating (myself included) so let's experiment with calling it something else. The practice of mental jouraling is a mindfulness hack that can take whatever form you need. The premise is simple. You can do this with a pen-and-paper journal, a Word document or notes app on your phone, or you can simply think the thoughts (that's what makes it like meditation). Simply describe the sensations, noises, pictures and stories floating through your mind and body: "I feel cold Images of my day ahead are racing through my mind
My feet are sore I have All I Want for Christmas stuck in my head" Don't get caught up in the narrative, don't try to elaborate or explain why these things are happening. This is a practice of noticing. Simply bringing your awareness to centre on these things. If you're struggling to do that, then simply notice or write that down:
"My mind is creating stories about my day - worries and fears I'm anxious about a presentation I feel restless I feel like this is pointless I want to have a nap"
The great thing about doing this exercise is that it can be done anywhere. On the bus, walking home, in a meeting - wherever. You can also implement it as a part of your morning journaling exercise if that's something you do (or would like to start - hint, hint ).
Hack #3 - Connect to Your Future
When you're going forward, it doesn't tend to help to be looking over your shoulder. Of course having an understanding of your past and feeling connected to it is hugely beneficial in many ways but when it comes to trying to create and connect with something new you don't need to let where you've been in life dictate where you're going. For a long time I let the fact that I have a degree in psychology hold me back from putting myself out there as a freelance digital marketer. I was letting my story of who I am based on my past dictate who I felt I could become. Having that education is still of huge benefit to me in particular when it comes to my coaching work but in that instance it was limiting my perspective. An exercise you can try here is coming up with an introduction for the current version of yourself - based on what you've done previously - and a new introduction which includes what you'd like to be doing or are transitioning in to. Follow a simple 'Hi, I'm and I ' formula and feel free to add in some detail to elabprate. Then look at yourself in the mirror and introduce yourself to each of these versions. You can play around with different ways of framing this new you to see what resonates and how you react to different language. Notice whatever happens: maybe you'll feel jaded introducing yourself as you are right now, and anxious when you experiment with introducing yourself as the person you would like to become.
Maybe some self-defeating thoughts will pop in to your head. Take notice of that. That is a foundation on which you can then inquire further: why do you feel like that, why do you have those thoughts. You can begin to work through them to further align with this vision you have of yourself. You might even want to try this new introduction in a real-life scenario some time. Our awareness of how others perceive us (or how we believe they perceive us) plays a big part in our own self-concept so doing something to alter this can be very powerful (so why not test it out in our private community on Facebook?)
It's important to realise that you aren't simply the sum of your life experience but also the potential that lies ahead of you - your goals in life, your aspirations and the life you are moving in to equally play a role in shaping this moment. The process of developing and moving towards your life vision, and embracing change in your day-to-day can be difficult at times and I want to be able to offer you support on that journey. I would like to invite you to join the Life-Design Mindset community on Facebook where I share content and discussion that isn't available on the blog or through my other social media platforms. The group is in its early days and I'm offering a free one-to-one coaching session to the first 25 members so get in quick if you want to discuss your life-design in more depth - I hope to see you there! You're also welcome to a free consultation to discuss your Life-Design goals and find out if working together to take your next steps could be your next step.