What does your awareness of now tell you about where you’re heading in your life?
If you carry on doing the things that you’re doing, will you be able to look back and see a life that you have designed, with all its joys and challenges?
When you’re clear on what you’re getting from the actions you take and the decisions you make, you find it much easier to answer the big questions of what you really want in life.
You can be more objective about the bad habits that get in the way of your full enjoyment, such as procrastination, negative self-talk, or always running late.
And you can prepare to replace them with habits that enhance your life.
Yet even when you are crystal clear on the most important things in your life, it can be tricky to sort out the ones that form the biggest goals.
You may have achieved a big goal and felt somehow a little flat and empty afterwards – a kind of ‘what now?’ feeling.
Perhaps working towards your goal was more enjoyable than actually attaining it.
These feelings are normal, and in fact the most compelling reason to set goals is to propel you into action, which is where the real rewards in life often come from.
In fact, the more you coach yourself to set and achieve your goals, the more you’re likely to find that the feeling of forward movement and progress gives you the most satisfaction.
This is one reason why starting to think about your next big goal before you’ve completed the one you’re currently working towards is a great idea.
In the very first Back to the Future film, the character Marty goes back in time to before he was born to ensure that his parents meet and fall in love, despite the odds against them, or he simply won’t exist in his own future.
As he takes actions that move him by turn towards and then further away from his goal, you can actually see the images of Marty and his sister fading in and out of the family photograph that Marty carries with him.
Marty was able to adjust his actions because he had a very clear idea of what he wanted to achieve and could clearly see how certain things were taking him off course.
Although you don’t have a crystal ball about how your life will turn out (or a Hollywood scriptwriter!) you can keep a focus on the kind of future you want to create.
This focus can act like a beacon that helps you walk your chosen path.
Is one of your long-term goals to create enough wealth so that you can retire early and run a small hotel on a fabulous tropical island?
If so, the avoidance habit you may have in the here and now of never opening your bank statements isn’t going to help you create that future.
Achieving what you really want depends on creating some kind of vision for yourself that you can begin to shape into tangible goals with a clear route to reaching them.
At this stage your vision for your life may be clear, but equally it may be quite general or vague.
Now that you’re truly getting in touch with knowing your values, you can describe many of the things that have to be present in your future life.
You can also get clearer on some other details too.
The following activity helps you to get your whole-life goals clearly in sight.
Imagine that you turn on your computer one morning and pick up a series of emails from your inner coach.
Remember that your inner coach exists now, in your present, and at all stages of your life in your future.
Your inner coach wants to tell you all the things you’ve accomplished in your life and so has decided to write you emails from five, 10, and 20 years in the future.
Look at the following list of different areas of your life.
Maybe some areas are more of a priority to you than others, so you may choose to focus on just a few for now.
You may want to work through the activity for each key area in turn, or alternatively discover that looking at your life as a whole is the right way for you.
Both approaches work very well.
Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, and 20 years time in terms of your:
- Health. Your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing and health.
- Career. Your job, work, or career, paid or unpaid.
- People. The relationships and people in your life.
- Money. Financial security and lifestyle choices.
- Growth. The way you learn and develop as a person.
Think of your future life goals as if they are features on a far-distant horizon.
You can see, way ahead of you in the distance, the shapes and colors of a mountain, or a lake, or a village.
But nothing is in sharp relief because you’re too far away.
You can choose to head towards the mountain, or the lake, or the village – whichever seems the most appealing to you from where you are now.
As you get closer, you begin to see the terrain on the mountain, the eddies and whirls of the lake, the houses and buildings of the village.
You get a stronger sense of whether your choice to head for the mountain was the right one, or whether, now that you can see a little more in focus and have gathered speed along the way, the lake or the village seems to be a better destination.
You can still change course, even quite late in the day, and make your final decision about your destination.
You may even notice something that you couldn’t see from your starting point.
Just around the corner from the mountain is a valley that looks appealing.
And when you finally reach the destination that you’ve chosen, you have no regrets because you’ve had the most amazing journey along the way.
After you have a vision of your whole-life goals, you can frame them into a desire statement in preparation for generating options and an action plan.
A desire statement is a simple expression of a vision for yourself for your future.
What did you see when you emailed yourself as your inner coach?
Perhaps you saw yourself running your own business?
Maybe you got a vision of a wonderful family life?
Or did you see yourself using a talent or passion in a certain way?
Time to place your goals on your horizon with the following activity so you know where you’re heading!
1. Take each of your whole-life goals and condense them into a short desire statement.
Your desire statement for wealth may look something like this example:
I want to be a successful and talented businessperson, creating the wealth that I need to provide my family with the lifestyle that we all want.
2. Think of the time period in which you want to achieve your whole-life goals — it could be a year or 20 years — and choose an image to represent your path.
You may like the idea of a mountain range to represent your ultimate destination, or perhaps the point where the sea and sky meet in a coastal landscape.
Maybe you’ll choose the night sky and focus on the furthest star.
3. Place each of your whole-life goals on the terrain ahead of you, approximately where you think they’ll be in the time when you achieve them.
As you place them, think of the images and feelings associated with each goal and repeat your desire statement to yourself.
For example, you may get an image of your perfect home that represents for you a goal of family life, or a trophy to symbolize a sporting achievement like running a marathon.
4. Recall this visualization regularly to keep your own big-picture vision for your life sharply in focus.
This activity may already get you thinking about how you are going to fulfill your whole life goals.
Recommended Resources on Goal Setting: