Here’s the thing with setting goals. Most people seem to set goals based on what they don’t want to get. Which I know makes a certain kind of sense. If you have had an experience of something you really don’t want to go through again or continue to live with, it naturally shapes what you want to avoid in the future.

You don’t want to weigh 20kgs more than your natural body weight. You don’t want to continually work late. You don’t want a partner who takes you for granted. You don’t want to live a 90-minute commute from work.

It all makes a lot of sense and dwelling on these don’ts is easy to do. After all, we have a richer sensory experience to draw on of what we have or had rather than what we have not yet experienced but would like to. We know exactly how it feels to live in a body that feels too heavy rather than one that feels just right. We know precisely how it is to crawl in the traffic for hours on end rather than working from home with the dog curled up under our desk.

Our attention gravitates to what we know we don’t want, even though we want something different.

This is not a great way to goal set because our dream of a different future becomes defined by escaping the past. The goal is detailed with one eye firmly in the rear view mirror exclaiming, “Hell no, I don’t want any more of THAT!”. Our vision of tomorrow is laid on a foundation of evading a less than stellar yesterday.

When we create goals focused backwards like that we split our energy and focus between past and future without even realising it.

A subtle but powerful shift is to just define what you want and focus all your attention and energy on it. Give full focus to the way you want to go.  How will it feel when you have it? How will you get there? What are the 3 next actions you can take to move towards it? Who could help you or join you on your journey? How will you celebrate or is it reward enough in itself? What resources would support you? Full attention on where you are going.

In short: Face Forwards.

We go where we are looking. You know that yourself from tripping when distracted looking down at your phone, or veering towards the rumble strip as you look out to sea. We are naturally pulled in the direction of our focus. So it makes sense, when there is something that we really want to achieve, to not split that focus into past and future but to keep our eye firmly on the prize ahead.

When we only keep half our attention on where we are going we are slower and we make more mistakes. We are more easily distracted. Our goal is far more likely to fail. When we fully face forwards we can see the bumps in the road earlier and avoid them. We can make smart detours and adjustments. We enjoy the journey far more, and it’s usually a LOT faster.

You don’t need to define your future by escaping your past. You don’t need to marinate in what went wrong, where others let you down or you let yourself down.

You can just define what you want now and move with commitment towards it.  Decide you will make it so in 2019.

Turn your face towards the sun. Face Forwards.

 

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