When you start working on your goals getting support and encouragement from your friends and family is a great way to be accountable.
If you are having trouble getting started on your goals reaching out to professional coaches or therapists is also a great move.
But most importantly. If you feel stuck in your life and unable to do anything about it – reach out to a medical professional to get the support you need. Feeling stuck in life can be a sign of depression so never hesitate to reach out if you are feeling concerned.
Be kind to yourself
This journey to get unstuck is going to take some work. So, it is important to be kind to yourself throughout the process.
Make sure you have self-care activities in your routine that will support your physical and mental health.
Watch for unhelpful thoughts
Part of moving forward and pushing through the comfort zone you have created for yourself will be the battle you have with your brain.
It will be doing its best to keep you comfortable and safe but giving you unhelpful thoughts and doubts.
The important thing is to remember these are only thoughts (and not facts).
Thank your brain for trying to keep you safe. But, remember not to buy into those thoughts. Just pay attention to the thoughts that will help and support you to make the positive changes you want and deserve.
Now you should be fully armed with information that supports you to get yourself out of a rut.
But, the key is to start. Now.
So, let me help you. To begin with – I invite you to answer this question:
What are three things you are grateful for in your life right now?
This should boost your positivity.
Now, think about something new and different you have been thinking about doing recently? (Hint: going somewhere new, trying something new, learning something etc)
Okay – now do it! Right now. Go do it or book it in or make a solid plan (and stick to it!).
Congratulations! You have started to get yourself unstuck!
These are all things I have heard. They make sense. But, I’ve never paid much attention to their meaning.
But, what if one is genuinely the key to a fulfilling life?
On closer review, it is not a surprise that Franklin D. Roosevelt’s statement“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” from his 1932 inaugural address has more value than a proverb based on medieval falconry and a rock band album cover.
But, my point still stands.
Perhaps knowing the only thing we should be fearing is fear itself – is the key to living a rewarding, worthwhile and happy life?
If this is resonating with you – you might be wondering what the next step is. If so, try giving this a go:
Think about where these fears are coming from: Listen to the negative thoughts that are coming from a place of fear. What are they saying to you?
Think about the validity of these thoughts: Should these fears really be a concern? Should they stop you from living a life you love and being who you’ve always wanted to be?
Understand where you want to be: Take the time to explore what you really want your life to look like – if fear and negative thoughts weren’t an issue.
Take your fears head on (or just dip your toe in): Prove to yourself that you can face your fears. Start working towards your dream life – focusing on what is important to you and not your fears. You will no doubt surprise yourself about what you can achieve when your focus is pointed away from your fears.
Don’t let fear stop you from living a life you love
…let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.
If you feel like the changes you want in your life are impossible – then it might be fear that is holding you back from what you deserve.
Don’t settle for a bird in the hand if you want more. Don’t be afraid to go for it!
On the other side of fear, there may be two birds or maybe ten. For certain – there will be valuable life lessons, new opportunities and forward momentum. And these are all the things you need if you want more from your life.
If you need a hand building a picture of what your dream life might look like – check out this free 5-day email course.
You have a goal you want to achieve. Awesome! Do you find yourself wishing for a magic wand?
Now is when the real battle begins.
Anyone that has ever tried to reach a goal would know – achieving big goals takes a lot of hard work and dedication. But, there are small things you can do to help yourself find a storybook ending.
These are my 4 top tips for you to help you achieve your goals the easiest way possible.
Don’t think big goals – just work on the next little step
By achieving small goals you can create motivation through self-efficacy or small wins. The more wins you put on the board the more your motivation will build.
So if you want to achieve your goals the easiest way possible, experiment with keeping your timeline under 2 weeks and just concentrate on one step at a time.
Extra tip – I always like to make the first step due by the end of the day to get myself off to a flying start!
Create a path of least resistance
We are creatures of habits and for most of us, habits are only created when we make it super easy for ourselves.
So, when you are planning your goals – plan to slip your required action into your existing lifestyle as simply as possible. Then, do as much setup as you can.
So, when it is time for action – you have done your best to make it easy for yourself.
Setting yourself up for success will minimise the excuses you make in the moment for not going after your goals. This will increase your chances of action taking!
Feel accountable to your goals
To give yourself a fighting chance I recommend finding an accountability system that works for you.
Here are a few examples:
1. Share your goals
But, do it with the right people. These are people that will support and encourage you.
2. Have other people hold you accountable
Try setting up an accountability partnership with a friend. Or, join/create a group of like-minded goal-achieving people.
3. Create accountability in your day
Display them in an obvious place so every day you can remind yourself to be responsible for your success.
Really understand your “Why?”
If you want the best chance of attaining a new goal – be VERY excited about it!
If you want to be VERY excited about your goal. You need to have a deep understanding of why you need this goal in your life and how it is important to you.
A helpful question to ask yourself is:
What will my life be like when I attain this goal?
After answering this question you want to be buzzing.
If you are not, you might want to think about shelving it for another time. And find something else to work on that lights you up.
Are you trying to achieve your goals the easiest way?
So, although this isn’t a fairy tale where all your wildest dreams will easily come true. If you keep these simple things in mind when you are taking action on your goals you can do to make your happy ending a little more achievable.
The more fleeting – jumping up and down with excitement and joy
The more enduring – feelings of contentment, fulfillment and worthwhileness derived from things that are meaningful.
The older we get the more we equate meaning in our lives (option 2) with a happy life. Additionally, having meaning in life has been linked to life satisfaction and better physical health and wellbeing.
So, if you are thinking about goals for the new year one place you might want to start is:
Think about the things in your life that bring you a sense of meaning.
And if it feels a little lacking – a great goal would be to aim to sprinkle extra meaningful things into your week.
A sense of purpose – or a driving reason to get out of bed in the morning – has many benefits to both your mental and physical health.
A sense of meaning is an important part of purpose. The other two important components according to research are:
Goals aligned to the pursuit of meaning &
The pursuit of the benefit of others.
If you are thinking about your purpose. A good place to start is to think about if you have a compelling reason to jump out of bed in the morning?
If you can’t think of one – it might be worth having a brainstorm. Think about:
How you can be of service to others, by
Doing activities that bring you meaning.
Then an excellent goal for the new year is to put a plan in place to make this happen.
Do you have enough things in your life at the moment that make you smile, laugh and bring you feelings of joy?
Above, I mentioned the kind of enduring happiness we get from meaning/purpose and the many benefits. But we need to make sure we have enough of the fleeting/exciting type as well!
Because the fact is your life can be chockablock full of purposeful and personally rewarding activities but you find that you are missing laughter, joy and play.
If this resonates with you, a good place to start is thinking about the things in your week that bring you joy, make you laugh/smile, feel fun and playful.
When you weigh them up against the other things in your week, does it feel enough?
If not, sounds like you have a fun goal to re-address the balance in your week!
Do you know what your core values are?
I like to think of core values as your most important boxes – that sit right in the foundations of who you are. They are tick boxes. And the more you tick these boxes the better you can feel about life.
These are the things that motivate your behaviour. But, you can ignore them and act in conflict without realising. And unfortunately, sometimes in life when we are so caught up in work, family, etc. We might not realise that these boxes are not getting ticked.
In my experience, living aligned with your core values can be the difference between a life that feels… blah and one that feels fulfilling.
So, adding more activities to your life that align with your core values could be a great goal for you to consider in the new year.
Are you someone that sees the glass is half empty or half full?
If you have read the above and thought to yourself:
“I have goals, meaning/purpose, happiness and value-aligned activities in my life. But I still feel like things should be better.”
You might need to work on your mindset.
The way we feel, react and interact (for the most part) is all a consequence of our choices. Whether conscious or not these are driven by our mindset.
And unfortunately, our brains are wired to be pretty negative (for safety reasons).
If you work on having a positive mindset then there is a chain reaction of positivity that can happen in your life.
If you neglect your mindset and let it sit comfortably in negativity, you can expect a negative chain reaction.
So, if you are feeling the glass is half empty right now – this is a great thing to work on (if you are willing to do the hard work!).
Our lives are not static and our goals can grow and change in the same way we do. They can be influenced by both internal and external factors. So, as we learn more about ourselves and the world around us – our goal journey can require tweaking.
If you feel out of touch with your goal journey. There is no need to worry. The answer to these three questions can help you evaluate and make required adjustments.
Am I still excited about my goal?
Many things in life can stop us from reaching our life goals. Such as:
Being distracted by other priorities
Feeling unmotivated to take action
Feeling overwhelmed by the process
These are all normal issues we need to overcome as part of the process. But if your goal journey has gone off the rails you should reflect to see if there are deeper reasons to consider.
If you are feeling out of touch with your goals – take the opportunity to check and make sure they are still right for you.
The key to your motivation is to ensure your goal journey still excites you.
Self-reflect on the following:
Am I still feeling excited about achieving my goals? If not, why not?
Once you reflect on the questions above – you should be in one of two places.
Ready to reinvigorate your goal journey: In which case – check-in with your goal plan and make any adjustments you need to move forward.
Ready to start again: It is never a bad idea to go back to the drawing board with your goals.
Has my life shifted?
As our life progresses and our experiences multiply and what brings us meaning will naturally evolve as a result. As this evolves – so will our goals.
If you feel out of touch with your goal journey – take the time to self-reflect. Perhaps subtle (or massive) changes in your life require your goals to shift gears.
Self-reflect on the following:
When I think about what is most important in my life – does anything different come up?
If it does – consider what effect it has on your goals and make any required changes.
Where is my focus?
Sometimes internal factors creep into the way we shape and achieve our goals. These can come from issues such as:
Fear of failure
Comparison with others
These factors can influence goals and behaviors, and change their focus.
We find ourselves focusing on these issues and not the goals we need to be working on. We can find ourselves modifying activities to protect ourselves from being uncomfortable. And we can focus on the dark tunnel and not the light we need to reach on the other side.
Self-reflect on the following:
What am I trying to achieve and what thoughts are stopping me from taking action.
Try to understand why you are having these thoughts. (Continue to ask yourself: But why do I think that until you hit a root cause?)
If required, revisit your goals – and make any changes required.
As your lives evolve – your goal journey will too.
So don’t be afraid to keep re-shaping your goals. Continue to self-reflect and make the changes you need to go full steam ahead.
For some of us, this may feel like an uphill battle. But there is good news. The research shows that you only need to spend about 20% of your work efforts on purposeful activities to reap the benefits.
That is spending only one day in a five day work week on meaningful activities and you can avoid the associated negative effects like burnout and a life that feels… blah.
What this means for you?
If you don’t find purpose in your current role right now – you don’t need to quit your job. You don’t need to take a big leap and follow your passions and dreams (unless you want to).
Finding more purpose in your day could just be a matter of making a few small tweaks to your current role.
Signs you need need to dial up purpose at work
You may be asking yourself – do I need more purpose at work?
Here are some signs that you do:
You are bored at/with work
You feel like you work just to pay the bills
You don’t like your job
You don’t feel challenged at work
You don’t feel like your work is worthwhile or making a difference to anyone
If any (or all) of these resonate with you. Then now is a good time to look at improving how purpose shows up for you at work.
What you need to know about your purpose
Working out how to add more purpose into your day might not be straight forward. You need to understand yourself.
Understanding what brings you a sense of purpose is about understanding your “why”. You want to understand why activities feel fulfilling and worthwhile to you.
To understand your why – you need to start with a bunch of “whats”.
What are your interests?
What are your strengths?
What engages and excites you?
What motivates you?
What do you enjoy doing that benefits others?
What do you want to spend your time on?
What do you avoid doing?
What are your core values?
Looking at these answers holistically will allow you to connect with the things that are meaningful to you. And help you understand what you can tap into in your life and workplace.
The key to finding activities that bring you purpose is to think about the things that can encompass lots of your “whats” at once.
Ways we can find purpose at work
Now that you understand the sort of activities may feel meaningful to you. You can think of ways to apply them at work.
The list below provides different examples of how you can shape your experience in any role to try to dial up feelings of purpose.
Crafting is the art of making your current role feel purposeful (which you are aiming to do 20% of the time). Once you have identified the activities that bring you meaning – work with the people around you to make them happen.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. If your manager can’t change your duties – are there other activities you can create yourself? Like mentoring or starting an educational lunchtime program?
How you frame your role will go a long way to how purposeful it feels to you. Research that surveyed janitors working at a hospital found those who considered themselves as part of the healing process for patients had a purposeful connection to their work. In contrast, those who just saw themselves as cleaners did not.
Do you have activities that immerse you – make you lose track of time – give you the feeling you are in your element. This is described by positive psychologists as Flow. Finding flow in your work will help it feel purposeful.
Cultivating good relationships will improve your time at work and can open the doors to future purpose-driven opportunities.
Building relationships that allow you to educate and foster the talents of others will feel purposeful. Seize these opportunities when you can.
Purpose is fluid. New experiences and learning can help to shape your purpose journey and how it shows up for you at work.
Lean into things that interest and excite you and see where it takes you.
Research has shown being aligned with your organisation’s mission and purpose is a large factor in being happy at work.
If you can’t align yourself with the organisational goals – try to do it on a smaller scale. Does your purpose align with a personal client mission? Or, maybe to a project’s outcome?
If you can’t align your goals at work with your purpose – try to look outside of work.
Volunteering your time – using meaningful skills and strengths – is a great way to get purpose into your world. You may also tick the boxes in your home and family life to hit your 20% weekly threshold that feels good.
If you have tried to do all these things above – but havent got results that work for you – it might be time to consider a change. However, you can now create a checklist to use when approaching new opportunities.
The endless search for purpose at work
It is important to remember that purpose is fluid not set. So, you need to approach your journey with an open heart and mind. Be prepared to experiment and make sure you look to balance purpose and practicality.
There will be many opportunities lying in wait for you – so have fun with it. And remember – you only need to do it 20% of your week!