Do You Want an Easier Way to Achieve Your Goals?

Remember that middle-school essay writing tradition: “What I did on my Summer Vacation?” Today’s blog is my adult version of that exercise: What I learned at Summer Camp 2012 – An Easier Way to Achieve Your Goals.

Did you think I was kidding about the summer camp part? I did actually spend a weekend at a camp for adults. It was a joyful whirlwind of volleyball, trapeze, obstacle course, ping pong, and even a little bit of learning how to play Texas Hold’em poker. Big fun.

Now, here’s what I learned and interestingly, it is also Step 1 of my 7-Step Fast Confidence process. Now that we are ending summer and heading into the last part of the year, it’s the perfect time to re-visit your “how-to” plan for achieving your goals faster and with less effort. If you are not where you thought you’d be by the ninth month of 2012, it’s not too late to adopt the habits and mindset that lead to success.

My grown-up-camp moment that most resembled the challenges in my work life came when I tried to succeed at water skiing. I had been wanting to do this again for years and was excited to have my turn behind the boat. Because there was a long line of aspiring skiers I only had one shot around the lake. I had to decide whether I would go around on two skis (which is moderately fun but surely the safe route) or try to get up on a single ski (the rockin’ good time version). I only considered the single ski route an option because I slalomed that way 30 years ago and had a fantasy-laced notion that I would remember how to do it again.

I took a risk.

On my first try, I managed to stay up on the one ski for about a second, and then had the unwelcome experience of falling face first and being dragged with a 20 m.p.h. wake rushing through my eyeballs. Anyone else had a similar memory? Since I was only in the water for a few seconds they gave me another chance.

On my second try, I wobbled my way to standing position. That was the moment in which time slowed down. In those 3 seconds, my inner self talk packed in a long conversation that ultimately determined whether I would succeed or merely hold myself back and walk away with a memory of regret.

Inside my head it sounded like this: “Wow, the water is choppy, this is really hard, I’ll never be able to get steady and stand up straight.”

Which was followed by “I really want to have the fun experience of spraying as I cross the wakes, feeling confident and high, and having a huge smile on my face! I’ve been imagining how this would feel for a long time, and I want to be the kind of person who can be balanced and carefree.”

Then the conversation continued: “I can’t find my balance, I can’t sustain this wobble any longer, I’m struggling…I’m about to fall. Bummer! I really didn’t want to go home with regret that I couldn’t do this.”

At that point, I called to mind the picture I had of the experience I wanted to have and who I wanted to be. That led to deeper, and ultimately more authoritative voice on my internal loudspeakers. That voice championed me. And it was compassionate: “Its ok, just stay with it. I’m going to set my mind to do this. I CAN find my balance.” As I started to talk to myself like that, I started to lean back with confidence and relaxed into position. My self talk started to change: “I feel strong. I’m getting into the flow now…”

That picture in my head and voice of self trust showed me I could stop trying so hard and let my body assume a natural position that its done before. They guided me to decide that I was going to do it, and helped me to do so.

After I took my victory lap around the lake, the people waiting on the dock said to me “You looked pretty wobbly at first, but then you really got it together.” Little did they know the conversation I was having in my head that made me have that outcome!

What is a situation in which you are wobbling now?

What is the “I can” vs. “I can’t” self talk you have in your head?

Where are you oscillating between knowing who you really want to be and thinking that you can go for a risk versus talking yourself out of it and focusing on what you don’t know and can’t do (yet).

This struggle often consumes our attention and thwarts us in our efforts to persevere. It sets us up to judge our progress and then we can’t even get off square one towards our goals.

Here is how you can tip the balance, so that in your moment of wobble (we all have them), you can find your own confident voice and move forward:

Step #1: Have a clear idea of who you want to be, and the experience you want to have. Then…be a heat seeking missile for that experience. (I’ll share with you more about how to do that next week.)

While I was caught up in the stress of the moment I was setting myself up to lose the battle of balance – all I could focus on was the choppy waves and my spastic legs. Yet as I was wobbling, I brought to my mind the picture of an intention I had for myself. I wanted to be someone who enjoyed the sensations of summer, could lean back on my skies, and have a Cheshire grin as I spent one minute being master of the universe.

That picture took me out of the moment and gave me an endpoint to focus on. It activated a change in my internal soundtrack, it set me up to play different tunes on my mental iPod. Immediately and effortlessly, I started giving different commands to my muscles. I instantly became more sturdy even though there was no solid floor beneath my feet, and even though I was more relaxed. It felt like magic, but it wasn’t.

Once I had a clear idea of who I wanted to be and what I wanted to experience, I took my focus off the obstacles and stopped thinking that I couldn’t do it. My clarity gave me the destination that I could then start to find the roadmap for.

Consider how this approach differs from a conventional “coaching” approach that encourages you to achieve an external goal. If I had a goal of doing a lap around the lake on skies, I might have chosen the 2-ski option so I could check my goal off my list, but it wouldn’t have given me the same experience of joy. If I had only focused on achieving my goals, I might have criticized or yelled at myself for my early lack of performance and made an effort to fix it “Stop wobbling, you’re not going to get your goal. Straighten your legs!”

Instead I focused on the picture I had in my mind of who I wanted to be. I focused on the feeling and experience I wanted to have. And then naturally, with little effort, I became that person.

To have the results you want in your life, You must start with the first step: have a clear idea of the experience you want to have of yourself and then act with intention to create that experience.

Take 3 minutes now and identify:

What is the experience you want to have of yourself?

Who do you need to be as a person in order to create the results that you want?

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