happyholidaysWelcome to the final installment of the 'effective goaling' series. This is an invitation for you to take some time for yourself to make your life better than it already is. Set a goal, organize the necessary steps and support, learn how to deal with setbacks and obstacles, and celebrate your outcome. Allow 2009 to be your best year yet!

How's it going, my lovelies? Are you making the most of this private, personalized, hands-on goal-building tutorial? How has working through last week's questions made your goal easier and clearer for you? There's no time like the present, and if you're only just joining us today, please read the last two posts as well on how to set goals the SMART way and organize the steps you need to take to reach them.

As we are working on making our dreams come true, let's take a moment now to visualize ourselves and our world at goal. Imagining yourself in your goal-world is another strong stimulant and motivator for those times when life happens, obstacles appear, and things get in the way of our plan.  What does this look like: We've reached our target weight or bank balance, we moved into the house or country we wanted, we bridged the gap. We've identified our life's purpose and mission, we've created the personal relationships we needed or survived the separation that was tearing us apart. Who are you when you've reached your goal? I invite you this week to sit with yourself and find your answers to these questions and all the others that will arise if you let them.

What do I mean by, "who are you when you've reached your goal?" You are always (at least) the sum of your experiences and your decisions. The person you know now who's a comfy-couch potato on the weekends may be surprised by the new you who can't wait to try horseback riding with the other expats. You've always been a push-over but have now successfully implemented a plan to set healthy, respectful boundaries. What does reaching your goal mean to you, and what for your loved ones?

As you grow and change, your surroundings will, too, at least eventually as you change your outlook and attitude. However, long-term friends and family who may not be part of your process can be surprised when confronted with your new results. For example, they might only know you as the one who always takes care of everything, so once you start saying 'no', those long-term relationships will continue doing what they always did but finding different results. If reaching your goal will affect your interactions with others, how can you lovingly prepare those relationships that may be affected and enlist them for your support? As always, the follow-up question: When are you going to talk to them?

The new healthier version of you may have tons more self-esteem and get loads of dates, or the newly trained and educated you might find herself promoted into a higher pay-grade. What are your beliefs about thin and fit people? What do you think of people who earn salaries in the high-end six figures? What about thoughts like, "People that age shouldn't wear jeans" or "thin girls are cranky because they're hungry - only big girls are happy because they eat what they want." Maybe you grew up thinking you'd have to be agreeable in order to be liked? Whatever image you used to have of yourself and your role-models, now that you've reached your goal, are you still comfortable in your own skin, or is it time you found new, more supportive beliefs?

When visualizing yourself and what your surroundings are like once you've reached your goal, also pay attention to sensual details, like colors, smells, texture, sounds, and feelings. What do your surroundings look like? Are you in a lush green forest swinging on a hammock, or maybe collecting sea shells by the ocean? If the latter, which ocean? Can you hear the waves, taste the salt in the air? Can you feel the sun shining and warming your skin, or are you stretching out your hands over the logs in the fire place at the après-ski? Can you smell the shot of Amaretto in your hot chocolate? How does the new silky gown feel across your waist, or your skinny jeans on your butt, how easily do the running shoes slip off after the marathon? Are there children crying, people chattering, music in the background?

In case you grow anxious and start visualizing a nightmare, take a deep breath, know that you are safe, and that none of your fearful thoughts can harm you because they are not real. Focusing on the worst possible outcomes will only cause more stress, instead: concentrate on the good stuff! Yes, your delightful dream scenario may not be real yet either, but instead of causing stress it will put you in a positive frame of mind. As an exercise, try adopting an attitude of inverse paranoia for the next three days. Says Stan Dale (Human Awareness Institute), "I operate as if everyone is part of a plot to enhance my well-being".

Last but not least, remember to celebrate your successes, especially the small ones. Most televised or published "overnight successes" took at least a few years to materialize, and most people still have to work hard to make something look easy. Read this excellent article and watch a short video of Malcolm Gladwell when you scroll down the page. Reward yourself with things that you find rewarding, they may be visual check-marks on your to-do lists, a book or podcast, weekend trips, guilt-free time, baths, manicures, a new video game or chain saws - you name it.

One of my goals for 2009 is to continue providing you with valuable blog posts, and to that end I will look into more topics you may find helpful, as well as keeping the articles easy to understand, and as short and sweet as possible. As I will be taking next Saturday off to enjoy the season, I wish you all HAPPY HOLIDAYS, whatever and wherever you may be celebrating, and I look forward to seeing you back here next year. Til then, take care, be happy, and have fun!

Thanks to Wad for the free image.

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