This post was written by Aaron Sugarman, a Newfield graduate of the Coaching for Personal & Professional Mastery program.
If you find yourself with a sense of not being on the right track, not getting enough done, or just generally feeling unfulfilled, consider the advice the Cheshire Cat offers Alice in Alice in Wonderland: If you don’t care where you are going, it doesn’t matter which way you go.
So how do you put more care in where you are going? The first step is to ask some deep questions, [ones that probe into both what your goals are AND how you will define successful completion of those goals.]
When I first started working with a Newfield Network mentor coach, he asked me:
- What resolutions or goals are you ready to declare?
- What do you want to accomplish in this session?
- How will we know if we succeeded?
These may seem like perfectly obvious questions. But they stumped me. And now that I am coaching and putting these same questions to my own clients, I can tell you that I am not alone.
Which raises this question: Why is it that figuring out what we want, defining it in a useful way, and then going after it — can be so difficult?
Considering this conceptually only gets you so far, so I invite you to try this exercise for yourself. Find a quiet space, take three deep breaths, and consider:
- What goal(s) will you commit to taking on, right now for today/this week/this year?
- What will success look like?
- Will it be perfectly clear if you succeeded or not?
- Would a third party be able to see or otherwise confirm this?
If answers come quickly, brilliant. Sometimes they do. If they don’t, give yourself sufficient time to look. Monitor your emotions, your body, your self-talk. What comes up as you ponder the question of goals and chew over your responses? Anxiety, excitement, confusion? Did your body tense up, curl in, or relax? Did your breathing speed up, slow down, or stop for a moment? What insights are revealed by the reactions of your body?
If an answer doesn’t come at this moment, dive back into your day and let the question sit. Check in on it now and again. See what develops.
One roadblock to reaching goals that I’ve noticed in myself, and in some of my clients, is a physical and emotional resistance to making a strong declaration or commitment. Declarations are powerful statements! In Newfield’s methodology, we consider them a kind of “Speech Action”—words and phrases that can literally change the world. Declarations generate a new context; they initiate, conclude, or resolve. Notable examples include everything from The Declaration of Independence, to “I forgive you.”
Not surprisingly, my tendency has been to avoid making strong declarations! When I am unwilling to declare myself all in, I can find myself on the sidelines, less than fully engaged, connected, and energized. This is in contrast to times when I have been bold and made those strong declarations: I find myself sticking to them and this helps me engender trust: people see me as reliably true to my word. I feel more connected and engaged.
Another fruitful area for exploration is the set of standards you use to assess the goals you declare. That is, how do you measure good versus bad, or success versus failure? Sometimes, our standards can be outdated, borrowed (from our culture, parents, peers), or simply not as clear as they need to be in order to be useful. When we take the time to look at our standards, we may find that our goals are no longer as dispersed or abstract as our friend the Cheshire Cat. They begin to take on a clear shape.
To summarize: feeling directionless or unfulfilled is usually pointing to ungrounded goals. Take the time to find your roots:
- Dare to declare!
- Feel the sensations that arise in your body when you make strong declarations
- And, make sure you have some standards for success.
About the Author:
Aaron Sugarman is a Personal & Executive Coach, Leadership Coach, Emotional Intelligence Coach, Organizational Development, Creative Director, Idea Clarifier, Presentation Master, Ghost Writer, Dream Worker and Dog Walker. His approach is values-based and holistic, combining personal and professional development and exploring questions of motivation and the impact of emotions and physical state. He has worked with some of the world’s leading creative talents in business, media, marketing and entertainment for the last thirty years or so. Aaron’s coaching draws on diverse experiences and interests ranging from business consulting and creative development to neuroscience, psychology, Zen Buddhism and yoga. He is certified in the Emotional and Social Competency Index, a 360-degree assessment that helps leaders generate new insights, build on their strengths, and address areas for development.
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