We consciously know we want to improve our relationships, take on a new endeavor, experience something awesome, find love, read 100 books, go to therapy, lose 30 pounds, feel the rush of skydiving—but then we hit the roadblocks.
This time of year the process of goal setting takes on a fun, exciting veil. We get jacked up about wiping the slate clean, starting fresh, and reinventing ourselves as we declare "new year, new me!" over and over again. But the truth is, goal setting is complex and confusing. It takes hard work, soul-searching, and time spent asking and answering hard questions.
Jen Sincero talks about how the subconscious and conscious mind work in opposition as we live our lives in You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life (an incredible book, which happens to be the first-ever Enkindle Book Club book in the Facebook group!). She explains that our subconscious mind runs the show based on information we've gathered since childhood and learned from people around us as we established our beliefs about how the world works. These beliefs become the guidelines for how we live our lives, and conveniently, we are typically totally unaware of their existence.
These could be beliefs like:
Money is evil.
Love leads to heartbreak.
Sex is a sin.
Self-care is selfish.
Regardless of what they look like, we all have them, and they are self-limiting, especially when it comes time to set goals. When we put pen to paper and establish what we want to change, how we want to grow, or expand our knowledge, we typically are coming from a very conscious place. We consciously know we want to improve our relationships, take on a new endeavor, experience something awesome, find love, read 100 books, go to therapy, lose 30 pounds, feel the rush of skydiving—but then we hit the roadblocks.
Our subconscious mind throws everything we believe we know about how the world works in our faces and we fall off the wagon, make decisions that don't align with our goals, and go back to what we are used to, which just so happens to be the opposite of what we are trying to do. Sincero compares this to trying to drive the car with one foot on the gas and one foot on the brake.
So what's next?
First, plug into that conscious mind and write those freaking goals down. This isn't a time for excuses, it's a time for dreams. Think freely and make a mess.
Next, gather the facts. Have you tried to do this before? Where did you fall off?
Now, you have to dig in. Look at the places in your life that you desire to change. Really step back and look at what stories you've told yourself in this arena. Maybe you desire to connect to yourself with a routine yoga practice, but constantly find yourself going back to the idea that spending time and money on yourself is bad, selfish, a waste. These ideas certainly didn't come from the place where you set that goal.
One of my goals for the year is to practice being vulnerable, asking for help, and owning my story. This greatly challenges my normal behavior, which is to stuff those feelings down, pretend it's all good and basically just wait until I implode—a product of my subconscious belief that successful grownups don't have feelings.
Our minds are bonkers, you guys. In order to make the changes we desire for our best life, we have to recognize that.
This brings me to what I feel is the most important practice in goal setting. You have to become aware. The only way to work around the subconscious mind is to become intimate with it. You must understand why it is putting you through this fresh hell before you can maneuver your way around it. You will most definitely meet roadblocks, but if you are aware that you are just stumbling your way through your mind and remain committed to your goal, you're going to get there.
I'll leave you with a portion of solid-gold quote from Sincero that I will likely Sharpie on my bedroom wall, I love it so much.
"You are perfect. To think anything less is as pointless as a river thinking that it's got too many curves or that it moves too slowly or that its rapids are too rapid. Says who? You're on a journey with no defined beginning, middle, or end. There are no wrong twists and turns. There is just being. And your job is to be as you as you can be."
Here's to the curves and rapids in 2018, friends. Let's dig in.