We all want to be better. The human experience is a minefield of wrought emotions and challenging circumstances. We struggle each day to know ourselves, to pursue the truth, and to behave in an honorable way. We want to perceive better, to manage our emotions, and to make decisions that help us live a more meaningful life.
But change is hard. We are the way we are because of a large mass of past experience, influence, and bias. None of which is very easy to overcome, even when we realize it is there and want to do something different.
We all want something out of life, a greater sense of joy, peace, or purpose. We are all heading toward a vision. The very first thing we need to do to change our life is to figure out what really matters to us. What do we really want?
When you dream of fame and fortune, what is it you are really after? Do you imagine achieving success so your friends will validate you? Why?
We often assume we know what we want because we believe our emotions can guide us (and have guided us). I want what feels good. But our emotions are fickle and not trustworthy, at least not when it comes to vision.
So, the very first thing we all need to do is ask ourselves some hard questions. Try to break through the cultural messages, our biased and experience-based self-defense, and the same false idols we’ve been hiding behind our entire lives. What do you really want?
We change, quite simply, through clarity. When we clarify our vision, we can more easily commit to it. This helps us wade through the myriad voices that spin us around and confuse our sense of purpose and vision.
For some people, all of this talk about vision and clarity feels like a waste of time. I confess I started writing this blog wanting to put down just the practical steps. Many of us are focused on “what do I do?”. Give me the quick answer. I’m ready to get down to it, to get to work.
But poorly aimed effort is just going to find you back where you started. We have to start with vision, otherwise we are just rushing into the wilderness with no compass.
That being said, the success of our practical solutions are also tied to clarity. Once we have a vision in place, we can set goals toward achieving that vision. Goals don’t sound fun and sexy, but they are the way we change. It is how we reroute our practices and our perspectives. Discipline. Consistency. Intention. It doesn’t happen overnight.
The biggest mistake people make when setting goals is a lack of clarity. How long is the due date on your goal? What exactly needs to be done? We promote the SMART goal approach. One of the things we say all the time is measure small, measure often. When we tighten up the expectations we have for ourselves, it leads to accountability and action. It leads to new patterns. It leads to change.