“So, what do you do?”
An innocent and most likely well intentioned woman asked me this at a dinner party the other night.
Deer. Headlights. My life flashing before me. Scene!
Darn it, where are the exits in this place?
I hate that question. Stumps me every time. And with every career change, I become increasingly stumped.
“Well, you see, I’m a chef. Actually, I’m a pastry chef. But I’m also a video editor. And a producer. And a project manager at a health care media channel. And a nutritionist. Oh and I’m a writer. Love to write. Always have. I used to manage for lululemon too. I went to law school once upon a time. Thought I wanted to be a lawyer. Turns out I didn’t. I also run an online lifestyle magazine called Delectable You. My husband and I own a yoga studio in Malibu…”
I’m like a fem bot in Austin Powers whose wires short circuit so badly that her head inevitably explodes.
Needless to say, usually the person on the receiving end of my uncomfortable stammering loses interest and walks away.
How can I be all of those things?
“Crazy broad…” I imagine most of them whisper under their breath as they shake their head and excuse themselves to refill their glass.
Wait! Don’t go! I don’t know how I can be all of those things…I just am! And your glass is still quite full. Hmmm…
For those gracious enough to humor my ridiculous responses to their question, they usually follow up with the second question I hate:
“So, what do you actually want to do?”
All at once, a flood of words rushes to my brain, and just as soon as they arrive, they are gone, leaving me completely stumped on how to answer that question, too.
I really need to start practicing the answers to these questions before my next social gathering.
Seriously, though, you would think that as someone who sets a lot of goals, and thankfully achieves a lot of them to—and who leads a goals group, for goodness sake—I would be well equipped to answer these questions on the fly.
But you, evidently, would be entirely incorrect.
Here’s the problem:
I love a lot of things. There is so much life to live, and I want to live all of it and more! So I try things. I try a lot of things. Some things, I love. Some things, not so much. And rather than stay in something I don’t love just to save face, I move on to something new.
Maybe that makes me flaky, or maybe (and more likely) it makes me passionate, sure of what I want, and certainly, sure of what I don’t want. And though the side effect of not having a neat and tidy answer to these two questions isn’t very convenient or becoming, I know this for sure:
What I actually want to do is to inspire people to live their best lives simply by living mine. I want to give people the tools they need to be inspired, to get motivated, to get moving and to continue the momentum of their precious lives.
One of the ways I try to do this is by leading a goals group here in LA. I’m fortunate enough to be surrounded by a group of incredible women, women who have achieved so much success in their lives that it’s almost too intimidating to be around.
Each month, those of us who are able, get together at one of our houses to share our successes, get advice on our challenges, and share our big hairy audacious goals for the future, however near or far.
Setting goals can be a scary thing, and even if you’ve been doing it for a while, it’s nice to have a reminder of how to set them powerfully so that you can be clear with the universe about the things you desire.
11 Tips for Setting Powerful Goals
1. Write your goals down if you don’t already.
Seriously. Writing your goals down helps to program them into your subconscious. And I have to say, as someone who has been writing down my goals for the last decade, it’s really rewarding to not only be able to experience the satisfaction of checking off a goal with the swoosh of my pen, but it’s also incredibly exhilarating to look over my past goals to see all that I’ve accomplished. At the time those goals were committed to paper, I was setting the bar high and completely outside of my comfort zone. So looking them over in the present, as my then future self, builds confidence and often gives me the strength to believe I can achieve the current goals I’ve set for myself.
2. Ask yourself: what is my purpose?
What is your personal road map for your life, your rule book? Because let me tell you something, my beautiful friend: you are not an accident. You matter. You matter not only to your loved ones, but to history, and to the universe. Having a purpose creates meaning. Your goals should be set with your purpose at the helm. Because otherwise, what’s the point? Purpose creates a sense of meaning behind everything you do, and so it allows you to decide what you will spend your time and energy on. What’s more, according to motivational speaker and author, Brian Tracy, intensity of purpose is the distinguishing characteristic of all high performing men and women.
So decide what your purpose is, at least for right now. Just pick something. It doesn’t have to be permanent just yet. But start somewhere.
To help you with this question, try any of the following exercises:
● Ask yourself if your name were Googled, what would you want to come up? Write it down.
● Write your own obituary.
● What do you love to do so much that you would do it even if you weren’t paid to do it?
Once you’ve come up with your purpose, post it somewhere you can see it every day.
3. Ask yourself what you may be believing about yourself that is keeping you from achieving what you really want.
It could be an old belief you used to think about yourself (I’m not smart enough, I don’t know enough, I’m not experienced enough, etc.) For more help and guidance with this one, check out this video from Susanne Conrad, leadership and communication adviser, and one of my mentors:
4. Do the circle exercise.
Draw a big circle on a piece of paper. Write everything that you want inside the circle (joy, love, money, etc.) and everything that you don’t want outside of the circle (stress, anxiety, etc.). Often times we know what we don’t want, but don’t know what we do want. When we set goals from there, we are essentially aimless because there is no focus or clarity. So do this exercise and then set your goals from what you know you want.
5. What is your 10 year vision for your life?
Close your eyes and see yourself in 10 years. Where are you? Who are you with? What are you doing for work? Where do you live? What do you see? Decide where you want to be in 10 years: career, family, education, geography, income, net worth, lifestyle, health, relationship. Write it all down, and don’t hold yourself back. If 10 years is too far away, try five years. If that’s still too much, try two years. Do what works for you.
6. Categorize your goals and pick a timeline.
I tend to separate my goals into three categories: Career, Health and Personal Goals. For a timeline, I choose 10 year, five year and one year.
7. Trickle back.
To start setting your specific goals, trickle back from your 10, five or two year vision. For example, if your goal is to own 25 clothing stores by January of 2024, then your five year goal should have you owning at least five to ten clothing stores by January 2019, and your one year goal should have you owning at least one to three clothing stores within the next year. Make sense?
8. Set goals in the present tense.
I am, I will, I do vs. I want to, I hope to, I wish. For example, I am a doctor vs. I want to be a doctor.
9. Set SMART goals.
Make sure your goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. For example, I want to be a doctor vs. I am an emergency room physician at St. John’s hospital in Santa Monica by June 5, 2015. Which one feels more powerful to you? Being this specific about your goals helps to clarify exactly what you want not only to you, but also, to the universe.
10. Set a deadline.
Without a deadline for your goals, it’s easy not to feel accountable to them, and inevitably, to put them off. If you find yourself approaching the deadline and you’re not ready yet, no problem. Simply adjust the deadline and keep moving toward it.
11. Set big, hairy, audacious goals.
When I first started setting goals, my one year health goal was to work out three times a week. My coach, Rhiannon, said that wasn’t big enough. She asked me why I wanted to work out three times a week. Eventually, after asking me “why” another five times, I blurted out: because I want to have a six-pack like Fergie!! There, she said. That is the goal. Your goals will create a sub list of mini-goals. If I wanted to have a six-pack like Fergie, of course I was going to have to work out three times a week. More, in fact. Your big goals create your sub-goals, which essentially become your to-do lists. So make your goals as big and bright as you are!
Happy goal setting!
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editorial Assistant: Kim Haas/Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo credits: Victor Bjorklund on Flickr