Decisiveness and intentionality are vital components of getting what you want out of life. Intentionality is the process deciding to take steps towards making a thought, idea, or desire a reality. It allows us to become focused and clear about what we are after. The simplest form of intentionality is Goal Setting. The first step in goal setting is the decision to actually create your goals. Once they are created you must review them and ask yourself why you want to achieve them. It is so important to become clear on the goal and the why. Understanding Why allows you to be sure these are the right goals for you as well aids in keeping you on track with achieving them. The last thing you want to do is to waste precious time pursuing goals that have been sold to you buy someone else. Goals that will not fulfil you because you are adopting the goals of those around you. Asking why allows you to think deeply about what you really want out of your limited time on earth.
It is so important to set goals not only for clarity but to begin programming our reticular activating system of our brain to focus on what is important to us. The RAS is a servomechanism for the brain and the more specific you are about what it is you want the more the RAS becomes laser focused to help you get there. Think about the last car that you bought. Did you notice that after you bought it you began to see it everywhere? Did manufacturing and sales of that vehicle increase 10 fold since you bought it? Of course not! So what happened? Your RAS now understands that your vehicle is important to you (you bought it, its yours and therefore its valuable) and now your mind is programmed to see it more frequently. Goals are no different. Once you have decided what they are and why you want to accomplish them your brain will become your ally.
Your brain can also be your worst enemy. Although you become more laser focused there are factors at play that are trying to hold you back. Fear is the big one! The mind begins to subtlety and sometimes forcefully talk you out of taking action. “I can’t do this, I don’t have the time, I am already ok with where I am at, what if I fail, what will others say, will I be judged etc.” Negative thought patterns and past experiences begin to increase self doubt and are the thief of action. Recognize that these negative thoughts are nothing more than a sequence of events that are not serving you. They are story that has a narrative that is not going to work in your favor therefore it is time to change the story. The new story is one in which you are in control of your thoughts, fully capable, and no matter what it takes will reach your final destination. You must believe in yourself and picture yourself as victorious. We call this confidence.
Confidence is not to be mistaken with ego. Confidence is simply the belief that no matter what happens you will figure it out. It is dynamic and situational. You may be confident that you drive from point A to point B safely in the summer but on a slippery winter road your confidence may decline OR you may be confident that you can complete a molar endo successfully and then you break a file or missed MB2 and your confidence declines temporarily. As well you may be confident that you can complete MODBL restoration but perhaps unconfident in your ability to complete impacted third molars. The point is that confidence is not static and you don’t simply have it or not. It is created through a) base line belief in yourself that no matter what the circumstance you will find a way to figure it out b) consistent execution. The quickest way to increase confidence is through increased competence and the fastest way to increase competence is action in the form of experimentation and learning. Learning can be self directed OR if you are looking to expedite the process you can learn from others that have already done what you want to do (mentors) OR Both which is always produces the best outcomes.
The path to attaining your goals will not be a straight line, rather it is likely to be a squiggly line. Failures, challenges, and setbacks will occur. Depending on how squiggly that line is you may crushed and decide to throw in the towel. Your mind may talk you out of continuing this journey, telling you quit now before you waste any more time, energy or money. You must resist the temptation to give up. Re-frame these circumstances not as failures but as opportunities to learn and progress. When you fail you must learn, course correct, and move on quickly! Keep this in mind when your feeling unconfident.
Step 1: List all your goals
TIP: If you find it difficult to specifically define all your personal and professional goals try this technique I learned from Jeff Bezos (CEO of Amazon). Jeff says when he decided to leave his cushy job on wall street and pursue this uncertain, high risk online business he was able to do it decisively using what he calls his regret minimization framework. On a blank sheet of paper write down everything you want to accomplish. Example: deep and meaningful relationship with my wife/husband and children, more social interaction with my friends, begin playing tennis as a hobby, inspire my family to be their best through great leadership, triple my income so I can provide for my family and increase my freedom, get in the best shape of my life etc. You can write down as many as you like no matter how big or small. Then ask yourself this question: on a scale of 1-10 (1= no regret and 10=significant regret) how much regret I will feel on my death bed if I do not accomplish X. Now list them in order of highest to lowest score. Your highest scores are the areas you must focus on. These are the goals that will help you achieve happiness, and ultimately live a life with minimal regret. A little secret: those with the highest scores are also your highest values!!! When you understand your highest values you can use them as a compass to help navigate your decisions in life.
Begin setting goals today. If you want a step by step process visit HighPerformancePractice.com and check out our Goal Setting Tool.