The Naked Guy: What is it you want to do with your life?
The Mother: I want to end world poverty.
The Naked Guy: Great. Then every decision you make from here on out should be in service of that.
How to Set Your Life Goal and Reach It - Inspired by "How I Met Your Mother"
I was actually inspired from watching How I Met Your Mother. (That makes all those wasted hours worth it, right? Yep, we will go with that.) It was the episode where you get to know the mother, "How Your Mother Met Me" (Season 9, Episode 16). It originally aired January 27th. Yeah, I love my DVR and I tend to hoard episodes of shows and then binge watch. Anyway, I won't get into the details of the episode since it was only the following conversation that spoke to me.
Whoa... Despite the fact that her answer was beauty pagent-esque (world peace, world poverty... whatever), his response made me stop and think. Do all my decisions support my end goal? Wait, do I even have an end goal?
Then yesterday a friend asked what I wanted in regards to my career. She wisely said "You have to know what you want in order to get it." Another whoa. She is so right and it spoke to me on a deeper level than she even intended.
I have known for a while that I am approaching this crossroads where I need to make larger life decisions. As soon as I saw this intersection approaching I let up on the gas pedal. Honestly, I have knowingly been driving towards it for the past six months and I am no closer to an answer now than I was then. If I don't make a decision soon then I am going to end up sitting at a self-made stop sign at this crossroads. Stop signs are no bueno. Once momentum is lost then it is difficult to get moving again. Nerd moment: In physics, we learn Newton's first law, the Law of Inertia. Basically, an object at rest will remain at rest unless acted on by an unbalanced force. What does that mean for me? If I stop at that stop sign then it will take a force to get me moving again. In other words, no matter what keep moving forward in life!
What do you do when you want to do everything and want to wear thirty hats at the same time? I don't have room for thirty hats in my closet (metaphorically and literally) so I need to narrow it down. How?
1 - Go to your core. What is the ONE most important thing to you? Let your gut finish this sentence: No matter what happens in my life, I want to ____________________. What was your answer? I imagine we will get a lot of "be a mother" answers rather than "end world poverty" answers like The Mother said. Just know that whatever you said is perfectly fine. It is personal to you and we are all different. No judgement here. You may not like or understand my answer and I am perfectly fine with that. What was it? "be an entrepreneur"
Next, take a moment to really think about your answer. The answer you gave should touch your soul. You should see evidence of having this want throughout your life. It might be more developed now, but chances are you can see touches of it even in your childhood. When I was seven, I went around saying I wanted to be a CEO. All I knew is that person ran the company. At ten, I was creating business plans for imaginary companies. By 18, the dream became a "maybe someday". By 24, the dream was lost and I resorted to the notion that working for someone else was a way of life. Now, I am reclaiming my desire. Can you see evidences of your answer throughout your life?
2 - Take a hard look at your life. Does every aspect of your life support what you want? It can be directly or indirectly related. For example, Jayme wants to run her own bakery. Currently she works in corporate america which has absolutely nothing to do with baking, but she earns a comfortable living. It is indirectly related because her savings will help her open a bakery. If every night after work, Jayme vegged out in front of the TV to watch hour and hours of trashy shows it would not support her want; however, an hour of trashy TV to relax from the day could be indirectly related. If it were hours of the Cooking Channel it could be directly related. Ultimately, it is Jayme's want, life and choice; therefore Jayme's judgement call. If you find yourself at an impasse (in situation that doesn't support your want but you can not change it today) then make a plan for change. What steps can you take to eventually change the situation?
3 - Make the hard decision and take action. You know what you want and you see how you can align your life to get it. Now is the time to make hard decisions and take action. This is where I struggle the most. My tendency is to gather all the details, create a thorough analysis and then make the daunting decision. The fact that I need to accept is that rarely do I ever have the time or the resources to gather all the data. I need to do what I can with the information I have to make a quick decision. Other people have difficulty making decisions based on fear. What if I make the wrong decision? I hate to burst your bubble, but chances are that you will make a wrong decision. If not now then in the future, but it will happen. Here is the beauty of life... decisions can be changed! My husband and I made the terrible decision to move from Nashville back to our little town in Alabama in 2005. Worst decision ever... After many detours and some good life experiences we made it back to Nashville. It may have taken seven years, but we corrected our bad decision and don't regret a moment. We made the decision to move back, made a plan, took action and here we are.
4 - Keep moving forward no matter what. I guarantee the road will not be straight or flat or even paved in some areas. Most likely you will have to make some turns and adjustments to your route, but as long as you keep your end goal in focus then your road will lead to it.
Let me tell you a little (or not so little) story:
I have a friend. We will call her Emma. Emma's life goal is and has always been to be a mother. As a child she envisioned being married by 24 and having her first child by 26. They would be such a happy family just like in the TV shows she watched. She would stay home with their four kids and her husband would provide for the family.
Emma was married at age 22, so her plan was on the fast track or so she thought. Three years and no children later, her husband finally admits that he doesn't want children and there is no way that he ever will. This was so disheartening to her because he married her knowing of her dream to be a mother. The next two years she spent hoping he would change his mind. He didn't. Then the next two years she constantly reminded herself of her vow "until death do we part". Now she was seven years into this marriage, three years off track and in a deep depression. The unthinkable happened. This man she was loyal to despite his selfishness admitted he cheated AND he got his mistress pregnant. He came to Emma stating the he needed to commit himself to his mistress for his child's sake. Yep, I will give you a minute to let that settle.
Obviously, they got a divorce. It took a long time for Emma to get over the betrayal and she still longed to be a mother. She thought about just having a child on her own, but couldn't bring herself to do it. Finally, at age 32, she met Robert. Robert wanted children and she got that in writing. They had a whirlwind romance, got married and starting trying to have children right away. Despite trying like happy jackrabbits, nothing was happening. A year of trying and nothing. She saw a fertility specialist who confirmed she was not able to bear children. Heartbroken doesn't even begin to describe it (you can also imagine the anger she felt because of the beginning of this story). Robert, a strong and supportive husband, immediately suggested adopting a baby and they didn't hesitate to move forward. This year, Emma turns 40 and she is a full-time mom to three adorable children with a loving husband. Her life certainly did not go as she planned, but she wouldn't trade Robert or those three children for anything.
Whew! What does that long-winded emotional story show? If you know what you want and don't stop chasing it then you will get there. Emma had the traditional woman's dream. Her road was rocky and unexpected, but she received her own personal version of the dream. It is perfect for her.
Next time, a choice crosses your path then ask yourself if it supports your life goal. If it doesn't then it is okay to say no. Keep focused... Oh, and please enjoy your journey!
What is your "life goal"? How will you reach it or have you already?
TAGS: Self Improvement