Photo by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 ImageCreator
Often when we set a goal for ourselves (get a certain number of clients or a certain income, achieve a certain performance, take a project to completion on time and on budget), we become very attached to achieving it. Some people don’t even set goals out of fear of not achieving them which is an extreme version of attachment (you are so attached that you don’t even want to take the risk to not achieve it). We then start to take action toward achieving this goal, we are excited, motivated, inspired. Then, at some point, we start to doubt that we will achieve it. Progress is not as good as we had expected, obstacles show up on our way, we start to run out of time, etc…
That’s when we start to fall onto the other extreme, Resignation. We start to be resigned to not achieving our goal, which translates into less energy, less motivation, feeling bad, feeling like a looser and we give up.
Then we will set a new goal, with some doubts about our ability to achieve it already from the start, we will get inspired, motivated again to take action, and then fall back into resignation as soon as we will see signs that our goal might be out of reach in the timeframe we set. And we’ll start again, with a new goal and even less confidence in our ability to achieve it.
Globally, most of us oscillate on this Attachment / Resignation line and that is, at least for me, not very pleasant nor empowering.
Rather than oscillate on the Attachment/Resignation line, I would like to invite you to come from a different place. It might be tempting to aim at the middle of the line, not too attached, not completely resigned. But what I am talking about is not even on that line, but rather outside of this line: Commitment.
What are you committed to in life? The thing is, most of the time, our goals, at least our outcome goals, depend on external circumstances and although we would like to control everything, we can’t. Your commitment depends on you and only you.
I see commitment as threefold:
– Commitment to your bigger goal/vision/purpose: a six figures business, going to the Olympics, creating/growing a nonprofit, making the organization you run the best place to work, creating an extraordinary life whatever that means to you, etc…
– Commitment to your daily “blue collar” work: do the things you have to do on daily basis, even the unpleasant ones, no matter how you feel: give X number of calls, write, do your personal routine, train hard, serve people, etc…. Setting up a routine might be hard at first, just like when you start to pedal on a bike and start moving, the resistance is high. But then, as you keep going, you gain speed and momentum, and it becomes easier and easier. It is during that first part of setting a routine, when it is hard, that commitment can really help. Commit and don’t let any other option open. That’s how I started to meditate 4.5 years ago now and never stopped since.
– Commitment to your thing in the moment: Set a strong intention to be 100% present to what you are doing and to give your best: with a potential client, instead of being attached to get that person as a client (or resigned when she doesn’t seem to want to become a client), stay committed to serving her the best you can. When you coach, lead or manage, rather than being attached to “perform” or have an answer for everything, be 100% present to what’s going on, connected to the other person. In a race, before the gun goes off, instead of being attached to winning/qualifying/doing a PR, simply commit to give it all, to push through when it is going to hurt, because if you are not clear on this, as soon as the pain will arrive or things don’t go as expected, you’ll be tempted to fall into resignation, which limits your ability to perform.
It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t set goals and aim at them, just that you might get benefit from identifying what the bigger purpose behind this goal is, what the actions you want to take on a regular basis are and what it means to be 100% focused on your thing, and then committing to those and coming back to that commitment when you catch yourself falling into resignation. This will help you move forward and be in a much better place in the end than just being attached/resigned. This might also show you that those things are more important than your goal itself, that if you stick to your commitment, you will grow and become a different, better person no matter what happens. In the end, it might well improve you whole experience of goal setting and goal getting.