What do you want? How do you hope I/we can be helpful? What is behind your desire? By when will you be disappointed if that (your desire) has not been fulfilled?
Why am I asking you these questions, and why now? Because, if you are like me, then you have been evaluating the past year, and you are looking toward the year ahead in terms of your major life roles and responsibilities. There are things you are grateful for, and unfulfilled desires from 2013 that you would like to become reality in 2014!
I ask the questions above more than any others as a counselor and coach. Beginning with the end in mind is essential as part of goal-attainment. While talking therapy may well have the reputation of aimless conversation about feelings, "How does that make you feel?", that isn't the reality in the appointments we conduct, and it isn't what I train professional clinical counselors and life, leadership and marriage coaches to do. Talk about feelings? Yes, it's a part of complete conversations, but knowing what our clients and trainees 'want' and by 'when' is the first thing we attempt to understand.
Before I go further, I want to address persons of faith who might struggle with desires. (e.g., "My life is supposed to be about service to others, not fulfilling my desires.") Where do you think some of your desires come from? If you are intent about living a God honoring life then some of your desires come from Him. "For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose" (Phillippians, 2:13).
Do you have a passion to provide for orphans? Ask yourself, "Does God care about orphans?"
Do you want to provide for widows? Care for the homeless? Restore broken relationships? Feed the hungry? Abolish human trafficking? Restore the foundation of faith and family in your community? Ease the plight of children whose lives have been shattered by divorce? Help people get healthy and live abundantly energetic lives of purpose? Help people to discover and live their life purpose in and for the Kingdom of God?
Where do you think your desires orginated? According to Philippians 2:13 it is God Himself who wills in us to work according to His good purpose. He looks at the world, sees problems and needs, and moves you into position with character to uphold the competencies needed to meet those needs. You are God appointed to exercise the passion He has put into your heart and mind . . . unless of course it isn't. James addresses 'selfish desires'. But rest assured, you can answer the 'desires' question, "What do you want?" with confidence that it is something God cares about, then your desire to do something about it in your life and for others probably originated with Him.
So, back to the question? What do you want, and why do you want it? If you are serious about accomplishing some of the things that are in your heart, it will be important to pray and reflect over these questions.
Let met ask in another way: What would you like to celebrate a year from now? Weight loss, restored relationship, your business built to a certain level? Write a series of blogs, articles or books in the area of your gifting/passion?
What do you want, by when, and how will you know? That's the essence of a SMART Goal. (If you want a step-wise process, check out chapter 8 of our book, Marriage Coaching. The process applies to any potential goal, not just relationship goals).
"I want our home-based business to be averaging $2000/month by March 31st."
"I want to achieve and maintain my BMI weight by Easter."
"I want to resolve conflict in my (name the relationship) by having one 90 minute crucial conversation per week with (insert name) for the next 6 weeks."
The goal statements could be tweaked a bit, but you get the idea.
Have you heard that "Dreams are cost-free aspirations but that Goals have a budget and a plan?" It's not enough to simply talk about what we want. For it to become reality, we need to move to potential action-steps that will bring the goal to fruition. Other blogs I've written, and the goal chapter in Marriage Coaching can provide more detail if you need it. Simply said, generate lists of things you could do, want to do, and finally what you will do to accomplish the goal, put it on your calendar as a one time action, or something that you will repeat, and then do it!
I've written this to clarify my own thinking, and to challenge folks I'm responsible to lead (health coaches, health coaching clients, counseling and marriage coaching clients as well as trainees in calling coaching) to be clear about what they want and how to make it clear so that I know how to help them. And even though this is a pretty long blog, I don't want to leave before talking about 'why's' and 'what it will mean to you to accomplish __ goal", because if the why is motivating enough we will do the action steps to make the goal a reality.
Why do you want ___? (make a list of 10 motivators), and then also answer this question, "What will it mean to you when ___ is a reality?" These may seem like simplistic questions, but please don't neglect them. Change theory says that we are much more likely to accomplish goals that have a clear positive 'why' and to sustain the effort to get there when we know our why and we aren't just trying to avoid a negative, fear-based outcome.
Don't make this hard. Simply acquiring the habit of asking, "What do I want, by when, and why?" can make a huge difference in the quality and quantity of what we accomplish, and that can make a huge difference for us and others!
Carpe Diem! Jeff
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