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by David N Johnson

June 21, 2023

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Goals, much like a lighthouse, help us to navigate in the direction we should go. We’ve been conditioned to create them, to seek them out and achieve them. How many goals have you checked off your list?

Goal setting is a powerful tool. Many see the COMPLETION of a goal as the ONLY sign of success. I’d like to push against that, not to be contrary for the sake of being contrary, but to help you to think about it differently. The completion of the goal itself isn’t the only indicator of success. It’s also about who you become in the process.

We’ve all heard that it’s the journey, not the goal. It’s as ubiquitous a saying as there is, at least in relationship to goal setting. As such, we hear it, we note it, but that’s about it. It is a nice sentiment, isn’t it?

But, what does that mean?

Simply stated, it means that success isn’t arrived at. Rather, it’s something that you are when you beging to move in the direction of your goals. It’s who you become in the process. It’s about the growth you see FROM the journey.

Personal Development

I encourage you to think about the growth you’ll need to reach the goals that you’ve set for yourself. Reaching goals can be hard, very hard, depending on what the goal is. However, if you understand who you need to become in order to reach those goals AND put a focus on personal development, you’ll soon discover what it means about success being in the journey.

However, it’s the journey that we balk at. We want instant gratification. We want what we want and we want it now. We’re impatient for success and want so badly to skip the journey. Sometimes, the journey can be long and fraught with danger. That’s why we quit, because the journey is hard. It becomes too long and we forget the reason why we started on the journey in the first place.

If we focus on our growth and our own personal development, then we can rejoice in the person that we’re becoming. This is why I feel that stretch goals are important. If all we ever did was set goals that were easily attainable, then we wouldn’t need to grow to reach them.

Personal development is a broad topic with many different facets, but let’s cover the three tenets of personal development as I see them.

Tenet #1: Self-awareness & Reflection

Self-awareness is the foundation of personal development. It’s about understanding your own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, values, and beliefs.

Sadly, we lie to ourselves. We’re not aware of who we really are and why we do the things that we do. This is why it’s important to become self-aware so that you can look at yourself in a more truthful light.

Becoming more self-aware is a continuous process that requires dedication and effort. Here are some steps that can help in enhancing self-awareness:

  • Reflect Regularly: Reflection is an important part of being more self-aware. You should do it regularly. Set aside time, daily or weekly, to reflect on your thoughts, beliefs, and actions. Journaling can be a powerful tool, I encourage you to use it.
  • Seek Feedback: Ask for feedback from friends, family, or colleagues. Sometimes, others see aspects of ourselves that we are not aware of. Be open to this feedback and consider it as an opportunity for growth. Take this as constructive feedback and make the changes needed to get back in line with your growth trajectory.
  • Practice Mindfulness and Meditation: Being present and paying attention to your thoughts and feelings without judgment can increase self-awareness. This is an aspect of reflection but puts an emphasis on being present. Being present allows you to slow things down enough so that you can react the right way, as opposed to the quick and often wrong way.
  • Identify Your Values and Priorities: Clearly identify what is important to you. Understanding your core values and priorities can provide insight into why you behave in certain ways and make particular choices.
  • Observe Your Emotional Triggers: Pay attention to the things that consistently evoke strong emotions in you. Understanding your triggers can help you manage your reactions better. The better you understand your triggers, the better you’ll be of heading them BEFORE they trigger you.
  • Practice Active Listening: When engaging with others, focus on truly understanding what is being said, rather than thinking about your response. This can not only improve relationships but also provide insights into your own thoughts and behaviors.
  • Analyze Your Relationships: Examine the relationships you have with others. What role do you play in those relationships? How do they affect your emotions and behaviors?
  • Monitor Your Self-talk: Be conscious of the way you talk to yourself. Negative self-talk can skew your self-perception. Aim for a balanced and realistic internal dialogue.
  • Educate Yourself: Read books, articles, and watch videos about personal development and self-awareness. Learning about different perspectives and experiences can help you understand yourself better.
  • Seek Professional Guidance: Sometimes, it can be helpful to seek the guidance of a psychologist or coach who specializes in personal development, especially if you’re struggling with self-awareness on your own.

Remember that self-awareness is not a destination but an ongoing journey. Be patient with yourself, and be willing to make adjustments as you learn more about who you are.

Tenet #2: Goal Setting & Taking Action

Setting clear and achievable goals is crucial for personal development. In fact, the whole reason I even started this post is to convey the message that any goal worth achieving must include personal growth. If not, then it’s not worth going after. I’m not a fan of speaking in absolutes, as most things have exceptions but not this. If a goal journeyed towards doesn’t stretch you, then is it worth being a goal?

In other words, what is the goal of your goal? Any worthwhile goal should make you better for having achieved it. Each chapter of your life should mean something. Even if it’s an off chapter, it still should teach you something. What can you learn from it? Good or bad, everything has a lesson to be learned.

Goal setting should be clear and concise. They should help to give you both direction AND a sense of purpose.

Goals aren’t achieved because they are a goal. Goals are achieved because they are planned. There is so much information on goal setting and many different systems that can be employed. So, instead of rehashing one of the hundreds that are available to you, I’ll instead give you what I hope is a novel twist on the idea. One that integrates elements of creativity, mindfulness, and social involvement. Here is my 5-step plan:

Step #1: Discover and Visualize

Before setting goals, allow yourself to dream big. Don’t worry about what is feasible. Just ask yourself what you could achieve if there weren’t any constraints. Then, give yourself permission to dream about the possibilities. What if?

Resilience is important in both your personal and professional life. There will be setbacks. Once you learn to accept them as a natural part of reaching your goals, the better equipped you’ll become to face those challenges head on.

Then, create a dream board. Use images and quotes that resonate with your dream. The idea here is to create something real out of your dream stuff. Make it tangible. Use one of those big poster boards and get all arts and craftsy. This is one small step in making those dreams real, but don’t overlook their importance.

This is the first step in visualizing your dreams becoming a reality. Now that you have something you can actually touch, start to visualize what it would be like to achieve your dream. Actually SEE yourself as living that dream. What would your life be like? What has changed? What is better? How do you feel?

Really get in there and visualize what your life will be like. The more you can experience this way, the more it becomes. You can’t achieve what you can’t dream.

Step #2: Backcasting

Now that you have looked ahead, look back. Imagine that you’ve already achieved your goal and examine the steps you had to take to get to where you are now.

Write those steps down. Write a story or create a timeline that works backward from your goal to the present time. This approach can help you see unconventional paths or innovative steps that you may not have considered.

Step #3: Resource Mapping & Skill Building

Identify the resources that you currently have that can help you achieve your goal(s). These can be personal skills, social connections, or even physical assets. Look at the steps you outlined in step #2 above and figure out how your current resources can be used most effectively.

Next, identify skills you need to develop to achieve your goals. Instead of focusing solely on the outcome, set micro-goals for skill-building and celebrate each time you master a new skill.This will help your personal growth and will allow you to realize your goals quicker.

Step #4: Create a Social Conteact & Build a Support Community

In the pursuit of personal and professional goals, harnessing the power of your social circle can be an absolute game changer. This is where the concept of creating a social contract comes in. By sharing your aspirations with friends, family, or colleagues, you can set a mutual understanding that while you’re committed to relentlessly chase your goals, they’ll stand by your side offering the much-needed encouragement and holding you accountable.

Formalize this understanding in a social contract, which could be a simple handshake, a verbal agreement, or even a written document. This psychological commitment often proves to be an incredible motivating factor, as it instills a sense of responsibility not just towards oneself but also towards those who believe in our dreams.

The journey to achieving your goals doesn’t need to be a solitary one, nor should it be. This is why building a support community is such an invaluable step in goal setting. Surround yourself with a community of like-minded individuals who are on similar quests. This could be a close-knit circle, an online forum, or even a local club. The common thread binding all members would be the shared enthusiasm and commitment towards personal growth and development.

As part of a community, the exchange of progress reports, insights, and experiences can be incredibly enriching. Share your own progress, the roadblocks you face, and the milestones you achieve. Don’t hesitate to seek advice and feedback. Similarly, play an active role in the community by supporting others, offering insights, and celebrating their achievements. This reciprocal relationship not only bolsters your own resolve but also contributes to creating an environment where dreams are nurtured, and goals are realized.

Your goals deserve a network of support. By integrating the elements of a social contract and a support community into your goal-setting process, you pave the way for a more focused, motivated, and enriching journey towards your ambitions. Through collective wisdom, shared experiences, and mutual encouragement, goals that may have seemed distant or overwhelming become attainable and even enjoyable to pursue

Step #5: Implement Mindful and Adaptive Execution

In an ever-evolving world, it’s essential not only to set clear goals but also to pursue them in a manner that is both conscious and flexible. Implementing mindful and adaptive execution can be key to achieving your objectives while also fostering personal growth and self-actualization.

Mindful execution calls for a deeply engaged approach in your pursuits. Often, we set goals and mechanically act towards achieving them without truly being present in the actions we are taking.

By practicing mindfulness, you bring your full attention to the present moment and to the tasks at hand. This heightened awareness allows you to consider the impact and significance of each action and how it aligns with your larger objectives. It’s not just about ticking off boxes, but rather, immersing yourself in the journey towards your goals.

The result is a richer experience and a deeper connection with the process, which can make it immensely more fulfilling. When you understand the ‘why’ behind each step, it gives purpose to your actions and can lead to more thoughtful and meaningful progress.

On the other side of the spectrum is adaptive execution. This principle recognizes the fluid nature of both our external circumstances and internal landscapes.

Just as a captain must adjust the sails to suit the changing winds, so too must we be prepared to recalibrate our goals and the paths we take to reach them.

To implement adaptive execution, set regular check-in points, maybe weekly or monthly, to reassess your goals and the steps you have planned. Reflect on what has changed, be it new information, shifting circumstances, or personal growth that has led to a change in your priorities. With this reflection, you can make informed decisions about whether your goals still serve your larger vision or if they need to be adapted.

A synergy of mindful and adaptive execution is paramount. Being present and invested in each step of your journey ensures that you’re not just mindlessly chasing an end result but actively engaged in a purpose-driven process. Acknowledging the dynamic nature of life and being open to adaptation ensures that your goals remain relevant and reflective of your true desires. Through this balanced approach, goal setting becomes an enriching and evolving endeavor that can lead to both accomplishment and personal fulfillment.

Tenet #3: Continous Learning & Adaptability

Personal development doesn’t have an expiration date. It’s like being on a never-ending road trip where every pit stop has something new to offer. And guess what? There’s no such thing as too many pit stops!

It’s not just about getting another degree or certificate. We’re talking about the school of life here. You know, those Aha moments when you figure something out, or when you trip over your own shoelaces and still manage to turn it into a somersault! Every experience, be it a win or an oops, is a learning opportunity. Treasure it.

Change is the Only Constant

Okay, I know this sounds like a cliché, but stay with me. Imagine you’re a ship sailing across the oceans. Sometimes the wind changes direction. What do you do? Adjust your sails! The same goes for life. Your goals from five years ago might not match where you are today, and that’s okay.

Being adaptable means absorbing new info like a sponge, reassessing your path, and not being afraid to pivot.

Flex Your Adaptability Muscles

Let me share a little something with you. A few years back, I was dead-set on a career goal. I worked tirelessly, but then – life happened. I had to take a step back and reassess. At first, I was frustrated. But then I realized the detour equipped me with new skills and insights. I adapted my goal and, honestly, it turned out even better than the original plan!

So, how can you be a master of adaptability?

  • Embrace new experiences.
  • Be willing to reassess and modify your goals.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself.
  • Keep an open mind

Reflection Time

Let’s take a moment to reflect. Think about the goals you’ve set in the past. How have they evolved? What new things have you learned along the way? Remember, it’s not just about the destination but the amazing, crazy, educational, and winding road that takes you there.

Sail Onward, Brave Navigator

You’re the captain of your ship. Embrace the winds of change, keep learning, and don’t be afraid to adjust your sails. The sea of life is vast and full of potential.

Through thoughtful introspection and a dash of adaptability, there’s no telling how far you’ll go.

Remember, personal development is an exciting, lifelong journey. So, sail onward, brave navigator. May your path be full of growth, discovery, and endless horizons.

Building Resilience – Learning How to Bounce Back

Ever wondered why some people seem to take life’s punches and keep moving forward, while others struggle to get back up?

What’s the Big Deal with Resilience?

Imagine resilience as life’s shock absorber. It’s what helps you withstand and recover from challenges, stress, and changes – and let’s be honest, life loves to throw these at us!

In your personal life, resilience helps you navigate relationship woes, family dramas, or personal struggles. It’s that magical glue that keeps you from falling apart when the going gets tough.

In your professional life resilience is like a set of armor. From meeting tight deadlines to handling critical feedback, resilience keeps your stress levels in check and helps you face hurdles head-on without crumbling.

In a nutshell, resilience keeps you sane and functioning. Without it, every obstacle feels like a boulder on your shoulders. With it, you’re a rockstar, turning setbacks into stepping stones.

Goals: Your Training Ground for Building Resilience

Picture this: You’ve set a goal. Maybe it’s running a marathon, acing that promotion, or learning a new skill. You’re pumped, and then reality hits – there are obstacles, setbacks, maybe even some epic fails.

But wait, this is where the magic happens. Every time you encounter a setback, you face a choice: give up or solve the problem. Every time you choose to solve the problem, you’re flexing and building those resilience muscles.

Here’s how to build resilience while working towards your goals:

  • Break it Down: Divide your goal into smaller tasks. Achieving these mini-goals can give you a confidence boost.
  • Embrace the Hiccups: When setbacks happen, take a deep breath and treat them as learning opportunities.
  • Find Your Tribe: Surround yourself with supportive friends, family, or colleagues who can offer a different perspective or a shoulder to lean on.
  • Celebrate the Wins: Pat yourself on the back for the small victories. They add up!
  • Reflect and Adapt: Regularly take stock of your journey. What did you learn? What can you do better? Keep adapting.

Take the Leap, Embrace the Bounce

Life is like a trampoline – the harder you fall, the higher you bounce back if you’ve got the springs of resilience to support you. So, let’s make building resilience through goal-setting our new mission.

You’ve got this. Take the leap.

Expanding Your Comfort Zone – Escaping the Prison

Goals should expand your comfort zone. They should motivate you and expand you. A goal that is easy to reach isn’t a goal that will help you grow.

Use how comfortable the goal makes you feel as a gauge towards whether or not it’s BIG enough. The right goals will push you out of your comfort zone.

Comfort zones are like little padded cells that keep you locked away in a prison of predictability, false safety, and mediocrity.

While this self-made prison is relatively risk-free, it will stunt your growth. It’s like a maximum security prison and will keep you locked up tight. Isn’t it time that you made an escape plan?

I think that it’s time to let your inner superstar shine. It’s time to stop allowing your life to take the back seat. Coziness is a terrible driver. It never really gets you anywhere.

Step Outside and Let the Magic Happen

Now, let’s take a bold step outside that bubble. I’m not saying you should throw caution to the wind and go bungee jumping tomorrow (unless you want to!). It’s about taking small, calculated steps into the unknown.

Here’s the amazing thing: when you tiptoe outside your comfort zone, your mind expands. You discover new skills, new facets of your personality, and new perspectives. Your problem-solving skills go through the roof because, let’s face it, sometimes the unknown throws a few curveballs.

If you’re ready to expand your horizon, here is your action plan:

  • Start Small: Pick one thing that slightly intimidates you and give it a go. Baby steps, remember?
  • Find a Buddy: Team up with a friend who also wants to expand their comfort zone. Being in it together can make it less daunting.
  • Reflect and Reward: After taking that step, reflect on what you learned and how you grew. And don’t forget to reward yourself!
  • Repeat and Evolve: Keep pushing those boundaries. Each time, you’ll notice that your comfort zone becomes larger, and so does your world

Stepping outside of your comfort zone is like opening a treasure chest of possibilities. It’s where creativity blooms, connections are forged, and your true potential comes into the light.

So, what are you waiting for? Tear down those walls, embrace the uncertainty, and let your journey of self-discovery and endless opportunities begin!

Creating a Growth Mindset – Planting the Seeds of Potential

A Tale of Two Mindsets: Fixed vs. Growth

Imagine your brain as a garden. In one corner, there’s the fixed mindset – the belief that your qualities are carved in stone. “I’m just not good at math,” or “I’m not a creative person,” are mantras here. This corner is pretty but somewhat stagnant; not many new flowers bloom.

Now, travel to the other corner, and behold the growth mindset in all its glory! Here, the belief is that with effort, learning, and perseverance, you can develop your abilities and intelligence. It’s an ever-evolving, lush garden where new flowers of skills and talents blossom regularly.

The question is, where would you rather plant your seeds of dreams and aspirations?

Goals: Your Magic Fertilizer for Growth

Here’s the beautiful part: consistently working toward goals is like sprinkling magic fertilizer in your growth mindset garden. Each goal, be it big or small, is an opportunity to learn, adapt, and evolve.

When you focus on a goal, you encounter challenges (weeds!). But with a growth mindset, instead of backing down, you think, “How can I overcome this?” You learn, you experiment, and suddenly, you’re not just working toward a goal – you’re expanding your mind and abilities.

The Road to Long-Term Success

Let’s talk big picture. Why is a growth mindset your secret weapon for long-term success?

  1. Adaptability: In an ever-changing world, being able to adapt is crucial. A growth mindset keeps you agile and open to change.
  2. Problem-solving: With a growth mindset, challenges are puzzles waiting to be solved, not roadblocks. This mindset turns you into a problem-solving maestro.
  3. Perseverance: When the going gets tough, a growth mindset helps you stay committed and keep pushing forward.
  4. Continuous Learning: Being open to learning and growing means that you’re always adding new tools to your arsenal.
  5. Joy of the Journey: Lastly, a growth mindset helps you find joy and fulfillment in the process, not just the outcome.

Ready to cultivate your lush garden of a growth mindset? Start by setting a goal, embracing the learning process, and celebrating the small wins. When challenges arise, get creative and seek solutions. Be curious, be open, and remember that the garden of your mind has boundless potential for growth.

Growth is The Goal

This post got away from me in terms of length, but there is just so much to unpack here. Besides, I have a long commute, so it killed a bunch of time for me!

The bottom line is this: when setting a goal for yourself, learn to embrace the changes that you’ll be going through. Don’t hold yourself back and get stuck in your comfort prison because it’s cozy. Instead, lean into becoming the person you need to become to reach your goals. Focus on the process of change and the growth you see during the process, which just may be more important than reaching the goal itself.

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David N Johnson

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David N Johnson

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