Today marks the third and final installment of our Goals series. If you haven’t read the first two posts, you can check them out below.
When you have liberated yourself from the stress and frustration of unreachable goals, you are free to channel your mental energy toward goals that actually serve you. However, well-crafted goals are not a guarantee of success. The problem lies in sticking with your goals long enough to build habits, and creating habits that self-sustain. Self-sustaining habits are the turning cogs behind the facade of your ultimate objective. They are the mechanism that allow you to exist and just be, rather than continually investing mental energy into planning and doing.
The birth and growth of habits that self-sustain is a complex process of trial, correction and reflection. This is best achieved with the guidance of an impartial party, such as a health coach or other professional relevant to your goals. That being said, you will always be the ultimate expert on you, and the primary tool that is needed in the habit-forming phase is self-coaching. Self-coaching is the process of mindfully experiencing intentional change in your life curiously, consistently and compassionately.
When we ask ourselves whether we feel better or worse, exhausted or invigorated, frustrated or inspired with every small lifestyle change we implement, we are self-coaching. When acting on our goals brings a measure of discomfort, rather than distract ourselves with the comfort of old habits we must peer into what the discomfort truly is. Why are we uncomfortable? Is it a discomfort that might lessen with time? We must discern the positive discomfort that comes with growth from the negative discomfort of a goal that is aligned with values that someone else has assigned to you, not the values that are native to your heart.
This curiosity must be applied to every goal that we try on, every success we celebrate, every priority that we downgrade and ignore, and every attempt at changes that leaves us without the desired outcome. Consistency in the analysis of our own behavior is often more exhausting than the changes that we execute due to the mental energy it requires. In large part, this mental energy comes in the form of frustration at our wired patterns. We know how to do better and we want to do better, so why don’t we just do better?
Negative self-talk gets in the way here, and we must be vigilantly and radically compassionate with ourselves in order to break through to the changed behavior that we want. Mindfulness allows us to be aware of our physical and emotional reactions to our experiences, and also allows us to release those reactions without allowing them to take the reins and sabotage the remainder of the journey to our principle objective.
The curious, consistent and compassionate approach to our attempts at behavior change really boils down to just one question: Is what I am doing sustainable?
You should be asking yourself this question at every turn in your journey. When things are clicking, when things are not clicking, when you are on a high or when you are feeling totally depleted: is what I am doing sustainable? For the lucky among us, life is long. The habits we forge are meaningless if they cannot be adapted to our life at every stage. No matter the level of success you are having with your goals, it is meaningless if the actions required to achieve them are not sustainable.
Be honest with yourself about whether you can you see yourself performing a behavior (once it has been mastered) for a prolonged period without it wearing down your body, mind, soul, or loved ones, and be kind to yourself when the answer is ‘no.’ Seek out support to rethink your approach before you have time to second-guess the entire journey. If your goals were well-designed to begin with, course correction is often just a conversation away.
This concludes our three-part series on goal-setting. If you have health and wellness goals that you are ready to pursue, head over to my contact page for a complimentary phone session to see what health coaching could do for you. If you haven’t already liked my Facebook page, what are you waiting for? It’s right here. Thank you for your support.