Stuck on a Goal? Here's How to Get Aligned
I interviewed one of our life coaching students, Heather, about what she learned in the course and how she is applying her NLP and coaching skills from the iNLP Center. She found a great way to integrate goal-setting with mind maps. Here's what she reported. Thanks, Heather!
I’ve had this great idea for a small business for nearly a year now. I make artisan, all-natural, old-fashioned candy, and I planned to step it up from Christmas market stalls to selling it through an online shop, possibly eventually progressing to a physical storefront. The concept was sound. The steps to get there were manageable and financially do-able, and I loved the work. My goal and the dream of attaining it had that feeling of solidity and vividness to it that I only get when everything gels.
Why then, was I dragging my feet to get the necessary pieces in place to launch? I’m not usually one to procrastinate, particularly when a project or goal inspires and excites me, but in this case, there always seemed to be something else taking my time and attention. Though I was certainly busy with my ‘day job’ and other obligations, I knew that I could make the time if I really wanted to make this dream of mine a reality. And I really wanted to.
Didn’t I? The question and my subsequent hesitation were perplexing.
I decided that in order to answer it, I would need a little help.
Friends and family provided encouraging feedback and advice, though no one could see any reason for my recent reluctance. I decided I needed to go back to the start and approach my goal with a beginner’s mind. To help me with this task, I chose to use a mind map on the goal-setting process from IQMatrix.com.
For those of you not yet familiar with these handy devices, a mind map is a diagrammatic tool used to visually outline information, especially bulky or complex concepts, in a simple and understandable manner. Mind maps help the user to quickly identify and grasp the structure of a given subject, enabling him or her to gain at least a cursory understanding at a glance. I had recently become familiar with Adam Sicinski’s mind map works, and here was the perfect opportunity to put one to practical use.
I purchased and downloaded the Goal Setting Process mind map, along with a written summary, and eagerly dove in. The summary alone was worth the money. A generous eighteen pages filled with additional information and useful diagrams, it walked me through the mind map process, including many helpful coaching-style questions to ask myself along the way.
Reading through the summary felt a little like I was receiving my own personal coaching session, and I hadn’t even gotten to the map yet.
The map itself was colorful and engaging, and it’s light-hearted illustrations managed to make me feel as though my struggle to accomplish my goal was not so serious - or uncommon - after all.
As instructed in the summary, I started the mind map ‘board game’ at the center by clearly identifying and defining the what, when and why of my goal, pretty straight-forward stuff. I had spent nearly a year researching and practicing these aspects of my business plan, and they were as solid now as they ever were. I felt a flicker of doubt that this process was going to help me solve my mystery, but kept moving through the map, following the black line as it directed me through the various sections of inquiry.
The next checkpoint was ecology, and I followed the trail through a series of excellent questions on the potential consequences for both achieving and not achieving my goal. What sacrifices might I need to make in the short and long-term? Who and what might be affected by the pursuit and achievement of my goal? I gained some excellent clarity on these points as I considered each and made notes in my journal. But no aha! moments as yet.
Next came the Goal Congruence section, which points the user down four paths of inquiry. Checking the congruence of a goal with our values, beliefs, and priorities requires brutal honesty with oneself. This is the arena of personal integrity. Does your goal align with what you say, think and believe? As Adam points out in his summary notes, if your goal lacks congruence with these areas of your life and psyche, then it will likely remain forever elusive. Progress will be thwarted, and things just won’t come together.
Hmmm… perhaps this was the clue I had been looking for to explain my procrastination and lack of motivation.
Looking down the four paths, I felt confident that I had good alignment in all areas. But one, small, pesky thought surfaced that was like a pea under the proverbial princess: I held the belief that sugar didn’t fit into a healthy lifestyle. My sweet tooth was something I continually strove to overcome. How could I then, in good conscience, sell to others the very things I myself was trying to give up?
I had clearly found the fly in my ointment.
In the summary pages, Adam suggests that, when confronting a life value that conflicts with our goal, this doesn’t mean we necessarily have to give up our goal. It may simply mean tweaking the goal or adjusting our values to bring them into better alignment. I asked myself: how might I match my core value of promoting good health and nutrition so that it supported the candy-making business instead of conflicting with it? Alternatively, how could I adjust or modify the candy business to genuinely fit into a healthy lifestyle?
Surprisingly, the answer came fairly easily over the next few days.
During that time, I didn’t actively search for an answer so much as let one surface. The mind map seemed readily accessible in my visual memory, and I found I could recall all of the various steps and components, as well as the lengthy notes I had made, fairly effortlessly. In the end, I found congruence between my core values and my goal through the choice of high quality, 100% natural ingredients, especially natural sweeteners, and the inclusion of a significant educational component for my customers on how to consume sweets safely and responsibly. Interestingly, coming to this conclusion for my future customers also allowed me to make peace with my own sweet tooth in the process.
The mind map also lead me through the inner work I would need to do in order to stay focused on the achievement of my goal through Building Momentum and Motivation, and an in-depth exploration of the more practical Design phase, including creating a blueprint and a clear plan of action. Having the map to guide me methodically (and relentlessly!) through it all was turning out to be extremely helpful.
The brilliance of the mind map is that one could choose to go as deep as time or effort or mind-frame allowed. I could easily have spent hours and hours in deeper examination and inquiry at any of the many stages along the map route, lingering where further personal work was required, and moving forward over those parts that I felt I had a firmer grasp on. The map was self-tailoring, fully adjustable to the user’s particular and unique situation and mental state.
Summing it all up:
Overall, the experience of using the Goal Setting mind map fell somewhere between playing a game of Dungeons & Dragons and engaging in a grueling professional life coaching session. But the results made all the hard work worthwhile: I had uncovered the snag in my progress, re-aligned my personal integrity with my goal, and gained much-needed clarity on my overall business plan.
I happily celebrated with toffee.
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Mike Bundrant is a retired psychotherapist who now trainers life coaches, counselors and those seeking personal development. He is a co-founder of the iNLP Center, which teaches students in 71 countries worldwide.
Mike is also an avid blogger who has been featured on major sites online, with a regular column at...