Goal setting is an incredibly powerful tool for achieving results. By setting clearly defined, written goals, our ability to take the proper actions to create the results are vastly improved. However, just as failing to stretch after exercising will leave your muscles sore, goals can inadvertently lower our flexibility. So how can we balance the focusing power of goals and flexibility we need?
The first key to maintaining focus and flexibility is awareness. If we don’t stay aware of our life’s progression at the highest level, it is easy to lose either focus or flexibility. Awareness is the ability to see the forest, not just the trees. There are several ways you can increase your awareness and therefore increase your flexibility and focus.
Regular reviews are critical for improving awareness. Daily life can be very distracting. We have constant demands on us from colleagues, family and advertisers. Trying to get clear awareness in this situation is a bit like trying to write an essay while you are watching television. By scheduling regular review periods, we can cut out the noise for a brief moment to get the clarity and awareness we need.
I suggest doing short daily reviews along with comprehensive weekly reviews. Daily life can be a bit like walking through a forest. Although the weekly review can take up an hour or two, I always find it is similar to climbing to the top of a tree in the forest and scouting out the route ahead. Even though it can take some time to climb the tree, all the extra walking you do won’t matter if it is in the wrong direction.
The second way to improve awareness is to spend more time in reflective thought. Instead of turning on the television or finding something to do, try to spend just a few minutes thinking. By thinking about our own growth and other high-level issues more, we can increase our own awareness.
Our desire to be extremely productive sometimes leads us into a state where we always have to be doing something. By taking even a few minutes of our time to just think, it is far easier to reconnect with all of the big, long-term issues of our life. Remember, progress doesn’t matter if it isn’t in the right direction.
The second key to maintaining flexibility and focus is to accept growing pains. Whenever we go through a lot of new experiences or personal growth, growing pains can results. This occurs when the goals we set previously simply don’t reflect the higher level of consciousness we now have.
I have had multiple experiences of growing pains where the path laid for by my goals no longer reflected my level of consciousness. Goals that I had originally valued highly, suddenly felt very unimportant in the scheme of things. When these kinds of situations happen, you just have to cast off your old goals and set new ones. Goals are supposed to stretch you, not chain you down.
If we stubbornly keep our goals despite our change, growing pains results. We will feel incredibly unmotivated to work on our goals and will likely feel a whole host of negative emotions.
In these situations our focus stifles our ability to be flexible. We remain locked into our goals. By casting off these goals we can regain our flexibility. This situation is completely different that quitting a goal because it is too hard. This situation is the result of quitting a goal because you have no desire to achieve it.
Goals can often create unnecessary restrictions on flexibility. When you set a goal, you should only restrict what is important for the goal. You should make plans for your goal but remove or modify them as soon as you find a better way. By limiting your goal to what is critically important, we have a lot more room for flexibility.
Deciding what is important is crucial to this process. Knowing exactly why you are doing something is key to removing unnecessary parts. It is easy to create too many restrictions when you aren’t sure what is important. Goals work because they provide focus. If that focus is devoted to unimportant areas, they become useless.
The final key to maintaining flexibility and focus is to just do the best you can at the time. Aiming for a perfect solution will likely delay the action we need to create any solution at all. Just make the decision now. If you make a mistake, then quickly attempt to correct it. When in doubt, guess!
Maintaining flexibility and focus can be difficult, but these two qualities are necessary to achieving anything. Taking steps to keep them both is crucial. Increasing your awareness and clarity is the start. Accepting growing pains as a natural process of personal development will allow you to cast off goals that no longer represent your inner feelings. Finally, carefully setting goals to limit only to what is important will remove any unnecessary rigidity from your goals.