What are the goals you have set for yourself? (You do set goals don’t you?) The goals you’ve set might be things like owning a house, having a certain income or getting into a certain position with your career. Your goals might be focused on your relationships, your health or your contribution. You have made decisions about exactly what you want to have in your life.
If you are setting clear objective goals with deadlines then you already know the role clarity plays in getting the results you want. As Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t know where you are going you might not get there.” Deciding what you want is critically important to achieving anything. Most people don’t even do that and end up becoming as Zig Ziglar says, “wandering generalities instead of meaningful specifics.”
More Important Than Goals
There is a decision you need to make that is more important than the goals you set for defining what you want to have in your life. These are the decisions you make for defining who you want to be. Who you are will decide your life far more than the environment you try to create around you. Of the few that set clear goals for there life, few of them really ask the question, “Who do I want to be?”
Deciding who you want to be transcends the personal goals you set for yourself. Setting a goal to improve your fitness or wealth is just another “to have” goal instead of a “to be” goal. Making this decision doesn’t have anything to do with goals at all. The question of who you want to be ultimately reflects your attitudes and beliefs about life itself.
The decision of who you want to be will make a far bigger impact on your goals, your success and your happiness than anything else. In my research of what makes people happy and successful the same answer kept coming up, it doesn’t matter what you have but what you are. Success comes to successful people. Seems painfully obvious, but it makes a lot more sense than some of the ignorant assumptions that success comes from resources, education or support. Who you are manifests your world more than any other factor.
I used to feel that who you were was a constant. I used to subscribe to the notion that setting a “to be” goal was ridiculous because my genetics and parental upbringing made that decision for me. Instead, I felt, the best you could do was to expect results within the framework this decision had set for you. As a fairly shy and introverted kid I felt that was just a character trait that I would just shape my life around.
Finally I realized that this whole concept was complete garbage. I was the one who decided who I became in my life. Nobody else. I’m not going to listen to some questionnaire, government study or friends and family who try to tell me who I am and who I am going to be. Seeing as I just finished my second Toastmasters speech and I took home Toastmaster of the Evening award, I think I have plenty of evidence to say that we have control over this decision.
Visualize it Clearly
Every day I visualize clearly about the person I want to be. I make this visualization vivid and precise. How does this person talk? How does this person dress? How does this person solve problems? How does it feel to be this person? Ask yourself these questions as you visualize your ideal self. Think hard about whether you are congruent with who you want to be.
I received a comment recently saying that I was very enthusiastic speaker. This isn’t an accident. When I imagine my ideal self I see myself as being extremely enthusiastic, energetic and overjoyed. I visualized that result clearly and made a conscious effort to behave and act in a way that is congruent with that image. Who I am today isn’t an accident, by luck or even largely by genetics. Who I am today is the result of decision.
Notice the little things about your ideal self in your vision. Often these little things will give you clues for uprooting and changing behaviors and thought processes that are incongruent with your ideal self. If you see yourself as being someone who puts great value on their health and you eat a lot of junk food, you are putting distance between who you are and who you want to be. Take control of that habit and put it into congruency with who you want to be.
Being is Not About Setting Goals
Who you want to be isn’t a goal. You are whoever you decide to be. Goals are set because external things take time to manifest. Deciding who you are committed to being in your life does not. The moment you decide that you are going to be a happy, enthusiastic, passionate person, you become one. Simply make sure that all of your actions are congruent with this new image and you will move towards the life that this person lives.
The idea of deciding who you want to be might sound scary to some people. We have been conditioned to believe in our society that we can change the reality around us, but changing our inner being, now that’s impossible. This is ridiculous. I am going to make the assertion that you will be unable to make any change in your surrounding until you decide to become the person who can make that change.
When I visualize my ideal self I see many things. I see someone who is extroverted, confident and courageous. I see someone who is empathetic, thoughtful and wise. I see someone who is enthusiastic, passionate and overfilled with happiness. I see someone who has the maturity to take control and take action. I see someone who has the sense of humor to see the world as a place filled with incredible fun, enjoyment and adventure not just sacrifice and drudgery. I see myself as someone who does his best to contribute and tries to pursue options that help others while simultaneously helping himself. Finally, I see someone who is devoted to constantly and expanding his very existence of life.
That visualization is specific, clear and compelling to me. I am that person.
Goals like having the perfect body, getting the right habits or earning a certain income take time to manifest. I’m not rich and it will likely take a fair bit of time before I achieve all the knowledge and skills to become rich. I don’t always have perfect communication skills and I still have fears that relate to social situations. Those things are external and expecting them to manifest instantly is both foolhardy and ignorant. But our decisions about who we are manifest in a moment.
Reinforce With Environment
What happens when we don’t have a clear vision of who we decide we want to be. In these cases we become like the masses, shaped and molded by our genetics, environment or both. We become our defaults and life becomes a game of luck and circumstance. As a result we become trapped in the position that was dictated to us by fate or chance.
Even a clear and compelling vision of who you want to be has to resist against the strains of your environment. If you see yourself as optimistic and enthusiastic and you are surrounded by friends who are depressing and nihilistic, being who you want to be will involve a lot of difficulty. If you see yourself as being organized and precise and you are surrounded by mess and confusion, your environment will strain against the vision you’ve set for yourself.
Don’t allow these incongruencies to exist. Start shaping your environment to reflect the image you see for yourself. By having your environment reinforce your identity, being who you want is far easier.
Start with the tangibles of your environment. What does your house look like? How is your appearance and the clothes you wear? If they don’t reinforce the identity you want, change them. If you want to be a person who is healthy and fit, don’t fill the refrigerator with junk food. If you want to be a person who is successful in their career and motivated to achieve, do you have a clean and efficient workspace?
Once you’ve made changes to your environment, make changes to relationships and organizations. If your friends don’t reinforce the person you want to be, get some new friends. Loyalty to someone who is going to keep you living below what you truly desire is false. At the very least, shift your time to spend more of it with people you feel accurately represent your image. Make sure that your efforts to decide who you want to be aren’t in conflict with your environment.
I want you to think really clearly about who you want to be. Make your visualization compelling, meaningful and specific. Most of all, make your image so inspiring that you will drive towards it every day. Ask this question, because you will become whatever your answer is to it.
Who are you?