We’re approaching the one-year mark since COVID-19 altered the way most of us live our day-to-day lives. It’s been a year full of change and uncertainty. Research has shown that periods of uncertainty cause humans to reassess their priorities and goals, and this pandemic is no exception. Right now, you might realize you want more out of your work or that you’re looking for a career change. Or perhaps you have a big dream that you’ve always wanted to pursue.
Although it may seem daunting to pursue a dream during this challenging time, it’s rarely external factors that are holding us back. Research indicates that most of us are holding ourselves back from realizing our dreams because we are afraid to fail. Sometimes the worries or excuses are based on external factors, but often, they’re internal barriers that we erect to protect ourselves from disappointment. To actually accomplish something, it’s not enough to dream up a big vision, you need to get past the internal barriers and take systematic action. Going that next step, putting your dreams for your life and your business out there, and setting goals to make them real, takes bravery and boldness. Being bold and brave goes beyond the words, it’s a mindset.
Even during COVID-19, I believe it’s time to go from dreaming to doing!
The first step to setting empowering goals that resonate at a deep and meaningful level is to develop a vision. When I was first introduced to this concept back in the ‘90s, a vision was described to me as a picture of what success will be at a particular time in the future – it is the destination you’re headed toward. The goals you set, and your strategy for achieving them, are how you get to that destination.
The vision for my life has changed many times over the years. I’ve moved cities, lived in a different country, left a successful career to go back to school and get my MBA, took time off to spend with my 3 boys, and then reshaped my professional life to allow time with my family and my career. Each time I revisit where I want to be, I have to dig deep and be brave. Yes, there’s an element of excitement, the thrill of pushing the envelope and the joy of thinking about what would really make me happy, but significant change has always been a bit overwhelming for me. That’s probably why I associate setting goals with being brave and bold.
Years ago, when I first started my coaching practice, the prospect of going out on my own was pretty daunting. I went through my visioning exercise and wrote several iterations before landing on the vision for my new life: “Developing people to reach their maximum potential”. This vision inspires me to move forward and is the base for all of my goals from my personal development goals to my financial goals – they all go back to my vision.
Letting yourself freely explore all that is possible and then rooting those possibilities, in reality, can be frightening but very empowering. Moving past all of the excuses as to why it isn’t possible to concentrating on who, what, and where you want to be, helps to shift the focus from the impossible to the possible. Setting a vision allows us to move toward the future we want, not just react to present-day reality. Developing strategic goals grounds our vision in reality and provides a measurable plan of how we’ll get there.
Over the years I’ve collected a few helpful tips on how to move from your vision to developing and achieving meaningful goals:
Put your vision somewhere visible and look at it when setting goals
Once goals are set, go back and check in to make sure that they are aligned with the vision
Identify keywords or phrases that remind you of your vision. I refer to these as anchor words. This can be particularly helpful on days when things aren’t going exactly as planned and you need a reminder as to why you’ve chosen this path
Break large goals into smaller milestone goals. This helps to keep the momentum with ‘wins’ you experience along the journey
Deciding where and who you want to be in the future can feel overwhelming right now. However, you don’t need to put your goals on hold because we’re in the middle of a pandemic. Once you set your vision, you can determine a strategic path with measurable steps that will help you find the way to your new reality and crush your goals!
I’ll leave you with a powerful quote by Johann Wolfgang Goethe.
“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”
Heather Stark is an Executive Coach and Consultant who helps people unlock their maximum potential, break through roadblocks, and achieve personal and professional goals. She has an MBA from Harvard Business School and is a Certified Professional Coach with The World Coach Institute and a member of the International Coaches Federation.