How often have you set new goals to actually end up not achieving them? If you’re like most people, it’s not even worth thinking about.
What usually happens is that we create our grand plans, get excited about them and make a few of the changes in our lives. And then sometime later we realize we’ve slipped back into old habits and routines.
Luckily, we can turn to the teachings of Buddhism to learn more about setting goals and achieving them.
Buddhism has become more popular in the West in recent decades as it helps take a focus away from goals to live more mindfully in the present. You would think Buddhism doesn’t have much to say about achieving goals.
That’s why we’ve written this article, to share a different perspective. When you consider the teachings of Buddhism, it’s possible to bring together a focus on living the moment with making progress in achieving your goals.
With the new year having arrived, now’s the time to embrace this perspective so you can achieve your goals while living mindfully in the present.
The Problem with Goals
What usually happens is that we set clearly defined goals with deadlines, defining the actions we need to take to achieve them. We end up focusing on the goals, shifting our focus to the future.
This is what brings forth anxiety, as we constantly are reminded of how far away we are from reaching our goals. We end up losing motivation and the whole process of moving towards our goals invariably falls apart.
We end up coming up with new goals and new action plans, and the whole thing just repeats itself over and over. It’s crazy – and as Albert Einstein once said, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Be Clear on Your Core Values
Before setting goals, you need to understand what your core values are. What do you stand for? What are the most important things in your life?
Vales are things like love, security, adventure, passion and success. Once you’re clear on your values, you’re able to make decisions about what to do with your life.
It’s important to understand that other people can’t decide your values for you. We’re all different, and that’s why it’s difficult to just read online about what to do. It’s about self-inquiry and figuring this out on your own.
As Mahatma Ghandhi once said: “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
Shift From a Goal Mindset to a Value Mindset
One you have your values established, think about the goals you’ve had and ask yourself why you want to achieve them. What is the result of the goals that is aligned with your values?
How do you want to feel when you’ve achieved your goals?
What this does is help you focus on the feeling that comes in the future, rather than the specific goals themselves.
Then you are able to visualize yourself having already achieved that goal. It brings the outcome into the present, and you start aligning your current mental state with the reality of having already achieved the goal.
You can visualize in more areas of your life. What would your average day look like? What kinds of decisions are you making?
Go really deep and even incorporate this into your meditation practice.
See and Feel Your Vision Every Day
Every day make sure you’re spending time to visualize the future you’re creating, and then incorporate this into your daily practices.
When you’re in the show, imagine yourself in a state of living our your values. Think about what your day would look like.
Be mindful in the present moment about which parts of your day are matched with the value based future that you’re creating.
Over time, you’ll start to see that the difference between the future you want to create and the present is getting smaller. Before you know it, they will be one and the same.
How This Relates to Mindfulness
Mindfulness is about slowing down to notice what is happening in the present moment without judgment.
When we set goals, we end up being aggressive with ourselves, getting frustrated with the gap between the achieving of the goal and we’re we are today.
Goal focus on what we don’t have, whereas visualizing the future puts us in a state of already being there.
Mindfulness helps us to be in the present moment, notice what’s right in our lives and be grateful for those things and feel good.
Using an approach based on mindfulness, you feel and visualize your inner self each day and make choices based on “who you are” instead of the actions that should be taken to achieve a result.
4 Steps to Make Your Dreams Happen
With all of this in mind, we put together 5 steps to follow to free yourself from the destructive nature of goals and actually make your dreams happen.
- Determine what your core values are.
- Write a vividly detailed description of your new average day.
- Each day, set an intention for how you want to feel and who you want to be.
- Continue to monitor and review
Using this approach, you’ll continue to make progress in achieving your goals, while feeling a whole lot better and making your dreams a reality.