What motivates us to do our best in whatever we’re working on? Having a sense of purpose behind our task. We aren’t working by sheer force of will; instead, we’re motivated by a passion for the job and an internal drive that keeps us going. Meaningful work is the best work.

The book of Proverbs reminds us that not having the correct vision or insight into your life can be destructive, and this destruction can affect us physically and emotionally. Think of old Disney cartoons portraying a weary businessman trudging to work each day with dark circles under his eyes, going through the motions with a sense of depression and languor.

By contrast, think of a task that is imbued with deep meaning for you, and how differently you feel about doing it compared to something that seems to have no purpose. If you’re experiencing dissatisfaction in your current job, how much of that is because your work feels like it has no meaning or direction?

Personal coaching provides a setting to help you gain a new perspective on your work and life, so you can find a deeper meaning for what you’re doing and gain a fresh spark of motivation and drive.

What Do You Really Want?

What are your key objectives for your career, besides making money, gaining prestige, or being associated with a particular business or leader? Deep down, do you really desire to work in this field or position?

If you never stop to ask yourself what you really want, your decisions might be based on the impulse of the moment or whatever you perceive your most pressing needs to be.

Sit down for an old-fashioned brainstorming session. Imagine if you had the choice to craft the career you really desire. What would that look like? Write it down, even if it seems silly or entirely out of reach.

To achieve your goals, you’ll need a plan. To make a plan, you’ll need to know what you really want. To understand what you want, you need to take time to think about it. A personal coach can help you unpack your desires and what they look like specifically for you.

Answering the question, “What do I really want?” should be as open-ended as possible in the beginning. After you’ve formulated all of your true desires, then you can start to set goals and identify which ones are needs, wants, or fantasies. Which of your goals are the most important, and why? Which ones are most likely to succeed?

Purchasing a more reliable vehicle is a realistic and essential priority. Buying a BMW is a luxury. Transportation is a need, but expensive transit is a luxury. Expecting someone to give you a vehicle for free is a fantasy. And here you’ll see what underlies most illusions in life: wanting something without having to work for it.

Here are a couple other examples of desires that are disconnected from effort or reality:

  • Wanting to be a famous singer, but not wanting to leave your hometown.
  • Wanting to speak a second language, but not wanting to put in the time or effort to learn it.

Now that you’ve identified your desires and which ones are realistic, you can think about channeling your energy into specific, realistic goals. You won’t be able to accomplish everything you want, so you’ll have to narrow your focus. Which goals are the most important, and worthy of your time, energy, and money?

A personal coach can help you narrow down the most important goals to work towards. Some of your dreams will have to wait, which is why it can be helpful to have an outside opinion as you make decisions about what to pursue.

What’s Next?

After identifying a few realistic goals, the next step is to break the goal down into action steps based on achievable tasks. Break the tasks down as much as possible so you can gain momentum as you achieve each level.

Your personal coach can help you move from your overarching goal to individual tasks that need to be completed, starting as soon as possible. You need that single-minded, holistic focus so that you can accomplish your goal successfully, and you also need small steps that you will move you toward your goal on a regular basis.

If your goal is to have a more reliable car, you might plan a few simple tasks to achieve that goal, like getting a side job, setting aside your earnings, and purchasing the vehicle. The plan will most likely need adjustments along the way, so be prepared to be flexible and roll with the punches.

If you run into an obstacle, modify your plan or reconsider the goal altogether. What if you can’t find a second job? Maybe you can consider an alternate source of income or choose to sell items you already have instead. Instead of buying another car, can you pay to get maintenance done on your current vehicle or carpool with a coworker who lives nearby?

Of course, it’s likely that the tasks will change along the way, but this gives you a starting point that’s a lot more doable than a general goal. Having a sounding board in the form of a personal coach can help keep you on track and figure out if your tasks are manageable and concrete.

What if you have more than one overarching goal to work towards? As long as the individual steps don’t compete with each other, you can make progress in multiple areas at once. If you want to learn to play the piano, you can decide to buy a keyboard, make space for it in your house, research teachers in your area, and set aside time in your day to practice.

All of this planning can be counterproductive if you spend more time thinking about your goals then putting them into action. It’s more comfortable to sit down and think about your dreams and make lists than it is to carry them out. The section below called “The Enemy Within” will discuss the planning/execution disconnect in more detail.

Count the Cost

Our dreams often don’t happen because they’re not easy to achieve. Accomplishing a goal requires thought, planning, sacrifice, and expense—not just financially, but the cost of our time, energy, and emotions as well. When we choose to pursue one thing, we’re deciding not to pursue something else. We have to consider how our pursuit of a goal will affect the people around us.

An aspiring screenwriter once asked his wife, “What would you say if I wanted to move to Hollywood?” She immediately responded, “I’d miss you.”

If you’re going back to school, it will cost time and money. If you buy a new car, it will cost money. Doing research on achieving your goals takes time. Every activity we engaged in takes time and energy, if not money. As you review the steps of your plan, ask yourself, “What sacrifices will I be making to accomplish this? How will it affect my relationships, emotions, finances, and health?”

Besides the more obvious costs, don’t forget to consider the opportunity cost of reaching your goals. Whatever you decide to eliminates other possibilities. If you’re spending $100, you’re removing the option of buying anything other than your current purchase with that money.

Whatever item you don’t choose is the opportunity cost of your decision. This same factor plays into time management. Whatever you’re not investing your time in is the opportunity cost of your scheduling decisions.

You don’t want to be blindsided halfway through your journey by realizing that you’ve neglected essential priorities to pursue your goals. Consider all aspects of what your plan will cost you before getting started.

The Enemy Within

Sometimes we’re inspired thinking about our dreams and planning to achieve them, but when we start taking the first steps, we quickly lose our enthusiasm for the task. We start looking for work in a particular field but freeze up in the first phone conversation. We imagine ourselves succeeding in our chosen field, but then begin to doubt ourselves and feel like an impostor.

It’s important to sort out legitimate self-assessments from negative self-talk. If you’ve ever watched a competition show on television, you know that far too many people were not told the truth about their lack of ability by the people around them. On the other hand, there will always be someone who’s better than you in any given area, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try at all.

You are a unique individual out of the billions of people in the world. Whatever you bring to your chosen career and craft is different than what anyone else can offer. Your creativity is still legitimate, whether or not it’s worth a great deal of money.

Fear can stop us from pursuing dreams that we might excel at. The negative voices in our heads can silence the voice of creativity. Fear of failure or even fear of success may plague us, or maybe criticism or bullying makes us feel unwilling to take risks. Moving beyond these fears is essential.

Remind yourself that you do have a choice to pursue your dreams and that you were made in God’s image as His unique creation. Don’t listen to negative self-talk. Your personal coach can help you create a reasonable assessment of your abilities. Not everyone can do everything, but we all possess natural talents and the capacity to learn. With dedication and hard work, you can cultivate those abilities into skills that will help you in your life and career.

No matter what your past has been, you can’t change it; but what you can do is take action now that will benefit your future.

Additional Resources

Each of us has an internal emotional landscape that was primarily formed during our childhoods, including trauma we may have experienced. If we want to make consistent progress in our lives, it can be helpful to examine that landscape and figure out how our past is still affecting us now.

If you had a parent who was very critical or emotionally abusive, you might have a harder time than usual drowning out negative self-talk. If you’ve experienced a series of humiliating setbacks, you might have a magnified fear of failure and feel unable to excel at anything.

A licensed mental health counselor can help you work through the hard parts of your story, any trauma you’ve experienced, and the struggles you’ve faced. You’ll gain a new perspective on your life and be able to reframe the narrative so you can grow and heal emotionally.

Holistic mental health involves integrating the mind and emotions, allowing us to pursue and achieve our goals. This requires a lot of emotional energy. Therapy and personal coaching are two sides of the same coin. Therapy will help you understand your past and how it’s affecting you today. Personal coaching assists you in moving forward toward a successful future.

Focusing on improving your emotional and mental health will pay big dividends as you imbue your life and career with a new purpose.

Final Thoughts

Scripture reminds us that as children of God, sometimes we don’t receive His good gifts because we don’t even ask Him for them. We can use this truth as an analogy for our personal goal-setting and decisions. Sometimes we feel helpless or stuck because we never ask ourselves what we truly want and can realistically achieve. We’re too busy feeling afraid and inadequate.

Making progress in a meaningful life sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Being emotionally mature and having our anxieties in check sets us up for success. On the journey towards our goals, we need to keep time in proper perspective: the past is gone, and the future is yet to come. This current moment is the only one that allows us to take action. The decisions we’re making today will determine whether we’re making progress or falling further behind.

Living with intention can change everything and getting help can make all the difference! A personal coach can provide a skilled and experience perspective as you take steps toward a more meaningful life.

Photos:
“Thinking,” courtesy of Klearchos Kapoutsis, Flickr.com, CC BY 2.0 License; “Chillin”, Courtesy of Guillaume Bolduc, Unsplash.com; CC0 License; “Consultation,” courtesy of Nik Macmillan, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Alone”, Courtesy of Pxhere.com, CC0 License

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