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How to Engage Your Goals Effectively

Engaging your goals asking the right questions.

Do you ever think about how you think? Imagine if we were to portray your thinking process, what would it look like? Daydreaming? A constant chatter? We can’t engage our goals effectively that way. We need to improve our thinking to improve our actions. How we think matters because it affects how we feel and consequently, what we do. In the last insight we explored how to set and achieve goals, and the importance of making them exciting. Now we’ll explore how to engage your goals to make significant progress.

1) Thoughts to thinking

To-do lists are tempting. Writing down your goals is useful but you have to be careful to keep that list short and clear. Too many goals and you’ll find yourself wandering where to start or what to do. The trap to look after is being impatient. This happens when you wander and fidget with thoughts about the outcome. The best cure to this trap is to thinking about the process: the steps that will take you closer to that outcome and which step you can take right now. Now is the key. That’s where you stake your claim. Sometimes when I wake up, my mind begins to get full of pessimistic and distracted thoughts. The funny thing is sometimes I don’t even realize this. You need to be active with your thinking to break that cycle!

2) Focus on meaning

Thinking is not have thoughts—especially random thoughts. Thinking is active, conscious, and creates meaning. It produces ideas: like how to take another step. Thoughts do not. Thoughts tend to be passive and automatic (our usual chatter). Unlike thoughts, active thinking facilitates to ask questions like: now that you have set really exciting goals, how can you begin today? What is the first step you will take right now? Or how can you shrink the change in a way that you work towards your goal? Of course, my automatic thoughts focus on how long it will take, or how scary it is, or you name it.

To shift from thoughts to thinking, start by becoming aware of them. Slowing down and realizing that we are on auto-pilot helps us pay better attention. Use empowering questions like: how can I begin to think actively about what I really want? How can I engage in what I really care about? What can I do to start or continue right now? Keep asking until you see yourself focused on what is truly meaningful and moving towards your goal. Finally, stay committed to your goal! When are you most likely to get distracted from your goal and what will you do about it? Always think actively about what really matters to you.

3) Feel the change

Seriously, some weeks I feel so overwhelmed that I just end up writing side notes all over my journal and the books that I’m reading—but I don’t get any writing done. Or I convince myself that tomorrow will be a better day to begin. But today, I moved from automatic and tired thoughts to active, fun, and energized thinking! I felt better almost instantly. With better thinking, comes better actions because you feel better. You feel better because you are in charge. Being in charge starts with a simple interruption of the useless thought as we’ve seen.

So ask yourself: what can I do right now? Am I focused, deliberate, and present right now? Monitor yourself to see if you’d made any progress. You certainly don’t need to be thinking actively all day long, but with a conviction that you will when you need to.  When you catch yourself having thoughts about the inevitable problems and frustrations, remind yourself to ask how you could have more fun taking the step. How can you make the change smaller and manageable?

You are in command.

Make a change.

Go for it!

Juan F. Diaz

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