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Goals and Beliefs – Chicken and Egg

Goals and Beliefs – Chicken and Egg

Tis the season to be jolly. Tis also the season to look back on the year that was, celebrate personal growth, victories and achievements and reflect on losses, misses and down right stuff ups.

We individually reflect on the year that was; maybe in an MS Word generated letter to distant relatives and friends interstate or overseas, summarising how we did, who changed jobs, house moves, little Johnnies cricket scores, the Grandkids new teeth and so on. How much different from last year is it?

Then, in the Christmas hangover comes New Year complete with bagpipes, parties and resolutions. We will; improve business revenue, have a better sales quarter, cut costs; spend more time with staff and less on paperwork; go to the gym, lose weight, stop smoking; drink more (water) and so on..

Some of us write down our goals, type them up, make spreadsheets, print them in colour, and put them on notice boards. And some of us came to the conclusion; that New Years Resolutions (like affirmations) dont work so why bother? After all havent we got enough proof that New Years Resolutions and Goal Setting doesnt work, because we just did the that was the year that was exercise and not a lot happened like it was supposed to. Or did it?

For a few of us, New Years Resolutions are just not necessary because we already have our goals clearly written out, we regularly review and update progress, we put structures in place to hold ourselves accountable, and we measure our performance.

So, what is the difference between looking back on the year in December 2006 seeing a great year, lots of achievements and growth and feeling good; or seeing a bit of a non event, having Christmas dinner in the same house, same conversations, same complaints, same old, same old?

The difference that makes the difference is our belief.

If you believe you can, or believe you cant youre right Often misquoted and so true.

Have you ever set a goal, or had one set for you, and you really believed deep down that you couldnt do it? What happened? You were right werent you? Conversely have you ever had a goal where you knew for sure that this was a piece of cake? Yes, and you were right again, werent you? With all the experience, skills and knowledge you now have, could you go back and achieve the first goal? Maybe, probably. With the benefit of 20:20 hindsight what was the difference?

Take 5 minutes private time out for the next startlingly simple but powerful exercise

Look at a simple goal you currently have Write it down with its due date. Study it. Now, write down all your beliefs about this one goal. List everything positive and supportive and all the hairy beliefs as well. Leave nothing out. Done? Good.

Now look back at your behaviours in the last month in respect of this one goal, and delete those beliefs which have not been totally supported by your behaviours. (For example, your goal is to run your first ever marathon in June 06. You believe you are getting fit. You believe you are going to do it in under 4 hours. Your behaviour is that it is 7 months away you have not yet put on your running shoes to train! Put a line through getting fit, and put another line through the under 4 hours belief. Your behaviours do not support your stated beliefs). Is this getting tough?

Now, imagine Big Brother has been observing and recording your behaviours for the last month. Write down a separate list of what Big Brother would interpret your beliefs to be in relation to this goal from his examination of your behaviours. Be honest, you are the only person reading the 2 lists. (e.g. in the marathon example, I believe I am not capable) Compare the two lists. These are your real beliefs as you are living them in relation to this one goal. What are your lists telling you about your beliefs around this particular goal? Are they supportive of achieving the goal or limiting you and holding you back?

This was a simple exercise related to just one goal. If you found you only had supportive beliefs, then congratulations, you are probably well on your way to achieving that goal. Repeat the exercise for some of the goals you are not achieving, you may uncover a limiting belief holding you back. If so, well done again. You are now one step closer to achieving (or redefining) these goals also.

The lesson is: that when we believe we can we will. When we believe we cant we wont. It is that simple.

This lesson applies to you, your staff, and your kids, to everyone.

You may be wondering why one staff/team member is struggling to reach a target you set and another is effortlessly exceeding budget, when both appear to have the same skills etc. Limiting beliefs may be a factor. Whilst performance management is a useful tool, it is also a blunt one. Share this article with your team as an opening for discussions to explore if there are limiting beliefs holding someone back.

The great thing about beliefs is that they are just beliefs. Beliefs are just thought forms. The most powerful belief we can have is that we control our beliefs. We can change them at will! For those of you who now want to argue that point and tell me that you will go to war for your beliefs. Remember the tooth fairy? That belief fell by the wayside with a little new knowledge and a different perspective.

Look back into your history, how many other beliefs have you left behind with as you acquired personal growth, new knowledge and experience? Coming from Northern Irish Catholic stock – I attest to leaving a few unuseful but very strong beliefs behind along the way, thats growth.

So I repeat the most powerful belief we can have is that we can change our beliefs.

As you look at your unfinished goals again – examine them now in a new light, what limiting beliefs do you have which may have held you back?

Changing limiting beliefs can be as straightforward as speaking them aloud and acknowledging their existence. (Note: best done in privacy) However for the more complex limiting beliefs Performance Coaching may be useful.

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