THE 5 “SMART” GOALS IN YOUR LIFE
Some men dream of worthy accomplishments.
Others stay awake and just do them.
This book was written to help you to understand and move towards your life goals.
Goals begin to develop from early childhood, and can become a positive, motivating, healthy focus of our lives.
Children like to dream about being superman, having incredible powers, being a princess or a star athlete with all of the applause and trophies. Some children dream of having their own little island or being invisible and able to explore without boundaries.
Although they may not know it, these first goals are emotionally-driven and they involve the search for involvement, respect, security and freedom.
These “SMART” terms; security, respect, involvement, freedom and excitement are really our most dynamic emotional goals. One or more of them will propel us forwards during the course of our lives.
Our emotional goals are often put aside as we mature and begin the search for jobs, relationships and financial security. When we disregard our emotional goals we are often unfulfilled in our careers, off-track in our educations and unhappy in our relationships.
Use this book as a guide to help you find and then follow your emotional goals
1. Introduction by the author
2. The New Meaning of Goals
3. Goal Achievement Ingredients
4. Common Obstacles to Reaching Goals
5. The Truth About Goals
6. Case Histories
7. How to Achieve your Emotional Goals
8. Positive Strategies for Achieving Emotional Goals
As a therapist for more than 30 years my professional goal has always been to help clients move towards getting what they want out of life.
In this fast-moving world loosing sight of your goals can be a tragedy
Making a commitment to find out what your goals are and to pursue them is a personal choice. It often takes time, energy and help along the way. In my research and in my day to day practice I have found that the foundation for all of this important work is to know your history and to understand yourself.
We all have had challenges and obstacles in our lives. This is not news.
What is news is that we can change things as adults, define who we really are and what matters to us and then go for the gold.
There is a brief tutorial at the end of this book that may help you to get into the mind set that you need to open your mental strong box and use all of the mental tools inside in the pursuit of your emotional goals.
We live in an intense, fast-paced society and we are under a great deal of pressure. Daily life is complex and demanding. Most of us are aware that we have to balance present realities with some firm planning for the future.
And the future seems to be closing in on us.
We are bombarded by ads that warn us about not saving for retirement; we are warned about not preparing for calamities of all sorts.
Some of us are under such pressure that we either work 24/7 to just take care of today and we throw up our hands at the concept of planning for next week, next month, next year.
These are trying times.
Life is certainly less simple and less predictable than it used to be. People move around a lot more, change jobs, change partners and change belief systems.
How can you even make a plan for the future in times like these?
Making plans, thinking about a step-by-step process leading to an outcome is the healthiest thing that we can do. Instead of becoming part of the rush towards tomorrow, instead of becoming overwhelmed, we can find ways to step back and think about which way to go. Instead of worrying endlessly about 10 years from now we can think about how to get there. Instead of agonizing about what we did yesterday we can move forward with purpose and commitment.
What do we want to move towards?
We want to move towards a mind-body state that resonates with purpose, meaning and joy.
This mind/body state is achieved when we are on the path to achieving our emotional goals
Life without emotional goals is a dark, confusing journey. When we aren’t moving towards our true emotional goals we may experience boredom, dissatisfaction, frustration and sadness.
There are three major domains in which smart “emotional” goals play a vital function;
• the career domain; the job at which you spend much of your waking hours
• the relationship domain; specifically our relationships with family, friends and close colleagues
• the self-growth domain that includes your mental and physical functioning and all of the things you do to enhance your mind, your body, your spirit.
Workplace stress in terms of job burnout is experienced by 40 percent of U.S. workers. People are not meeting their career goals and are unhappy and anxious. Depression is the leading occupational disease of the 21st century and accounts for most lost productivity.
In the relationship domain, we find divorces on the increase and instability in relationships causing much grief. People are self-described as unhappy, anxious and frustrated more than ever.
The self-growth realm demonstrates similar patterns. People are struggling to set goals and wind up with broken resolutions and disappointed feelings. Adults leave their churches, decide not to vote, and refuse to watch their diets and to feed their minds. Youngsters have little faith in the religions; academic institutions and the drop out rates in high school and college are high.
The excessive rates for burn-out and drop-out can be linked to a basic lack of understanding about goals.
Emotional goals are both the end result in terms of what we want to achieve and they motivate us in the achieving process.
Goals may be clear and obvious to our conscious minds or hidden in our psyches
We are going to see how emotional goals can become healthy or unhealthy over time. The goals that most people pursue in their lives tend to be in the unhealthy realm although they started their existence as positive emotional goals.
Transforming unhealthy emotional goals into healthy emotional goals is the purpose of this book.
Empowering you to understand and to appreciate your own positive emotional goals will transform your life and you will no longer be constantly searching for the meaning and happiness in your life.
Here is a brief case to illustrate what we mean.
Mary is 34 years old and single. Her goal is to be thin and fit into her sister’s size 4 clothes. This has been the driving force in her personal life for a long time. Mary diets, goes to the gym after work and sometimes before work, she researches eating plans and surgical techniques and she talks about her goal a lot. She doesn’t have much time for anything else and focuses exclusively upon her goal. Mary’s life is organized around dieting, checking her weight, running treadmill and criticizing her shape in mirrors.
Mary is often disappointed and unhappy.
She was not always this way. During early childhood Mary liked to play with dolls and other kids. She usually chose the role of “teacher” and loved to read to her dolls and show other kids how to paint and draw. In her early teen fantasies, Mary saw herself as a Princess Dianna type person. She liked the way that Dianna touched other people’s lives with her gentle wisdom.
Mary’s current goal appears to be dramatically different from the activities and thoughts that made her so happy as a youngster. Her current goal has, however, become a driving force, a motivational force and it dominates her life. Mary is frustrated but committed to the goal of a size 4 body and our society seems to support her in the quest for this objective. Her childhood and teenage emotional goals have been lost in the pursuit of thinness.
Living life by chasing unhealthy goals is something that we don’t want to do. In order to change this pattern we need to look at ourselves and the issue of goals from a number of different perspectives. The knowledge we gain will be the foundation for achieving goals in all three domains of our lives.
“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will, never grow” Ronald E Osborn
Goal Achievement Ingredients
In order to achieve a goal certain things usually need to be available. There are many publications out there with lists of things that you will need to accomplish your goals such as a plan, a certain amount of time, a method of tracking your progress and the desire to fulfill the goal. The ingredients that you usually find are based upon the kids of goals that Mary set for herself in the prior chapter.
Here are more basic ingredients that can lead to goal-achievement:
an understanding of what the emotional goal is and how it plays into all aspects of your life
an understanding of what the critical domains of what your life are
the ability to learn new things
resilient, flexible ideas for how to overcome obstacles
strategies and resources for maintaining your emotional equilibrium
a certain amount of pure luck
Goal achievement, when we are speaking about emotional goals, is a process. During the process of moving towards your emotional goals you will find that you feel better about yourself and your situation.
When we look back at Mary, we can see how her progress towards the goal of being a size 4 would be racked with pain.
Here is another real-life example;
Don is a 35 year old doctor. He practices psychiatry and is double-board certified. Don is married with two young children and he is always on call for his patients when there is an emergency. Don’s parents are thrilled with his career. His mother is a retired business executive who always dreamed of building some kind of a business for Don. She manages his private practice, does the billing, interfaces with insurance companies and is pleased with the growth-potential of her son’s practice.
Don’s career success doesn’t really seem to make him happy. He feels tired, bored and has developed some bad habits. When a problem with a patient arises, Dan sometimes feels unsympathetic to the patient’s pain and he finds that he is easily distracted in listening to their problems. Don can barely remember his childhood passion of following his Dad around and re-finishing furniture. This hands-on work with someone he loved made his heart soar with pleasure. Now he feels stuck and unmotivated to build his practice. He is hoping that something will come into his life to re-charge and energize him.
Why do so many people fail?
When you consider the goals that are mentioned above, you may note that they sound like tasks to be accomplished.
Tasks fit quite neatly into the task-achievement paradigm that many people, including goal “gurus” talk about helping you to achieve. They require the kind of preparation and monitoring that business-type tasks call for. In fact, a great many goal-based writings are geared towards improving businesses at the bottom line in terms of increased efficiency, increased productivity, etc.
There is another way to look at “Smart” or Emotional goals. They embody the passion, the drive, the pleasure that makes even the pathway towards them as rewarding as you can imagine.
Your Emotional Goals develop from early childhood; they have a history and continuity.
Your Emotional Goals may begin to be tested during adolescence; they can be quickly railroaded during this turbulent time.
Your Emotional Goals may well be submerged under layers of task-like goals when you reach adulthood.
Emotional goals never disappear although they may be discarded, ignored, bumped to the end of the line for a period of time.
We describe what these are later on in detail, but for now we must know that these goals; security, involvement, freedom, excitement and respect are a necessary part of our existence. They each have a long history in our lives and they have deep meaning for us.
Emotional goals may seem to be as elusive as smoke. They do exist and can be brought to full awareness when we recognize how vital they are to our lives.
The following cases illustrate how important it is to know and plan for our emotional goals.
Mary is 15 and she is pushing hard for success in school and athletic endeavors. Her parents are proud of her, her friends cheer her on and she often feels overwhelmed.
In her room, late at night, Mary journals in her diary. As she writes she cries and gets angry. No one knows how unhappy she is because she puts up a good front. Mary doesn’t know why she is miserable and writing about “just quitting everything and taking off for some other place.”
Mary dreams about being free of pressure and doing things that she loved to do as a child. She used to climb hills and search for rare birds, and discover fascinating things about nature. Now she feels trapped into cheerleading and keeping her grade average up at the top of her class. Her plans seem to be set in motion for her.
Andy was a 14 year old who loved to play video games. In fact, he was on the computer for many hours playing with other youngsters around the world. Andy’s grades were average, he played soccer on weekends and he was your “normal teenage kid.” Andy was OK at everything with no real passions that anybody knew about. No one asked about his dreams. His parents were just relieved that he didn’t get into trouble and they weren’t happy with their own careers anyway. A job was just a paycheck. It was not supposed to be thrilling.
If you had asked him, at age 14, what his life goals are, he would have said
“I don’t know. I’m not old enough to have goals. I only know I like video games.”
Andy is now 25 and he works two part-time jobs. His girlfriend wants to get married and Andy is thinking that this is the best thing to do since all of his other friends are getting married.
Andy and his buddies still play video games, often into the wee hours of the morning. Their jobs don’t demand a great deal of skill and they basically have to “show up” in order to earn 8 dollars an hour.
If you asked Andy if he is happy with his life he would say, “What’s happy? No one’s really happy in this world! I’m just making it day to day.”
Andy is not depressed or anxious. He doesn’t have a drinking or a drug problem. He is healthy and young and with these gifts he could be enjoying his life and finding some meaning in it.
What the future is for this young adult is uncertain. If he is not happy now….what will be his answer to that question 10 years from now?
Anne is 25 and has been married for two years. She is working as a pre-school teacher and loves her job. Her husband is a detective with the police force in their town. Anne is close to her widowed mother and her two married sisters. Both of her sisters have children, one sister is 23 and the other is 27 years of age.
Anne’s mother is a stay-at-home Mom who lives off of her deceased husband’s investments. She is very involved in her daughter’s life.
As Anne approaches the age of 26 she is hearing more and more comments from her mother and sisters about having children. She’s beginning to feel the pressure and to become dissatisfied with her own life. She questions herself about her love of developing teaching programs and she is wondering if this is selfish and abnormal. Anne has always liked to share her knowledge with others and she enjoys seeing the admiration on the faces of her students and fellow teachers when she opens the doors to learning in new, exciting ways. Her next career step would be to transfer into Administration. This would take more time and effort. She is thinking about getting pregnant and making everyone happy.
The people we have just spoken about are at risk in one vital way. They are heading into the future without a secure compass to direct them towards the emotional goals that are really meaningful to them.
Common Obstacles to reaching goals
Before we discuss emotional goals in depth it is important to discuss some of the basic ways in which goals in the three main domains (career, relationships, self-growth) can be put at risk. We will focus upon two common occurrences; goal conflict and goal sacrifice.
In goal conflict we can see that the goals in the three domains are at cross purposes to each other. In goal sacrifice we can see that a major goal is pushed aside in order to accomplish a goal in another domain.
The problem with Goal Conflicts
Here are case examples that describe situations where the three key goal areas are in conflict.
Mr. Smith is an accountant and is married with children. He works for a large firm and also has a lot of private cases during tax season. Mr. Smith often works late into the night and on weekends because he believes that he should keep up a life style of affluence for his family. He chose accounting as a career because he could make a lot of money and gain importance in a small company.
Mr. Smith’s wife has given up trying to engage him in activities with the children, “He’s always busy!” His son, Barry, has said, “My Dad doesn’t even come to my soccer games. He only cares about work!” Mr. Smiths daughter Sue has said, “Dad lives in his office and I think he doesn’t like being a parent at all!”
When you sit down and talk to Mr. Smith, you can see that he is tired, stressed and basically unhappy.
“I have to pay the bills.” He says. “There’s no time for anything else, it seems.”
Mr. Smith will tell you that as a youngster he was brought up in foster homes and really missed the love and comfort of a family. His mother and father are divorced and fought constantly during his childhood. He was often shipped out to a foster family and dreamed of one day having the security of his own family around him.
This is Mr. Smith’s emotional goal and it is buried under the career goal which is to make lots of money. He wants the emotional security of a family and yet he is not fulfilling that goal. He has, instead, decided to focus upon career success. He is struggling with feelings of unhappiness.
Cathy J is a 23 year old woman, single and working as a receptionist. She has career, educational and personal goals that are working against each other.
Cathy’s personal goal has taken hold of her life. She wants to get married before she is 24 years of age because she has decided that by 24 she will be too old and unattractive.
Cathy’s educational goal was to be a veterinarian. She loves animals and was going to go into a special program in Utah to train for this career. She is, however, very immersed in on-line dating, single’s events and other strategies for finding a marital partner. At work, Cathy tends to be preoccupied with her mission and her boss isn’t delighted with her performance. She feels unimportant and useless most of the time.
Lena is a pretty 28 year old mother of twin girls. She is divorced and she has just started a job as the “office manager” in a large, prestigious legal firm. Her family pushed her to take this job so that she would make more money and be able to buy the kids more things. Lena left her old job as a legal secretary in order to take this promotion. She loved her old job, the friends she made there, the supportive atmosphere in the office the family-oriented environment of the work place. When one of her girls was sick, she was always able to take the time to leave the office and tend to her child. Lena had always craved having a job that wouldn’t interfere with her home life. Now she is faced with some real conflicts. She can’t leave work, she must stay late, she has many, many responsibilities that leave her with a headache at the end of the day.
In her current position, Lena is “in charge”. She thought that she should move up the ladder of success; take a job with “more potential for promotion”. She is very unhappy.
The problem with goal sacrifice
Many of us will try to “sacrifice” goals in one domain for the achievement of goals in another domain. For example, many individuals cut their education short in order to grab onto a career so that they can support themselves and their families. Other people wait to get married until they have a career and numerous people find that they choose a career based upon what others think that they “should do” There is a great deal of shuffling around in the goal department and we often cannot go back and make up for things that we have sacrificed earlier in our lives. We may resent this sacrifice for many years.
Marge is a good example of goal sacrifice. She studied to be an archeologist and loved learning about other cultures. Her goal was to teach history in a way that would be exciting for youngsters to learn. However, after having a child she had to earn a living. Marge, as a single parent, gave up her original goal for a career that promised a higher salary and a great deal of security. It was a sacrifice that she believed was necessary at the time. Now she realizes that she could have pursued her goal if she had known how important it would always be to her.
Ben is a 16 year old student. He has always gotten A’s in his grades and this makes his parents very happy. Ben’s father and mother are doctors and they emphasize good grades as the most important part of Ben’s teen years. Ben is on-course to enter college and is on track for a medical career. He is, however, extremely anxious and unhappy. Ben cannot bring himself to tell his parents that he yearns to be on the athletic team. He craves playing ball, or any kind of team sport and he imagines himself playing with the rest of the kids after school and weekends. Ben dreams about being an athletic coach and his rather solitary, sedentary life makes him feel weak and angry. Yet, he doesn’t question his sacrifice for his parent’s happiness.
These two cases illustrate the importance of recognizing what your goals are in the three key domains. You cannot assume that things will “work out” when you leave a goal behind or have goals that conflict with each others. Pursuing goals takes thought and action.
For the rest of this guidebook we will focus upon emotional goals so that you recognize, understand, appreciate and know how to get to your own emotional goals.
A Brief Self-Awareness Test and Your first Goal exercise
In order to recognize and to work towards your emotional goals you have to have a degree of self-awareness. It is often helpful to test yourself about the things that you think you know about yourself.
List what you believe are your goals right now. You can list your career goals, your educational goals, personal goals or your emotional goals if you know what they are.
What were your teen goals?
What were your childhood goals?
Were there goals that your parents or others had for you?
Emotional goals have a long history because they develop in early childhood. They are often hidden in our psyches, covered over by such short-term goals as loosing weight, passing an exam, getting that job, paying the bills etc.
We are not always aware that we have deep founded emotional goals and we may find ourselves searching for that… something that will finally make us happy.
Healthy Emotional goals can best be described by the feelings we get when we achieve one of them.
These feelings are of fulfillment, well-being and satisfaction at the very core of our being. When we are close to or already have achieved an emotional goal, we are more motivated, more comfortable and more agreeable as individuals.
When we are in pursuit of unhealthy emotional goals, we tend to be irritable, dissatisfied and empty.
Two types of Emotional Goals: unhealthy and healthy
Unhealthy Emotional Goals are very common and trying to achieve them often leads to frustration and unhappiness.
Examples of unhealthy emotional goals are:
• Attention. This is the constant pursuit of either positive or negative attention from others. Small children are known for their seeking feedback in many different forms. When this pursuit is for negative attention (yelling, punishing) it becomes very unhealthy. Adults may also seek to be the center of attention no matter where they are and this can be a very unhealthy mission
• Instant gratification. This is the unending search for immediate rewards which can be in the form of praise, money, joy or excitement.
• Perfection. This is the pursuit of unblemished performance or appearance. It may also be the setting of extremely high standards and expectations which can never be reached.
Cathy is an attractive 30’ish mother of 3 young children. Her husband is in real estate and she is an executive secretary. Together they make a fine living but Cathy seems to be on edge most of the time.
At work Cathy is very detail-oriented and precise. She demands a great deal of efficiency from her staff and often is irritable when they fall short of her expectations. At home, Cathy runs her household in a systematic way. She has everyone on schedules, she has every birthday, holiday, anniversary logged into her computer and she has meal plans made out for the next year. Cathy gets frustrated when things are out of order and she is known to be a “perfectionist.”
When her 10 year old son comes in from playing soccer and leaves dirty foot prints on her clean floor, she becomes upset to the point of crying and her mood stays bad for hours at a time.
Cathy is also rigid about her weight and her diet. She gets depressed when she gains even one pound and she is inconsolable. She refuses to give herself or anyone else any leeway.
Cathy was always this way. When she was a child her parents were quite strict with her and she took it several steps further. Mistakes on her homework made her furious and she would spend hours doing her lessons over and over again. She was always groomed and would not let herself be seen unless her face was washed, her hair combed and her body clothed.
To say that this woman strives for perfection is to know that she will never be satisfied. Even her family is becoming weary of her demands and her staff at work tends to quit regularly.
Ed seems to be a “happy-go-lucky” sort of man. At the age of 32 he’s starting his own business because he’s had a lack of success in working for various companies. Ed wants to work for himself so that when he feels the need to take time off and have fun (particularly playing the horses) he has no one to answer to. You might say that Ed goes for the “quick fix” when it comes to doing things and he wants results immediately. Along with gambling, Ed tends to binge drink with his friends. He doesn’t consider this to be a problem.
At home, Ed finds the lifestyle of a divorced male to be right up his alley. He can come and go as he pleases, he can spend his money as he wishes and he can be as preoccupied as he wants to be with things that give him pleasure.
Marla is a pretty adolescent and the youngest of 6 children. Her parents were quite a big older when she was born and her older siblings did a great deal of child-care for her. Marla’s recent behavior is beginning to worry her parents. She has always been very peer-oriented and has taken a leadership role in school and outside of school. Lately, Marla appears to be on a totally different track. She is dressing in black, piercing her body and she stands out from the crowd in a new and daring kind of way.
Ted is a 14 year old boy in Marla’s class. He is also standing out from the crowd. When he was little he was bullied constantly because he was small and chubby. Now he seems to have taken on the role of class clown. He makes fun of himself, does ridiculous things and has other kids laughing and pointing him out. Ted seems OK with all of this negative attention but in his room, late at night he knows how miserable he really is.
Brian is a 23 year old part-time Data Processor. He is engaged to be married and wants to start his own business. Brian has always been known as the gun guy in his social crowd. As a teen, he ditched school often because he was “bored” with the routine and needed to find things that made him feel “alive”. Brian was smart enough to pass tests and therefore his absences didn’t lead to expulsion. Yet, he learned little in school and sought out experiences made him feel good quickly.
Brian did use drugs, he drank, he did everything that he could to give him that edgy feeling that he liked.
Presently, Brian still uses drugs and drinks. He works only 4 hours a day because he cannot tolerate the routine and he wants to be his own boss so that he can do whatever he wants to do. His fiancé is worried about his “attitude” and his need for quick gratification. However, she thinks that he will “change” and “mature” when he is married and has responsibilities.
Ned is 48 years old, married with no children and he is a composer. Ned writes music for TV and the movies and he works alone. He has always pushed himself hard and he is never really happy with his results. Ned’s father was a very critical man who also pushed himself and rarely, if ever, gave out compliments.
Ned has been depressed lately, and he is noticing the change in his motivational level, appetite, sleep patterns. He doesn’t know why he is depressed and pushes himself even harder which means that he has no time for his wife or any of the things he used to do. He has little confidence in himself and even though his music is successful, he points out the few times when his music scores have not been accepted for publishing. Ned seems to await rejection and he pursues some level of perfect composition that he never reaches. Yet, he believes that he must reach the impossible standard that he has set for himself. This is his mission. This is the root of his unhappiness.
A Goal Defining Exercise
Do you think that you have any unhealthy emotional goals? Yes No
Where do you think that they originated from?
List any unhealthy emotional goals that you have.
Describe the unhealthy goal that you would like to change
Healthy Emotional Goals may be hidden deep in our psyches. It can take a great deal of thought to bring them to the surface, reclaim them and then put these goals ahead of other goals. When we strive to achieve these healthy goals we are usually satisfied, fulfilled and happy.
The following are the key positive emotional goals as well as some of the emotions that they evoke.
Please read the description below to see if one or more of these goals inspires and energizes you.
Today’s preparation determines tomorrow’s achievement
This healthy goal can be described as a desire for comfort and safety. Security can be in the form of a stable relationship, a steady career, an unchangeable mission in life. Security is more than the making of dollars or the accumulation of properties.
It is best understood in the following context.
Jane is a 40 year old single woman. She was raised in foster homes because her parents were unable to care for her. Over and over again, Jane was shipped from one family to another, one school to another, one set of friends to another. As a youngster, Jane longed to stay in one place and to be surrounded by familiar people. She has lived in her apartment for 20 years and has worked at the same camera shop for 18 years.
Joe is a 35 year old father of one young son. He was raised in a religious home and continues this tradition in his own family. Joe is consistent in going to his Church and volunteering time with the congregation. He always adjusts his work schedule so that he can perform his Church work.
Real leaders are ordinary people with extraordinary determination
People who aspire to be respected are people who yearn to feel valuable and needed by others, to be looked up to. They have a strong positive feeling when someone says “You really know your stuff” or “I’ll take your advice” or “I wish that I were like you”
Many people strive to be known for their skills, their knowledge and their perseverance. Respect may or may not involve money-it usually is based upon recognition for hard work, time spent and values that are pursued.
United we stand….divided we fall.
Individuals who yearn for involvement love to feel like they are part of a greater entity. They are excited by inclusion and like to know what is going on and be active in making things happen. These individuals are energized by being part of a team and sharing plans or activities.
“There are two good things in life, freedom of thought and freedom of action”
Those who desire freedom are often quite misunderstood in society. Often, they are called “aimless” or “impulsive” or “irresponsible”. When freedom is a healthy goal it is the longing to be ready to do anything positive that one aspires to do and to think without limitations.
Those individuals whose goal is freedom will overcome obstacles in the path of doing what they believe to be right. They are energized and excited by new concepts, new places and new challenges. Many who aspire to freedom of action and thought will find it difficult to balance “normal” daily routines with their goal. Yet, when something incredibly creative, innovative occurs it is often a freedom-seeker who accomplishes the task.
“The only alternative to excitement is irritability”
George Bernard Shaw
Excitement is a feeling that many of us describe as, emotionally intense, adrenalin-charged and sensually powerful. Excitement can come from positive or negative events and for our purposes we consider positive events leading to healthy excitement as an emotional goal.
Some individuals from earliest childhood seem to thrive on excitement; fast-paced playing, roller-coasters, intense visual and audio stimulation, ever-changing and dynamic work situations.
Excitement is an emotional goal that is difficult to put aside in the pursuit of any other goal and many of us experience burn-out, boredom, depression and anxiety when we try to leave this goal behind.
A Brief Healthy Goal Exercise
List what you believe to be your healthy emotional goals.
Describe your healthy emotional goals in your own words
What do you believe have been the obstacles to reaching your healthy goals?
Self-Tests for each of the Emotional Goals
Questionnaires to help you define what your goals really are
What is security all about?
When you were a child, you wanted and needed to be protected and comforted by your caretakers. Security meant that you trusted someone to feed you, heed your cries, keep you safe from danger and guide you on a positive path. As you grew up, you were slowly able to provide for your own comfort and enjoyed this aspect of your life.
Perhaps you had a fragmented family and never experienced consistency in your early years. This might lead you to aspire to security as an adult.
Are You Looking for Security?
Please answer the questions below Yes or No
1. You feel good when your bills are paid
2. You are anxious when you are late paying for something
3. You like to be prepared for exams
4. You get nervous doing something new and different
5. You have money put aside for a rainy day
6. You have people to call in an emergency
7. You plan for the day ahead?
8. You have close friends to talk to and confide in
9. You want a long term relationship
10. Trust is an important word to you
11. You had a favorite stuffed toy as a child.
What is respect all about?
As a young child you were known to be a “leader” type who liked to have others follow your rules in games. In your family life, you were taught to speak a certain way to adults, and to authority figures and to listen to what they had to say. You may have tended to be protective of your toys and all your possessions as a teenager. No one was allowed to mess with your things. You were very aware of what others thought of you and you may have been a self-conscious adolescent. Perhaps you day-dreamed about being the head of a company, the principal of a school, the leader of a nation?
Are You looking for Respect?
Please answer the questions below, Yes or No
1. You enjoy being listened to
2. You are careful about rules and laws
3. Your parents emphasized paying respect to elders?
4. You dress carefully for appointments
5. You pay attention to your grooming
6. You think about how you look to others
7. As a kid you wanted to be president
8. You are turned off my loud voices in restaurants
9. You turn off your cell phone in movies
10. You knock on doors before entering
11. You teach your kids to talk to you in a certain way
12. You expect youngsters to do as you tell them
13. You like being addressed as Sir or M’am
14. You call older people Sir or M’am
15. You enjoy hearing positive things about yourself
What is involvement all about?
From infancy onwards most of us live and work as part of a team. We are raised in families, learn in classrooms, do sports on teams and work with others. The “no man is an Island” refrain relates to the reality that individuals rarely accomplish great feats or live their lives without cooperation from others. Healthy participation and competition are part of involvement. Some people crave involvement and love being part of a group effort even when that group is only several people. Individuals who seek out involvement usually do it on many levels and they are often part of a team at work, in school, and in leisure activities.
Are You looking for Involvement?
Please answer the questions below Yes or No
1. I like to work with others
2. I feel comfortable having people around me
3. I like to consult with people about ideas
4. I believe that I have positive things to contribute
5. I like sharing tasks
6. I am a member of several social or athletic groups
7. I think that human beings need to work together
8. I often depend on others and they depend upon me
9. I feel good about contributing my ideas or skills
10. I like to bring people together
What is freedom all about?
Freedom is a much-used word in our vocabulary. As an emotional goal it relates to being able to be independent of others in a healthy way. People who desire freedom are often thought to be “loners” or “impractical” or “rebels” people because they don’t go with the crowd. These individuals don’t appear to need to conform, although they do not break rules or laws. As children, they were often considered to be different in the sense that they liked to play alone, they were unimpressed with expensive toys and liked to invent their own amusements.
Are You looking for Freedom?
Please answer the questions below Yes or No
1. I enjoy doing things alone
2. Others say that you are unique or an individual
3. I like inexpensive gadgets as well as expensive things
4. I think that some people don’t need to work
5. I enjoy new and different experiences
6. I dream about buying my own island
7. I meditate and enjoy having time to think
8. I hesitate to take on extra responsibilities
9. I don’t believe that everyone should get married
10. I vote according to my ideas and beliefs
11. I don’t think that it is your job to fix everyone and everything
What is excitement all about?
Excitement is an amazingly energized feeling which is best captured on the faces of children. Youngsters do not usually hide the expressions on their faces. We can see the bright eyes and smiling lips. We can almost feel the tingling in their muscles as they face something or someone who stimulates a feeling of healthy excitement within them.
In adulthood, many of us have become highly socialized and therefore don’t show excitement as we used to do. We are also adept at postponing excitement until the work is done, until the day is done, until we give ourselves permission to become excited.
There are many people who cannot go through the day without a healthy dose of excitement. For these people, doing without that energizing and powerful feeling is terribly painful and leads to depression, anxiety and anger.
Are you searching for excitement?
Answer the following questions Yes or No
1. As a child, school was often boring for me
2. As an adolescent I was known for doing risky things
3. As an adult I get bored with routine tasks
4. I like fast cars and adventure movies
5. I often think that I should have been a race car driver, a pro sports player, a
6. My friends like to do competitive sports
7. I get irritable when people take a long time to do something
8. I am always thinking of something new to do, or eat or see.
Important Case Histories
Below you will find the case histories of people who followed the pathways to their own emotional goals, and were fulfilled and successful.
Nicole who is single and 33 years of age, is a warm and engaging young lady who loves to be with people and to help her friends and family. As a youngster, she always wanted more friends and was frustrated by parents who kept her a bit isolated from others. Nicole had no idea of what she wanted to do with her life but her social skills and love of people led her to spend time at parties and with friends when she was a teenager. In college she took basic courses, unsure of what she wanted to do or what her skills were. She spent a great deal of time with her friends who sought her advice and she made extra money babysitting for kids who adored her company. After college she had the idea of becoming a photographer because she liked to take pictures of her friends and scenery.
Now, in her late 20’s, she finds herself frustrated and sad with her life. She is working in a busy photo lab, has an interest in taking pictures but something is missing. Nicole tries her own photo business but feels isolated and not motivated for some reason.
After Life Goals Unlimited did a comprehensive evaluation of her skills, strengths and her early interests, it became clear that Nicole’s social skills, her helping skills and her early goal of involvement needed to be addressed.
Nicole needed to put things into a plan of action with financial aid and an educational program that met her needs and goals.
Nicole is currently getting her Masters Degree in Child Psychology. Her school activities fit in with a part-time job counseling autistic children for a non-profit organization. She is happy and loves what she is doing. The educational team work is fulfilling and exciting.
Angie, who is 29, has a high school diploma and is married with a young son. She spends hours on the internet looking for stimulation. The only joy she has is cooking for her family and friends because she seems to have a talent for making excellent breads and cakes. Even as a child, she played at baking and in her teens she was the one who brought the cookies to every church bake sale.
Angie is under the impression that cooking is a waste of time. Her parents always told her that spending time in the kitchen was stupid. Her mother had a woman to cook meals for the family and she isn’t interested in receipts or ingredients.
Angie feels excited when she experiments with her baking but only a few friends know that this is her passion and that without her cookies and pies the community activities would suffer. Her friends respect her talents. Baking is what she loves to do and what she does very well.
Angie was referred for evaluation of her skills, interests and strengths after her therapist noted that she was depressed and had low self-esteem.
Life Goal’s Unlimited Comprehensive Testing for Angie revealed that she had poor self-confidence but a lot of knowledge about cooking and preparing food. When she talked about baking, she glowed with pride. What was needed was a plan for financial aid and a program to train her in marketable culinary skills.
Angie is currently working in a bakery, designing wedding cakes and planning on opening her own business. She hears compliments often and her special skills are requested and respected.
Joe is 55 and was recently laid off from his sales position. He is miserable. In his family, every man has been in the sales field and this is a kind of family tradition.
Joe has always been a “people- person” who likes to make others happy and to see them get what it is that they want. These skills made him a great sales person, however, his company downsized and he is out of a job.
Joe thinks that he has few “marketable skills” and he is very anxious about finding another job. He looks frantically for a sales position but is turned away as younger people get the jobs. This makes Joe very depressed and confused.
Joe is referred to Life Goals Unlimited for comprehensive evaluation by his doctor who is concerned about his depression and hypertension.
The evaluation of Joe reveals very interesting facts. It shows that Joe loves to engage with people and help them satisfy their needs. He has talents in talking with people and listening to what they say. In addition, he has an analytical mind when it comes to figuring out what other people should do to be more satisfied in life. Joe is excited by involvement at a very personal, intense level. This is something he never really considered before.
At this time Joe is getting a certificate in financial planning so that he can help people use their money in positive ways. He is working part time with a financial planning company and has already proven that he can bring people in, listen and understand their situations and help them strategize a positive plan.
Sara is a secretary and has worked for several companies. She is 23, attractive, single and very unhappy. Sara’s parents advise her to get married and have children. Sara is beginning to think that this would make her feel content. She wants to please her parents and they are very “traditional” and “conservative”. What they don’t know about Sara is that all of her daydreams are about climbing mountains and river rafting on fast-moving water. She dreams of parachuting and flying her own plane.
As a child, Sara never shared her dreams. She knew that her parents wouldn’t understand or approve of her fantasies. At this point in her life she feels lost and unfulfilled.
Sara met with the life coach from LGU and was encouraged to verbalize her early dreams and aspirations. After thorough testing it was clear that Sara had emotional goals that cried out to be recognized. She is currently in the process of strengthening her understanding of her emotional goals and becoming stronger in her resolve to achieve them.
The individuals above are successfully reaching their emotional goals. At any age, and at any time in your life, you can begin the process of recognizing and of planning to achieve your own emotional goals.
How to Achieve Your E.G.’s and Avoid the Pitfalls
Here are the main obstacles and challenges that keep you from achieving your goals.
1. Unregulated emotions; anxiety, depression and anger. When feelings of anxiety, sadness and anger are intense, research has demonstrated that they do interfere with the mind’s normal processing abilities. Anxiety (fear) propels us into a fight or flight mode and this often overwhelms our memory, attention and problem-solving mental systems. When depression sets in, we feel hopeless, unmotivated and unable to solve even simple problems or develop plans or seek help. Anger can be super energizing or paralyzing and both of these states compromise our ability to prioritize, to explore alternative routes, to be objective about situations and people.
2. Distractions; In this hectic world it is common for people to become distracted and fail to recognize that they are moving away from their goals. Often, people try to accomplish too much at the same time and this distracts them from the more important goal-related tasks that they should do.
3. Myths; When you are talking about your goals and feeling excited, others may think that you are “self-centered”. This may be discouraging. It is important to side-step this myth and recognize that pursuing healthy goals is positive and good for everyone.
4. Forces of Nature; In real life some rain must fall and so we all have to deal with the hurricanes, earthquakes and other crises that shake our world. It is important to get back on track after the crisis and re-build the foundations of your goals.
5. The “I’ll do it alone syndrome”. It is usually necessary to get some help along the way as you begin the journey towards your emotional goals. This is the time to reach out, do the research on who can help guide and support you in your quest.
Positive Strategies for Achieving Goals
Regulate your emotions so that anxiety depression and anger are not interfering with your thinking.
See special tutorial below
Focus on your goals for each domain
It is helpful to make your goals visible and accessible. What we see is often very important information for us and we can make use of our visual sense to remind us of our goals.
List, describe and post your goal in a place where you will see them.
Visualize your goal
Do one goal related task a day. Remember that small steps lead to the goal.
If your emotional goal is to pursue involvement in your life, you may consider the following;
Research volunteer organizations that need a helping hand
Turn to your church or synagogue for group activities
Become involved in your PTA, local business groups, etc.
Use goal-based language –
The language of goal achievement is a very important way of reinforcing the concept of making progress towards a specific, positive goal. You can use the language and specifically the following items are examples of the vocabulary.
My goal is to achieve respect in what I do and who I am
I value involvement in all spheres of my life
I take responsibility for moving towards my goals
Get help. Get the needed testing and evaluation services that will highlight your skills, your strengths and point you in the right direction. Please see Resource Section.
Keep track of progress in a new day planner or on computer
Make a Plan.
It is often useful to structure your thoughts about achieving your goal. You can begin by defining the goal, setting a time frame, listing the possible steps needed to get to that goal. Remember that time frames have to be realistic and that the steps have to be small enough to be doable.
If your emotional goal is security a simple plan may look like this.
Reward your successes
Each step towards reaching your goal should be appreciated and celebrated.
We don’t have to go to elaborate means to acknowledge that we have approached our goal, yet a simple reward may involve; taking yourself out for coffee, buying that magazine you look at in the grocery store, giving yourself a beauty treatment, etc.
Example of how to use the strategies with a goal
My Goal is Security
Definition of goal;
I want to feel rooted in all aspects of my life, I want to feel certain about my abilities, and my capacity to remain secure even when changes occur. I want to be confident within myself and about my friends and family.
Look at three domains of life; Career, Personal life and Self-Growth. Identify which area or areas I feel secure or insecure in and list the reasons why
Example; In my job I feel like they can let me go at any time.
I feel my family slipping away
Focus upon one area at a time and think about how to begin to build security
Example; In my job I can begin to get extra training or knowledge that will make me a more useful part of the team
In my personal life I need to keep track of all friends and family and stay connected frequently. I can keep track of phone numbers, birthdays etc. via computer or day planner. This will keep my close friends and family within reach.
Identify one task per day to boost security in the domains I have selected
Example; My first task will be to research courses to increase my skills
Keep track of tasks completed
Use a planner to note calls you have made, research you have done
Use the language of security
“I feel sure that I have and can learn skills”
“ I have resilience in the face of emergencies or changes”
“Feeling secure is something that I can optimize within myself”
Reward yourself for movement towards your goal
“It is what you learn after you know it all that counts.”
Tutorial for Emotion Regulation
Emotion regulation is a necessary skill for all of us to practice. We can build our skill set and become more aware of and in control of our emotions quite easily. When we have these skills on-board, we can think more clearly, prioritize, make good decisions and plan for reaching our goals.
Emotion regulation is not a shut down of our feelings. It is the ability to understand them and to modulate them.
For this exercise you will need a small notebook.
1. For One Week you will ask your self the following questions three times a day and jot down the answers
“What am I feeling?”
“What am I thinking?”
2. On day one you will do a deep breathing exercise in the morning when you awake, at noon and in the evening.
3. On day two you will say a positive statement to yourself three times a day.
4. On day three you will look in the mirror in the am and the pm and smile at yourself.
5. On day four you will add one healthy activity to your schedule for each day. It can be as simple as drinking more water.
6. On day five you will practice making eye contact with people around you
7. On day seven you will encourage someone to talk about themselves and you will practice being an “interested listener”
This exercise should be extended for 3 weeks as you put activities, and exercises into place. At the end of 3 weeks, evaluate your progress by reviewing your notations about your feelings and thoughts.
5. Developing Your Child’s Emotional Intelligence by Margaret Altman
6. Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self by Allen Schore
7. Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
8.Trauma and Recovery by Judith Lewis Herman
9. Feeling Good- The New Mood Therapy by Dr. David Burns
10. The Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel
I am a psychotherapist with more than 35 years of practice. My guiding principle is that you must understand and follow your emotional, "smart" goal in order to achieve fulfillment in life.