Everything we do is goal directed, whether we are pursuing success, accomplishment, satisfaction, service, love, acceptance, or simply comfort and the absence of pain. Goals are always with us, whether consciously acknowledged or not. We seek them, achieve them, fail at them, savor victory, suffer disappointment, or retool to pursue a new choice. We each have a relationship with, or a way of relating to, our goals. Indeed our relationship to any particular goal we have may be different at different times. Some of the possible dynamics of our relationship with our goals will be explored here. “Sometimes we run…” is a metaphor that illustrates some of the ways we relate to our goals. What is your relationship like with your goals?

Sometimes we run away…

This is typically true when your goal is avoidance of pain, failure, or discomfort. Scurrying away from danger, real or imagined, is like chipmunks fleeing from the birdfeeder when the cat walks through the yard. Running away is certainly necessary sometimes, but when it is because of fear and anxiety the best you can expect to achieve is safety and comfort. At its extreme the only goal here is avoidance without hopes for the future to embrace. Most aspire for more than that, but many live in “run away” mode.

There is another “run away” mode. You know you want something, but you run away as you get close or when you make progress. This is most frustrating because you feel like you have two minds, one that approaches and one that is afraid or uncertain. In a way this is true, we often have two minds. Competing goals are a major challenge to change and growth. For instance, when you go for something your life inevitably changes and your comfort zone is disrupted. Your goal for comfort or safety may feel threatened; so you run away to the familiar. This pattern can be unconscious and extremely frustrating and annoying, particularly when another part of you really wants something! Being aware of this, knowing yourself, can help you choose and not just behave automatically. Consider why you run away sometimes.

Sometimes we run toward our goals…

This is the other side of the equation. To achieve, accomplish, or change you need to be running toward something! You may run toward your goals with determination, though you may have fear and doubt, you’re going for it anyway. You find the resources within to proceed with uncertainty. You find the courage and strength to not run away-back into your old shell. You are not behaving automatically, at least not yet, but consciously and with resolve. There are many ways to run toward your goals; the effort will pay off.

The magic comes when you run toward effortlessly. It can happen. Believe it! This may be with eagerness and fervor, doing everything you can to close that gap between where you are now and your goal. Perhaps for you the goal is always in sight, it is a part of you, and calls to you like a soul mate you are destined to meet. Or you may run with cool confidence and a steady stride conscious of challenges, believing that success is ahead!

Effective running toward your goals is best accomplished when you have a clear vision of what you want. Here you are clearly defining your target. Picture exactly what you want in vivid detail. Imagine how it will feel to get there. Rehearse having accomplished your goal in your mind’s eye. What will you see there? How will your body feel being there? What will hear there? Where will you be? Who will you be interacting with? Make what you want compelling in your imagination and this will usually help drive your actions. Just remember you are running toward and not just imagining the outcome!

Running toward is a critical component of any effective goal accomplishment. But there are potential problems with the “running toward” strategy. Remember you are running toward and not just imagining the outcome! Imagining alone will not get you where you want to go. Take action! Also running toward blindly is not recommended. Don’t delude yourself into believing that if you keep running, can see the outcome, and believe you will get there that no other effort will be required. Know that there will likely be obstacles. The most frequent factor that defeats people in achieving goals is feeling deflated, hurt, or demoralized when challenges happen. Your attitude can keep you running. Anticipate and plan for the challenges you can expect. Greet the one’s that surprise you as expected surprises and calculate your next move thoughtfully. Mentally rehearsing and imagining accomplishment of each step toward your ultimate goal is powerful. Accept and appreciate that course correction is simply a part of moving forward.

Another challenge with running toward is keeping your drive at a high level. Many of us start in high gear and then lose the momentum. Certainly keeping the vision clear and compelling helps tremendously. Rewarding yourself and appreciating each small accomplishment on the path to your grander goal is also a great strategy to keep going. But research clearly indicates that there is another style of running that differentiates those who succeed in achieving their goals and those who not. I will discuss this in an article that will be published very soon.

In sum, running away and running toward are the most basic types of relationships we have with our goals. Even those contain many nuances and caveats. How you relate to your goals determines, to a large extent, whether you will achieve them or not. I invite you to consider, what is your relationship with your goals? More dynamics of our relationship with our goals, more ways we run in relation to them, will be addressed in a forthcoming article. That article will discuss one of the most powerful and compelling ways to run. Yes sometimes we run, but how we run determines where we arrive.

Author's Bio: 

I am a Psychologist with more than 20 years of experience. I am also Certified Trainer of both Neuro-Linguistic Programming and Ericksonian Hypnosis. Currently I devote most of my time to being a psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, consultant, trainer, and writer. Recently we (with my spouse Rosemary Lake-Liotta, L.C.S.W.) launched a Blog, www.changepathsblog.com, to offer information and inspiration to people seeking to change paths and improve their lives. We also own Enrichment Associates Consultation & Training (www.enrichmentact.com). As a Trainer of NLP and Ericksonian Hypnosis, my areas of expertise include resource enrichment skills, rapid change methodologies, goal achievement strategies, peak performance, success strategies, and communication. See more on my expert page.