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Responsibility: How to Set Goals and Follow Through

Updated on July 16, 2013
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You Have A Choice

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” ~Albert Einstein

Are you happy? Fulfilled? Passionate?

Do you believe you have the power to reach your highest potential?

Even if you don’t, I DO.

No matter where you are or how long you’ve been there, you can change. But first, you have to make the decision to change, to do something different.

Now, let me ask you this: If you are unhappy, unfulfilled and dispassionate, then why wouldn’t you embrace an alternative lifestyle?

Why wouldn’t you, at the very least, open your mind to the possibility that you have a choice to live better, to reach your goals, and to get exactly what you want?

Make A Decision

“We are not animals. We are not a product of what has happened to us in our past. We have the power of choice... The ultimate human freedom.” ~Stephen R. Covey

Effectively making a decision requires either desperate situations or extreme courage. Many people reach “rock bottom,” their absolute limits of a tolerably miserable lifestyle, before finally deciding to change.

This breaking point is a blessing in disguise.

Everything that was once considered undeniably true now receives, and deserves, skepticism. And, although these broken people must reevaluate every aspect of their lives, they finally accept their power to choose between the myriad possible options and opportunities laying in front of them.

The Map Is Not The Territory

When, in 1933, philosopher and scientist Alfred Korzybyski wrote in Science and Sanity, “The map is not the territory,” he expressed every human being’s inability to experience the world directly. Instead, people can, at best, create a reasonably accurate mental representation, the map, of this world, the territory.

When people reach this "rock bottom," their minds can no longer justify staying the same. They learn, in the hardest way possible, that the internal “map” they were using to navigate the external “territory” was entirely incorrect.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of the human population is utterly convinced, beyond reasonable doubt, that their current map wholly reflects reality.

What’s worse: despite unhappiness, emptiness, and dispassion, people still hold tightly to their ineffective maps and attribute these miseries to the human condition rather than the low-quality map.

The keys to happiness, fulfillment, and a passionate life are to muster all your courage and to decide, today, that your current pains and miseries are intolerable, even if they seem manageable and small.

The Implications Of A Decision

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.” ~Viktor E. Frankl

The word decide derives from the latin words “de-” and “caedere,” meaning, together, ‘to cut off.’

In order to benefit from my following lessons, you must first recognize that your map, and only your map, is responsible for your present suffering.

Then, you must decide to change. In other words, you must cut yourself off from this created illusion that you call reality.

The need to consciously decide exists in everyone’s life, whether wildly successful or abysmally failing. Some people might have more luck as their intuition guides them, but we can all tap into a limitless source of power.

Here's the question:

Are you going to wait until the suffering becomes unbearable before you decide to make a change?

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Start NOW

It's time to start asking these hard questions and confront the shocking reality hidden in the answers:

  • Who am I? Who do I believe myself to be?
  • What motivates me to get out of the bed in the morning?
  • Who do I love? Why?
  • How do I contribute to my own unhappiness?
  • When did this current level of unhappiness start? Where did it come from?
  • Why am I unhappy? Why don't I want to be happy?
  • What stops me from being happy?

Your Real Problem

“Learning is about more than simply acquiring new knowledge and insights; it is also crucial to unlearn old knowledge that has outlived its relevance. Thus, forgetting is probably at least as important as learning.” ~Gary Ryan Blair

Although you might take your present skills, capacities, and preferences for granted, developmental psychology reveals that every one of these had to develop from the time you were born.

In other words, you had to learn almost every conscious action you take, such as walking, speaking, and eating by yourself, through a vigorous effort over time.

Here's the problem: even though these behaviors are learned, and thus totally arbitrary depending on who taught you, many people falsely believe that their current routine provides them with the greatest amount of happiness available to them.

They think that asking for more happiness is either wishful thinking or plain selfish.

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Solution: Empty Your Mind

The following story illustrates the same concept:

Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.

Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.

The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”

“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

Solution: Update Your Map

When you live according to this outdated map, with a mind filled with beliefs that are indoctrinated and refined throughout childhood, the definition of a reasonable alternative for your life becomes greatly limited.

Doesn't it make sense that in order to justify your unhappiness, your mind must believe that there are almost no alternatives? Essentially, "The unhappiness is unavoidable, so learn to live with it."

Now, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that there are alternatives. The bad news, however, is that breaking out of your old, sustained lifestyle represents a huge challenge.

In order for you to tackle this problem, you will need an action plan:

  1. Clearly define where you are right now- What problems do you face? What are the main sources of your dissatisfaction? What's stopping you from being totally satisfied and happy? What parts of your life need improvement? How can you tell? Write 10 adjectives describing your positive qualities. Write another 10 for the negatives.
  2. Clearly define where you want to be- How would you act if you were perfectly content and fulfilled? What would you see, hear, taste, touch, and smell in this ideal situation? Who would you surround yourself with? Why? What other measurable components of this reality stand out to you? (amount of money, quality of relationships of people in your life, quality of possessions, etc.)
  3. Create small action steps for each measurable goal- For example, if you hope to have over $1,000,000, but you're stuck around $100,000, then, instead of crossing your fingers to win the lottery, find ways to steadily increase your net worth, such as saving more money, buying less things that are irrelevant or merely feed your addictions, or creating something that is worth selling, to name a few options.
  4. Determine a reasonable time frame to reach the goal- Assuming you are committed, in every minute of your day, to changing your life from the inside out, when could you expect to see these changes manifest? From this overarching goal, set benchmarks that allow you to track your progress.
  5. Celebrate every success- When you hit a benchmark or just make a new, beneficial decision for your day, celebrate! The simplest way to celebrate is to crack a smile! Grin! Show some teeth! Let the world see you are changing on a deep, emotional level!
  6. Involve other people- Find someone you really trust and show them everything you've written down about your goals. Get their feedback. Ask for some support, as well. I must, however, caution you against involving too many people. The pressure can become overwhelming if you feel like everyone is judging your behavior and measuring your success.

Solution: Get Inspired!

Please take the time to watch this 7 minute video that will help you internalize the concept of just "How Great I Am."

Only you have the power to change your life. And, trust me, you have the power.

Claim it!

(In case the video doesn't load, here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6xLYt265ZM)

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