Lots of us have SMART goals and inspiring resolutions, but many of us don’t stay on track.
Consider a beady-eyed border collie fiercely staring down a group of ducks. All at once they’re obedient and single minded. In line, on point, moving forward without faltering. Moving forward toward the goal. Eyes on the prize.
Many of us have disobedient ducks. My ducks don’t line up like that. Do yours?
The question is, what does that border collie have that you don’t have?
- Focus. The border collie is intent on the goal. Clear, unblinking, steadfast. Committed.
- Single pointed ATTENTION. The border collie uses her eyes. She sees where she wants to go. She pays attention to where she is heading.
- A job to do. A job that’s an imperative. And one job only. Consider the spirit of an “imperative”. A baby is hungry. It’s imperative that you feed it. You’re seeking a new job. It’s imperative that you apply for jobs. Yup. No question about it. If you don’t apply you are not going to be considered for the position.
- No distractions. The collie simply doesn’t see obstacles. The collie isn’t swayed by treats or tweets. The collie nimbly moves ahead with one eye on its flock and the other on the goal. Take the group with me. Keep moving forward.
- Hard wiring. Okay, the collie has the kind of habit that no one can break. We can create strong habits too.
We lucky humans aren’t wired to do one thing only and we are driven to distraction. For better and sometimes for worse.
We want to know we have the right things lined up to take us to our end-goals. We want to keep on track particularly when apparent obstacles, distractions, habits and misbehaving inner critics or outer feedback gets in the way. And many of us really want to get off a meandering path needlessly expending energy.
Let’s take some cues from the border collie:
Take your most important goal and truly put a bead on your target. One of the best ways people succeed is by keeping a keen eye on their vision and making contact with it again and again.
Perhaps you think, well I don’t really have a clear target. I know I want a different job but I’m not quite sure what it is.
Know that your focus will sharpen as you keep setting your sights and focusing on your future. Connect to it again and again. Be with your vision often enough that it really takes shape. So you can see it and know it. So that it is not something elusive and vague, but rather something that becomes sharper and clearer.
Know that you are on a path. Each of us has to make our way, taking steps, moving forward.
Give attention to the feeling of movement and forward progress. One of the worst things you can do is to chase your tail. Complaining or fretting about not making progress. Questioning that you are on a path. Complaining about bumps in the road.
Remember that all of us- even ducks- experience obstacles. They hop over boulders. They stop to nibble on grass. The dog has to get them back in line. They have to be helped to stay focused. To keep their eyes on the goal. To stay in line.
They are moving, and moving forward and so are you.
The new year is a time to ask yourself, where am I putting my energy and attention?
My suggestion is to let your eyes and your body help you stay on track.
Try this practice:
Stand where you are now and know you are on a path.
Hold your focus and remember that as you practice, you are sharpening your focus.
Make a practice, perhaps even a habit, of stepping forward and stepping out.
Choose not to be distracted.
Bark at the inner critics and sabotaging voices.
Be nimble. When you experience bumps or interruptions, softly step around them, hop over them, nibble a little something and move on. Move forward.
Go for it. With commitment and intention.
Pay attention. Learn to be pay very deep attention. Your energy goes to where you put your attention.
Keep practicing. Keep your eyes on the prize.
I want to close by reminding you about the value of practicing. The gift of employing practices to help us achieve our goals is that this offers us permission and spaciousness to put forth effort, repeatedly, and to grow and sharpen our skills and understanding. Having a practice implies learning. It’s okay to experience ups and downs, plateaus and peaks. Every time we undertake learning a new skill (and that includes the process of finding a job or building a business or teaching a workshop), we are developing our abilities and that takes time and attention. It doesn’t happen immediately or perfectly on the first or third try!