Many times in your life, you will stand at a crossroads that requires you to make a difficult decision in order to achieve your professional goals. It can become a daunting task for many reasons. But, with a support system in place to help guide you, taking the first step toward achieving your goals can become more manageable.
At one moment in my own career, I felt that I was not spending enough time with my family. I stood at a crossroads of my professional goals and time with family. And, guess what? Both were equally important for me. As a result, I became an astute planner, so much so that even my weekends were intricately planned. Even with enough planning to create a seemingly-perfect balance, I felt like I was missing something. One evening during my daily walk, I asked myself, why do I have the feeling that I am missing something? What do I really want? What is my goal? Gosh! Why hadn't I answered these questions before now? They came to haunt me and made me nervous and anxious as I started to look for an answer. I felt like I was stepping into an unknown dark zone full of assumptions, limiting beliefs, and cautions.
My first step—to discern what I wanted and what was my goal—became the hardest step.
Don’t: Get Stuck in Your Own Head
Getting a clear answer to these questions required some deep thought, which must come before taking any kind of committed action. You need to think things through, but often, it is not easy to find time to simply think. And other times, you do not have an adequate knowledge of the subject, and you end up getting stuck in the process of thinking, which not only gets in the way of accomplishing goals, but can also be extremely frustrating.
Research says that our brain likes to create order out of the chaos that comes in, to make links between information so that our life makes more sense to us. You feel more comfortable surrounded by an order in which you can clearly understand how everything is connected. To create completely new mental maps, or plans, is a complex thought process. For this, the brain needs to do a lot of comparing, associating, and matching of new ideas with our existing ideas and experiences. One can experience an inertia around thinking, as it requires a lot of strength, energy, and patience.
Creating a new plan chews up mental resources. Thus, the first step is always the hardest step!
Do: Create a Support System
Each person has his or her own way of thinking or figuring out the what, why, and how of goals. However, one thing that I have noticed can help all people is a support system. This support system is the key to taking that first big step toward future success.
A support system is typically a group of people who advise you and each play a distinct role in helping you. An ideal group must have three players:
- Critic: someone who can fearlessly say things to you that you need to hear but others might not tell you
- Mentor: someone who has been there and done that and can share lessons-learned
- Coach: someone who can journey alongside you while you explore your own path
Each one plays a distinct role in the quest to build new mind maps, which help in discerning and setting goals. This support system will make you feel safe and comfortable during a time of change.
Do: Get Comfortable with the Uncomfortable Questions
The second thing that is necessary for goal achievement is that you must become comfortable with the questions that your support system will pose to you. You may not have answers to all of them, but these questions will lead you to actionable answers.
My support system guides me by asking some very uncomfortable questions. For example:
- Why do you want to pursue this goal? What will you gain?
- How can you break this big goal into small, actionable chunks?
- What resources do you have and what will you need to acquire?
- What are some of the things you must keep in mind to maintain balance in your ecosystem?
These uncomfortable questions, new perspectives, and collective wisdom facilitate your thought process and can convert the dark unknown zone, which was initially full of chaos, into order.
Who is your support system? If you don’t have one yet, who can you recruit to fill these important roles? Before you spend time lost in ruminating thought, go to the people who will use their experience and skills to ask you the uncomfortable questions that will help you get started on the road to achieving your goals.
Want to help your team learn to build and use a support system to help achieve their professional goals? Check out the Pluma online coaching platform and request a demo today. Our certified executive coaches are ready to support you and your team set and achieve goals.