We talk about our goals for life improvements and career accomplishments. We list them. We think about various ways of how to accomplish them. But, strangely, we still sometimes feel a bit intimidated by goal planner journals.
I love the idea of goals-focused journals. I love looking at them, thinking about them, and the questions they pose. I have all sorts of other notebooks full of goals, tasks, vision, values, and lists and lists and even a list of lists. (True.) But really delving in to a goals journal - doing it, using it, filling in the lines in ink — well, I admit it: that felt daunting to me, too.
I opened a goal digger journal. I put it down thinking “once I’m clearer about my goals I’ll do this.“ I picked it up again. And put it down again thinking, ”ok I’ll just see where I’m at after the series of meetings I have coming up - I’ll probably have more clarity then.”
Why was I hesitating? Why was I getting in my own way? How can we acknowledge discomfort and take the steps forward toward fulfilling our goals anyway?
A study called “The Effect of Self-Awareness on the Identification of Goal-Related Obstacles” was just released this week by the University of Zurich, Switzerland. The authors of the paper examined the role that paying attention to our own thoughts, feelings, and behaviours has in identify goal-related obstacles.
So the funny thing is that their research “furnished no direct evidence that an increase in the identification of obstacles does indeed foster eventual goal attainment.” Ha, not what we expected, right?
They also write, though, that “individuals should be well-calibrated in their sensitivity to what constitutes an actual obstacle that requires behavioural adaptation.”
And here’s the key, which I had scanned over at first: pursuing goals is a self-regulatory process.
Check this out: “Self-regulatory systems, organizations, or activities are controlled by the people involved in them, rather than by outside organizations or rules” according to the Collins dictionary.
Science Direct takes it further: “Self-regulation is defined as the process by which people incorporate behavior change into their everyday lives, and it involves: self-monitoring, goal setting, reflective thinking, decision making, planning, plan enactment, self-evaluation and management of emotions arising as a result of behavior change.”
Ah-hah! That’s exactly what these goals journals are designed to help us with. That's how they are structured! They are process-oriented, designed to help us self-regulate, and get the tasks done that enable us to reach milestones on the journey toward reaching our goals.
Today I picked up my goal digger book, wrote my name in the allotted space, and signed and dated the commitment to “turning dreams into reality and taking action on the things that matter most and help me grow...and to not waste my time, but instead make the most of my life.”
Ok, now that I have written in this journal, it’s mine, it can never be blank again. Time to use it to move forward. I have committed. And I need to have the courage to write down what I think, what I truly want, and what I will do - making it more real. Put it in ink. And know that it will evolve, and I will adjust and adapt as needed.
This goals journal does not have daily to dos. It is bigger picture. Monthly and weekly, starting with a section designed for setting a foundation of values, past successes, and current state of things, and an important thinking-through of short term goals, and long term goals with spaces for mind map brainstorming and for milestones.
Milestones! I would have forgotten or neglected to identify milestones. Of course milestones are super important to see and feel progress along the journey toward fulfilling our goals. I decided that the things I had considered to be my smaller goals in each project would be my milestones.
Why do we wait to put pen to paper — rubber to the road, so to speak - to really commit to the plans to achieve our goals?
I now know that what I was missing as I hesitated before, is this: this goals journal and other similar ones are to help us figure things out. Not just be where we write stuff one it’s all figured out (as if that ever happens)!
How can we stop holding ourselves back from planning and making progress to reach our goals?
The University of Zurich study says: “the identification of obstacles relies not only on a frequent monitoring of ones own goal pursuit, but also on knowledge about personal goal striving.”
We can keep learning about our own nature, alongside the nature of goal setting and various paths and tools and techniques to achieve our Life and career goals.
Pursuing our goals is self-regulated. A Process.
Have you been holding yourself back in some way, too? Is there a step can you take this week, today, within the next hour, that will put you one step closer to real-izing your most important goal?