When clients come to me and ask for help in changing their current situation – whether it’s their personal life, or a job, or realizing a long-held dream – I tell them I can help as long as they do. To make real change happen in your life, you not only have to have a goal, but you have to be willing to do the work to get there. Here’s what I mean…
A Goal Is Not Enough
Real change in your life is usually born out of the unhappy, untenable, unmoving conditions in either your personal life or your job, sometimes both at once. You may put up with these conditions for longer than you should because you don’t know what else to do or there seems to be no other option for the time being. Then one day, it hits you that, in order to make your life better, sooner than later, you have to make a real effort to make it happen.
Okay – it’s good that you realize that. Now you can formulate your goal, which is where you want to get to from where you are now. This is the stage that clients usually come to me and ask my advice on how to get to their goal. As a Certified Empowerment Coach, the first thing I help my clients do is construct a road map of how to reach their goal. This consists of deciding the following:
1. Where do you want to be in (how many) weeks, months? What length of time do you foresee your change taking place?
2. What are some of the roadblocks in reaching your goal? Everyone has issues in their life that can impede their progress, at least temporarily, on their way to their goal. For example, you may have stayed in a no-longer-working personal relationship, or job-relationship, for good reasons. You may have children, and other family ties, and are afraid to break up the marriage; you may have financial reasons which can hamper you. There may be many other roadblocks as well. Once you’ve identified them, you can devise alternate “good routes” to get around them. Doing so will put you on the best, and fastest, road to your goal.
But getting on the best road is not the end of it, because even once you’re on your way, other things are going to come up along the way. Some of them may discourage you from trying to keep going. That’s the time these 3 things come into play:
The 3 Things You Need
1. Patience. This is perhaps the hardest quality to maintain, especially if you’re older and you feel that the clock is ticking on your life. Many of my older clients feel like they may have wasted many years in a dead-end job, or dead marriage, and they feel like they can’t afford to lose anymore time. They want things to change yesterday. Unfortunately, it usually takes a little longer than overnight. But, the changes can come fast enough if you also add the following 2 things.
2. Persistence. Staying the course, not giving up, not giving into negative thinking, like, “I’m too old, my ship has sailed, I wasted too much of my life”, etc, or buying into others limiting perspectives. Not everyone around you wants to reach for the Moon, and they may subconsciously make you feel like you’re expecting, or asking, too much out of your life and that your goals are unrealistic at this stage in your life.
You have to be able to turn a deaf ear to these limiting voices and listen to your own. That voice in your head that’s been telling you for years that you needed a major change is the one that should lead the way for you.
3. Perseverance. It takes a lot of determination and courage to make real changes in your life especially when you’re older. I’m reminded of a client who had a goal of becoming a successful writer. He had been at it for years and had had several successes and recognitions here and there – just enough to keep reminding him he was on the right road and he just needed to persevere and keep going.
He had come to me briefly for some advice about his goals as he was starting to doubt if he was ever going to achieve the dream he had had for so many years. As we went over his “roadmap”, we both realized that he had more roadblocks than many people do – family obligations, sick parents, a house, wife and kids to still attend to.
Nevertheless, I helped him reformulate some ways to get around his roadblocks to reach his goal and he went on his way. Then one day, a few years later, I walked into a bookstore and several copies of a new, bestseller book written by him were sitting out on a front table. I read the back of the jacket and it said that he was 60 years old – 3 years older than when he was my client. So, it may have taken him a little longer to get past his roadblocks, to his goal, but with perseverance he finally got there.
So, my point in relaying this to you is not to discourage you from setting goals – on the contrary. What I’d like you to understand is that you have to realize that whatever you put your effort into is what you’ll achieve and be. If you want to be an architect and never draw a blueprint, you’ll never make a house; if you want to play the guitar and never practice it, you won’t reach your goal. By adding patience, persistence of practice, and perseverance in getting around the roadblocks, you’ll make it to your goal.
Dale Brown, B.S., M.A., C.E.C.
Certified Empowerment Coach