How much pressure do you put on yourself to be moving up a level? The high performers I know are always striving for that next acrobatic trick, taking on another aspect of their business like writing their first book, running a marathon, creating an online course to share their gifts.
And then there's the rest of us. Thinking about it. Trying to figure out what's next. Not sure which idea to commit to. Not confident in how to do it. Trying to find meaning in what we're doing and trying to create a picture of meaning in our future. Wondering, "how did that person do that?! Where is my path, laid out perfectly in front of me so that I know what to do next?"
You may have noticed in rehearsing these questions for decades, there is no path you can look to to mimic. Your future is yours and must be creatively made by you and you only. This can feel frustrating, lonely, scary. The endless amount of options can paralyze the strongest of passion holders. It's not easy. But there are some neuro-hacks that can help guide you - to stay on track with goals, to reveal what's needed next, to
If there's one thing I learned in my schooling as an occupational therapist, it was that our brains NEED to accomplish goals on a daily basis to experience a high quality of life, ie contentment. Our brains are hardwired to have a list of survival needs, and competency is one of them!
1. To be actively engaged in meaningful activities and roles daily
2. To experience competency - perceive that we have performed the task well
Want happiness? That's it. Period. Do things that matter to you and do them well. It seems too simple, right?The problem is, we aren't setting ourselves up for success. We have a list of goals and "to-dos" in our brains that cycle around, taking up vital mental energy to focus on one task at once (a superpower of our brain). We compromise clarity for looking busy. We focus on things that aren't as necessary or linear for meeting our goals. We forget to visualize and feel our dream realities.
The first thing is to write a vision of what your dream life looks and feels like. I keep my statement written in my back of my journal, so that I can easily flip back and look at it each day, before I write three daily goals down: daily personal goals, daily health goals, daily career goals.
Not sure what your vision of yourself is? Keep it broad. You can write something like, "I am thriving in a new career learning how to speak in front of large groups with confidence." Or, "I am a new mom with community support and outlets for creativity."
Whatever your dream self is, see it, feel it, believe it. What does this life feel like? Picture it in your mind and then see your present day self merging with this reality, buzzing with the excitement, contentment, ease, or whatever else you think it will feel like.
For extra help with setting goals, keep reading. Take your future goal and reverse engineer it. Want to land a management position in your field? Or to find other jobs that you might qualify for? Write the goal down in your journal, and start to back up until you can't anymore. Before interviewing, would you need to practice talking about your interest, simulate the interview with a friend? Before that, would you need to revisit your resume? Then, what is one thing you can do today to contribute to this vision? Be realistic. If you have a packed hour before you go to work or before the kids wake up, use that 5 minutes to schedule a section of your resume. Maybe if you've completed it, you can send it to 3 people to review it in .2 seconds at the end of that 5 minutes.
Set aside time in your morning routine. This can be an extra five minutes, or longer if you'd like to really dive in and ask some deeper questions. The most important thing to leave time for is daily goals. Make three columns: daily health goals, daily career goals, daily personal goals. Write down things that you know are plausible for today. At the end of the day, write down what happened today that you can celebrate, and take time to acknowledge the time and space you set aside for you!
More Journal Prompts for Extra Credit
1. How do I want to feel today?
2. Am I truly enjoying the chapter of my life that I’m in right now? If not, what are things I enjoy and how can I maximize my time with these things? What can I clear out of my schedule that allows for more time for the things that make me feel good?
3. The way I want to feel more often, even every day is....
4. What are things I can do to support me feeling this way today?
5. This is how I can feel the way I want to feel more often:
What's one small thing I could do to shift the energy of this chapter?
6. Am I being compassionate with myself, just as I am, while moving toward what I want?
Setting aside time daily to be with you is so important for your mental health. Daily ritual of completing tasks and celebrating your competency is actually wired as a need into your brain. So, if you haven't been doing this, don't beat yourself up. Just try it tomorrow and see what happens to how you're enjoying your life.