We are officially in 2021 and at the start of a brand new year. And after the messiness of 2020, now more than ever you are probably surrounded by cliché goal-setting and New Year’s resolutions. Whether you’re a person who sets resolutions or not, this energy always gets us thinking about what we want to change about our lives over the coming months.
Now, it doesn’t matter what kind of goals you’re reaching for this year or if you’re not even setting out your intentions in a clear-cut way, what I’m sharing today still applies. I want to bring your awareness to goal traps in this episode so that before you set out to change anything in your life, you’re not setting yourself up to fail before you’ve even begun.
Tune in this week to discover the three biggest goal traps that I see people falling into, especially during a time like this when we feel some pressure to change things. I’m sharing what might be wrong with the goals you’ve chosen for yourself, and how you can decide what you want for your life from a place where you’re more likely to create real, lasting, positive moves in 2021.
Welcome to The Widowed Mom Podcast, episode 84, Goal Traps.
Welcome to The Widowed Mom Podcast, the only podcast that offers a proven process to help you work through your grief, to grow, evolve, and create a future you can truly look forward to. Here’s your host, Master Certified life coach, grief expert, widow, and mom, Krista St-Germain.
Hey there. Welcome to another episode of the podcast. If this is the first time you’re listening, welcome. You’ve picked a good one to start with.
By the time this airs, it will be 2021, which means a new year. And maybe even more than normal, given the year we had in 2020, you’re probably inundated by all of the cliched goal-setting and New Year’s resolutions. And maybe you’ve already set some New Year’s resolutions. Maybe you’ve decided New Year’s resolutions are not for you. But regardless, if we want things to be different ever, then we have to approach them differently, right?
Something happened recently that gave me the idea of doing this episode. I’m working on an emotional freedom technique certification. You’ve probably heard me talk about it on the podcast before, but I’m in love with emotional freedom technique. EFT is also called tapping. And I have been using tapping for years. And I want to help my client use emotional freedom technique to help themselves.
So, I’m learning through a year-long certification process how to bring that tool to my clients. And so, I was in a workshop recently on EFT and I met a woman who has so many certifications.
She had a resume a mile long of all of these different healing, coaching types of certifications. And she shared with me – they split us up into little breakout rooms and so it was just her and I. And she shared with me that her worry is that she’ll never be good enough to help people.
And so, she’s kind of onto herself because she sees that she keeps adding to her certification resume, but she’s actually not out there using what she’s learned and helping people because of this fear that she has, this belief that she has that she won’t be good enough to help people.
And so, it’s no surprise that she keeps proving her belief to herself that she’ll never be good enough to help people. She keeps proving it to herself over and over and over, because that’s how the brain works. And she keeps thinking that the answer to her belief problem is in the next certification, that all she needs to do is just get this next certification.
But it’s not the answer because she gets the next certification, but she never changes the way that she thinks. She doesn’t change what she believes. And no certification can change how we believe. If it’s a belief problem, we can’t solve it with a certification. And I know she’s not alone. And so, with that in mind, I want to talk about some of the goal traps that I see clients falling into and I see people falling into.
Before we do that, I want you to consider, what is it that you want to do this year? It will be different for everyone listening. Do you want to make peace with your partner’s death? Do you want to figure out how to be less angry? Do you want to release emotions and trauma that are stored in your body, so you can finally start loving life again? Maybe this is the year that you’ve just decided, “I want to get my finances in order.” Or maybe you’re thinking this is the year that you want to start dating again or find someone again. Maybe you want to take a break from dating and just feel good about you.
It doesn’t really matter what it is that you want this year or where you are. What I want to share is relevant no matter where you are. I want to share with you these goal traps, so that no matter what you want this year, you do not fall into them so that before you even start this new thing, you’re aware of these traps and you’re less likely to fall into them.
So, there’s three basic ones that I want to share with you today. The first one is when you go to choose a goal, choose it because it’s what you want, not because your self-worth, your value, or your lovability is on the line. I love this quote by Dr. Robert Holden, which is that, “No amount of self-improvement will make up for any lack of self-acceptance.”
No amount of self-improvement will make up for any lack of self-acceptance. And this is what a lot of us are trying to do when we set goals. We put conditions on our self-acceptance. We’ve decided that we have to change, and then we can accept ourselves.
And so, we set goals to create the change that we think we have to create before we accept ourselves. But just like that woman in the EFT certification who was trying to earn her belief that she could help people with more certifications, self-acceptance does not come from self-improvement.
So, what if you, instead of setting a goal so that you could accept yourself, what if you decided that the goal is to just accept yourself as you are, grief and all? And then, once you’ve accepted yourself exactly as you are, then and only then, you picked a different goal because you wanted it, not because you think that the achievement of that goal will make you more acceptable or more lovable or more worthy.
I promise you, it will not. Your worth is already fully established. You don’t have to earn it. You don’t have to achieve anything to believe that. You don’t have to change anything about yourself or your life in order to fall madly in love with it. I feel like I need to say that again. You do not have to change anything about yourself or your life in order to fall madly in love with it.
If you are inclined to not believe me, then maybe falling madly in love with yourself or your life is what you consider for our next goal, without trying to change it. It really is true. If you aren’t madly in love with yourself, the reason for that isn’t because of the way that you are. It’s not because of the things you’ve done. It’s not because of your physical attributes. It’s not because of your personality or your job or your status as a widow or any of it.
It has nothing to do with anything that has happened in your past. It has nothing to do with what you look like. None of it. If you don’t love the nose on your face, it’s not because your nose isn’t lovable exactly as it is, even if there’s a giant wart on it. It’s because you’ve decided to put conditions on loving your nose.
And many of us are doing that. We aren’t thinking in ways that make us feel loving about ourselves or about our lives because we’ve put conditions on it. We haven’t given ourselves permission to love ourselves and our lives as they are, in the imperfect, human, current present state, we have not given ourselves permission to love. So, of course, we struggle. Of course we think things need to change in order for us to feel better. Of course we think we need to change in order for us to feel better. But we really don’t.
And when I’m talking about falling madly in love with yourself, I don’t mean like a conceited scarcity-based, “I’m better than you are,” kind of love. That’s not love.
I’m talking about abundant self-love, love that comes from, “I’m not perfect, and I’m amazing. And you’re not perfect, and you’re amazing. And all humans are not perfect, and yet innately amazing.” That’s the kind of love I’m talking about.
And I know you might be thinking, “But Krista, isn’t it selfish if I love myself? Won’t I just become self-absorbed and that’s not useful to everyone around me?” And the answer is no, absolutely not. Self-loathing and self-doubt are what keep us spending a boatload of time thinking about ourselves, focusing on our flaws, beating ourselves up, second-guessing our decisions. So much energy spent on ourselves because of our own self-doubt, because of our lack of self-acceptance and self-love. That’s what prevents us from being able to contribute to the lives of others. It’s self-doubt.
Self-doubt is what’s selfish, not self-acceptance, not self-love. self-love is abundant and generous. I want you to imagine, if you could just take all the energy that you currently spend beating yourself up, second-guessing yourself, criticizing yourself, doubting yourself, worrying about your decisions, if you could take all of that energy that is currently being used on self-doubt, what could you do with it?
That’s when we can be abundant and generous, when we can get out of our own heads. We can stop worrying about our own decisions and what other people think of us. Then from that place, from self-love, from that abundance, we can focus our energy on those around us. Self-doubt is selfish, not self-love.
If you want to be generous this year, or in the future, figure out how to love yourself more. And that will free up so much of your energy, and then you can love others more. But it really does start with ourselves.
Okay, so that’s the first thing. Choose a goal because it’s what you want, not because your self-worth, value, or lovability is on the line. Because no amount of self-improvement will make up for any lack of self-acceptance. That’s the first thing. Goal trap number one.
Number two, I want you to consider your commitment level before you decide to change something. If you’re not committed to a goal that you set, at least at an eight or a nine on a scale of zero to 10 where 10 is the most, and I’m talking 10 is the most committed you’ve ever been to something, you’re probably not going to follow through.
What’s really happening when we set a goal that we’re not truly committed to is that we just get this little temporary buzz. We get this little quick high. We set a goal. We don’t really intend to do the work to create it. But there’s this relief that we feel when we set the goal, “This time it’s going to be different. This time, I’m going to do it this way. This time…” and then we set the goal.
And we get this just little quick high. And it feels good momentarily. But it’s also the reason we’re disappointed shortly thereafter. When we set goals that we aren’t genuinely committed to, we erode our integrity with ourselves. When we set goals we aren’t genuinely committed to, we erode our belief that we can trust ourselves to follow through.
So, we keep up with this, “Well this time it will be different and all good things start on Monday.” But we’re not truly committed to that thing. We just found a little bit of temporary relief in saying that we were going to do it. But because we’re not committed, we almost never follow through.
So, what if you just decided that you’re only going to truly commit to things where your commitment level is already high? You stop shoulding on yourself. You stop telling yourself you’re going to do something you really don’t have any intention of doing. And you let those other things be for now and you trust that when the time is right, you’ll know. And then, we can focus our energy.
When we only commit to the things that are really important to us, that we’re truly committed to, we commit to something we’re committed to, then we can focus our energy in one area that we’re committed to, and we can make significant progress in that one area because we’re really committed. And then we’re not spreading our energy out to multiple areas and not really doing much in any of them except eroding our own trust with ourselves.
So whatever it is that you’ve been telling yourself you should do or you need to do or you have to do, just put that down. Put it down. Decide to do what it is you want to do. Decide to do what it is you’re already committed to doing and start there No more, “This time it will be different,” thoughts. It’s not working.
Okay, the last goal trap. And this one is big. If you want to create something that you’ve never created, you’re going to have to believe something you’ve never believed. And I promise you, the belief comes before the creation. I’m going to repeat that because that’s how important I think it is.
The belief comes before the creation of the goal. The belief is not a product of achieving the goal. Achieving the goal is a product of believing the belief. And I’ll give you an example.
Let’s say – because I hear this one a lot – you want to get your financial act together this year. Let’s say whatever it is that’s going on with finances, you want to change it. That won’t happen as long as you believe that you’re not good with money.
Because when you believe that you’re no good with money, you will feel doubtful or insecure or defeated. And when you feel doubtful or insecure or defeated because you think you’re no good with money, guess how you’re going to show up around money.
Humans that feel doubtful and insecure and defeated around money avoid money. We avoid discussions about money. We avoid budgeting. We avoid investing. And our brains just continue to do what brains do best and prove our current thoughts true.
Our brains will just continue looking for evidence of how we’re not good with money. So, it would seem like, if you just got good with money, then you could believe that you’re good with money. But as long as you continue to believe that you’re no good with money, nothing will ever change.
So, I know it feels backwards. I know it seems counterintuitive. But I really need you to trust me here. Achieving the goal is a byproduct of believing the belief.
If you want to feel happier more often, you have to stop believing you’re an unhappy persona and start figuring out how to identify as a happy person. You have to train your brain to find the truth of the new belief before you believe it. And then you feel your way into becoming the person who believes it.
It’s not standing in the mirror. It’s not just repetition. It’s not, “I’m happy, I’m happy, I’m happy. I’m good at money, I’m good at money, I’m good at money.” It’s training your brain to change those neuropathways that exist. It’s training your brain to find evidence of a baby belief that you want to have and nurturing it and practicing it and finding evidence for it and creating it and living into it and feeling into it until you’ve done it so much and so often and you have enough evidence for it that you actually believe it.
If you want to be a more patient parent, you’re going to have to start believing that you’re the kind of person who stays calm, no matter what their children do. When you believe that, you will live into it.
If there are things from your past that have created reactive patterns, you’re going to want to understand and resolve those, of course. But your belief that you’re a patient parent won’t come before your patient behavior.
Your decision to believe that you are a patient parent will be what allows you to display patient behaviors. And I know conceptually this might break your brain a little bit. Or you might find it super-easy to understand but not always easy to do. Either way, it’s possible, I promise. But we have to understand it before we can create it.
This is what I do a lot inside of my coaching program, is I help people uncover the beliefs that are keeping them repeating aspects of life that they don’t want but that they don’t know are optional, or they’re trying to solve them in the wrong way. They’re trying to earn their ability to believe something, which is painful and it doesn’t work very well.
So, before you set your next goal, I invite you to consider these three goal traps. If you’re looking for your self-worth and you’re trying to earn it by changing something about yourself or something about your life, it will never work. Your value and self-worth is fully intact. Your basic human goodness is already established. How can you find it as you are right now? That’s the goal. See it now.
Then changing things and setting goals becomes so much more fun because there’s not the weight of the world on the line. We have nothing to prove. Then we’re just humans on the planet creating life and having fun. So, don’t set a goal to try to earn your self-worth.
And secondly, consider setting only goals to which you’re genuinely already committed. Otherwise, you’re just setting yourself up to keep trading the quick high for your own integrity, and it’s not worth the trade. It’s just not.
Once you have that down – I’m not saying we can’t increase commitment with our thinking, because we absolutely can. But let’s just first start by picking goals that we’re actually committed to and let’s get some wins going there, and then later, if you want to work on creating commitment and cultivating it with your brain, then we’ll talk about that later, okay. But let’s stop this, “It will be different next time,” pattern and stop eroding our own integrity with ourselves by focusing first on the goals to which we are genuinely committed.
And lastly, if you want to create something you’ve never created before, remember, you’re going to have to believe something you’ve never believed before. And it might break your brain, this idea. But the belief comes before the goal creation. The belief is not the byproduct of achieving the goal. Achieving the goal is the product of believing the belief.
So, get out there. decide powerfully where to put your focus and energy, not because you should, not because you have to, not because it’s a moral obligation, but because it’s what you want. It’s what you want and it’s your precious life. And no matter what you’ve been through or who you’ve lost, you can love your life again, I promise. You don’t even have to change anything about it to love it again. And don’t let anybody, especially your inner critic, convince you otherwise, alright.
Alright, that’s what I have for you this week. Remember, I love you and you’ve got this. Take care, everybody and have a great week. Bye-bye.
If you like what you’ve been hearing on this podcast and want to create a future you can truly get excited about, even after the loss of your spouse, I invite you to join my Mom Goes On coaching program. It’s small group coaching just for widowed moms like you where I’ll help you figure out what’s holding you back and give you the tools and support you need so you can move forward with confidence.
Please don’t settle for a new normal that’s less than what you deserve. Go to coachingwithkrista.com and click Work With Me for details and next steps. I can’t wait to meet you.