Choice, Goals, Vision


“We must make the choices that enable us to fulfill

the deepest capacities of our real selves.”

Thomas Merton

All of us have beliefs that limit our experience of joy, that keep us from flourishing. Limiting beliefs are not necessarily negative thoughts, but they are beliefs about something that we want or would like, but that we think is out of reach.

What do you want, which, if you knew you could have it, you would want even more passionately?

What do you want, which, if you didn’t have to figure out how to get it, you would still clearly want very much?

What seems impossible– so much so– that you just don’t think about it much?

You have probably been told, somewhere along the way, that you should change your core beliefs. And then, if you listened, you were probably told to start excavating them, then write them down, then blame someone or something in the past that caused them, and then share them with some group and replace them.

There is another way. Admit to yourself what you really want, then write that down. Keep writing until you have in front of you everything you want. Then look at them all,  see what you want to keep and “own,” and throw away the rest of what looked like what you wanted, but really didn’t, or simply cross them off the list.

Put those wants together into goals for the next few years. Keep them loose and malleable, open to change. Your wants, when you really own them and “want” them and attach to them, will change your core beliefs as you admit them. As you identify and pursue what you really want, your core beliefs bend and change to fit them. If your core beliefs are authentic and workable for you, they will support you in pursuing your wants. If they are not, they will morph into ones that will.

Beliefs follow behavior, when you are clear about what you want. What if what you seemed to want ends up not being what you want? Then you find out what’s next. What won’t work is learning from someone else’s

Some balk at the idea of having goals because they think it means that they can't be the free spirits that they fashioned themselves to believe that they were. They wanted things to “just unfold” and realized that they had been unfolding all over the place, and that others have been all over the place keeping up with them without either a sense of direction or a sense of knowing who they really were. We believe that goals don’t limit us, but reveal the direction and the pathways to what we really want.

What is perhaps more surprising than anything is that our goals, when they really reflect both who we are being and becoming, give rise to a vision for our lives. Goals are the gateway to our personal vision. Goals “map” our brain and give it direction.  How we would give who we are to the world and leave our own unique legacies, with great freedom, leads us from being purpose-driven to vision-inspired. The particulars of the vision may change, but there will always be the guiding North Star when we aim our sights at finding out what it is.

From all of us at ANI, we wish you a New Year filled with wonderful new goals and directions, leading you to a new or renewed sense of meaning, personal significance, and vision.

Continuing Education for Coaches

1) Describe the process you have personally experienced in finding clarity around what you want and translating it all into your 5 year goals. What strategies have you used to guide yourself to this more authentic process of desire and goals? Tell us your story.

2) How have you worked with clients who are unsure of what they want and seem unable to set goals of any kind? Describe your coaching approach and the tools you use with these clients.

3) Reflecting on the quote by Thomas Merton, share an example from your professional or personal experience of a choice you made which enabled you to fulfill the “deepest capacities” of your real self. How have your training and work with ANI supported you in this process?

For Our Larger Blog Community

1) As the New Year approaches, how do you approach the issue of making resolutions? What factors influence your choice of what to address in these resolutions? Tell us your story with an example.

2) Have you ever pursued a goal only to discover that it really wasb’t what you wanted at all? Tell us the story and what you did once you realized what had happened? How did you “change course?”

About the author

Dr. William K. Larkin

Copyright © 2015 The Applied Neuroscience Institute