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Flexibility in Goal Setting - How the path is not always a straight line

When setting a goal you will often hear people talk about making it SMART ( specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely) this approach amongst other goal setting approaches is of course useful and something commonly used in coaching; where you the client are aiming to be focused and accountable for what you achieve.

This week, however, I want to explore how we can utilise flexibility in goal setting to allow for opportunities and reduce rigidity in achieving your outcome.

There is a phrase (in one of the NLP Presuppositions) that explores a concept that I will paraphrase as "the person ( or system) with the most flexibility will create the most choice/have the most influence" ( linking to The Law of Requisite Variety and The Fours Pillars, Robert Dilts)

Sometime's being too focused or specific, can in itself be a barrier to the success or progression towards your desired outcome.

When establishing a goal there will of course be aspects that need to stay fixed, yet in exploring those areas where opportunities can spring from you will learn what is most important in getting to your vision and achieving that change!

You will no doubt, be familiar with phrases such as " if it isn't working change it" and " if you always do what you have always done, then you will always get what you have always got" and I draw on these simply to highlight that there is more than one way to get from A to B and having the courage and flexibility to be open to this helps you in exploring your route!

You may ( in your goal setting) have made an absolutely blinding plan of how to get to your outcome.

...Then the unexpected opportunity comes into view dazzling you in the face or quietly nudging you to be noticed. Maybe you feel a bit confused when this happens, because " I didn't plan for this?" . This can lead to unexpected decision making and perhaps a bit of "what if" scrutiny, nerves or hesitation?

There is a difference between being a bit flimsy with a goal ( I have talked about priority setting in a previous blog) and I am certainly not endorsing you to saturate yourself with options and choice. When these "unknown" opportunities come along they can indeed feel like a bit of a roller-coaster.

So how might we increase our opportunity to succeed? Here are some suggestions to enhance flexibility without losing sight of the goal.

  1. Remember to pause - Momentum is great when moving towards a goal and yet sometimes it can benefit to stand still, pause and scope the horizon ( Metaphorically or maybe literally). Taking time to pause also helps opportunities to find us.

  2. Consider that the plan to get to your destination is not always a straight line.

  3. All alternatives are opportunities for learning and development (You can learn to change "failure" or "fear of Failure" to a frame in which, instead, these challenges are also opportunities for self-development or a rehearsal towards success)

  4. Check in with your heart - when you are in the midst of the speed of life, being a busy bee or surrounded by a plethora of choices. Take a moment alone to check in with your heart ( gut and head), they are your most loyal committee. Trusting your Self to make useful decisions or even gamble on an experience to learn. Ask yourself, does this feel right? Can this truly get me towards my goal? Acknowledge your acts of Courage in making these choices.

  5. Review and Refine- we are constantly evolving, moving through space and time taking. It's ok to acknowledge shifts in priority, circumstance, capability or where your goal fits in your wider plan. If you doubt your goals validity unpicking some of this can be extremely useful in refining and mastering your outcome. This is part of Flexibility

Sometimes getting from A to B is an unexpected adventure, what opportunities are just around the corner for you, somewhere where you hadn't even thought to look... Until now!.

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