The Loaded Goal

The loaded goal is that goal that seems to be your most important and longest-standing one -- it's the one that "for some reason, I don't seem to be able to make any real progress on," and "this year, I'm finally going to handle."
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Creating results in the world is fairly straightforward. If I want to lose weight, I take in fewer calories than I burn up, regardless of which diet, eating plan, or "lifestyle choices" I make in order to do it. If I want to accumulate wealth, I spend less money than I create (regardless of how much I create or what I do to create it), and keep the rest. If I want to write a book, I put words on a page repeatedly until they tell some semblance of a story or create the opportunity for the reader to learn and transform.

These formulas are common-sense, foolproof, time-tested, and will work for every single person that uses them. So if you're consistently not achieving something you say you want to achieve, it's probably not because you don't know how.

It's because that goal, whatever it is, has become loaded with so much extra thinking that you can barely face it, let alone achieve it.

The loaded goal is that goal that seems to be your most important and longest-standing one -- it's the one that "for some reason, I don't seem to be able to make any real progress on," and "this year, I'm finally going to handle."

What makes our thoughts about the loaded goal so frustrating is that it seems as though it should be easy. "After all," we tell ourselves, "other people are able to lose weight, make more money, find a partner, write a novel, get fit, etc. -- why can't I?"

The reason why it's so much harder to reach a "loaded" goal than a regular one is that your focus isn't really on the result you want to create -- it's on your thinking about you.

When your goal is loaded...

  • Getting fit isn't about being fit, and losing weight is no longer about weighing less (if indeed it ever was) -- it's about "overcoming your essentially lazy, good-for-nothing nature and proving that you can do it," or "if I lose weight, that will show that I'm 'good enough' to attract a man."

  • You don't just want to have more money (though that would be nice, too) -- you want to prove to your spouse/parents/colleagues/self that you do have what it takes and you will triumph in the end.
  • Writing a novel isn't about telling a story, it's about "being an author" or "fulfilling your potential."
  • As a coach, my clients consistently try to convince me that what we should really be focusing on is their loaded goal, whether it's winning an Oscar, losing weight, or becoming the first non-Asian leader of China. (Yes, those are all real examples!)

    But what I know is that in order to create results, we need to stop talking about what's wrong with you (your issues) or about what's right with you (your self-esteem) and put our attention where it will make the biggest difference -- on a deeper understanding of the nature of thought and the inner source of well-being and fulfillment in our lives.

    One of the simplest way to do that is to literally "take a load off" your mind and put that loaded goal off to the side. Take a few weeks, months, or even a whole year off from trying to think about it, reach it, or even deal with it. Give up. Enjoy your life. Have some fun.

    What will happen, counterintuitive though it may seem, is that you'll feel more and more clear and your experience of life will get better and better. Oh, you'll still be able to work yourself up into a lather about your loaded goal -- after all, it's loaded up with all your favorite hot-button thinking. But if you're willing to keep putting those thoughts back down and get on with your day, at some point, you'll look at your once-loaded goal in the context of your increasingly wonderful life and wonder what all the fuss was about.

    This is our psychological immune system in action. When we let our problems sit for a bit, they are as likely to dissolve as be solved -- because they only exist as thoughts in our mind. And the nature of thought is that when we allow it to, fresh thinking will come along and move us forward in any area of our life.

    What are your "loaded goals"? What are you afraid might happen if you were OK to enjoy your life as it is even without achieving them?

    Please share your answers in the comments section below, and if you put down your thinking and pick up with the rest of your life, I'd love to hear more about what happens...

    With all my love,

    For more by Michael Neill, click here.

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