Achieving a goal. Why is it that, sometimes, achieving a goal leaves us feeling satisfied and content, and other times we can be left feeling empty and under-wowed? In my coaching practice, goal attainment is a central topic. Individuals typically work with me because there’s a specific goal they have in mind or because they are confused about their feelings of dissatisfaction after attaining what they thought was what they wanted.
Why, when we’re achieving our goals, are we often left feeling unfulfilled?
From the hundreds (possibly thousands) of conversations I have had with clients, I believe it’s the source of the goal that makes the difference. Often, we feel unfulfilled because we are achieving someone else’s goals or desires. Maybe it’s societal expectations, or what your family expected of you, or the identity you’ve created among colleagues…but there is some external influence that is driving and shaping your goals.
When your goal stems from unconscious productivity
In my upcoming book (out October 25, 2022!), The Big Scale Back: Success and Balance By Your Own Design, I refer to goal-setting according to external influences as unconscious productivity. It’s a vicious cycle of hustling to accomplish goals that have been set by outside forces, comparing and validating yourself against those external and outside forces, and then striving to accomplish even more based on those external comparisons.
I think this is at the crux of dissatisfaction and impacts your ability to find work-life balance – or, more specifically, work-life fulfillment. Hustling and striving in service of others’ goals is exhausting, depleting, and – at its most extreme – soul-crushing.
When your goal stems from conscious productivity
Contrast this with what I call conscious productivity, which is when you connect with your own truth, inner compass, and natural constitution to set goals that stem from your own natural talents, interests and rhythms. You then assess, refine, and align as you go through ongoing self-awareness and self-reflection.
This is what’s at the heart of work-life fulfillment. When your goals are in alignment with who you are, what you value, and what you bring to the world, you’ll find yourself energized and focused on what really matters to you.
These concepts may sound simple enough, but putting them into practice can be challenging: confronting your long-held beliefs about work, productivity, success and ambition can have you questioning your very identity. When you start to make changes, it can disrupt relationships. But, despite the challenges, I believe the journey is worth it to live a life aligned with your true nature.
The path to conscious productivity: when your goal is aligned with what’s true for you.
If you’re curious about moving from unconscious productivity to conscious productivity, the first step is understanding your beliefs – more specifically, your limiting beliefs – about work and life. Check out my recent post, Your limiting beliefs are blocking you from your greatest breakthroughs for more about limiting beliefs and practices to get you started.
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