When we aren’t reaching our goals, we naturally look at what is stopping us. Sometimes we focus on what is “wrong” with us. The thing is, telling yourself that you need to “fix” yourself isn’t very motivating. It doesn’t inspire change.
What does inspire change is imagining your Big Vision for your work in the world and then learning how to make your Big Vision real. What I love the most about framing your journey from vision to reality as a learning process is how it relaxes people. When clients feel like they have to fix themselves, their shoulders hunch up and they smile grimly. When I tell them they’re going to be learning how to make their Big Vision real, their shoulders drop and their face floods with relief. You’re going to be way more open to change if you’re relaxed.
Try it yourself!
1. Write down your Big Vision for your work in the world.
2. Then try writing a fix yourself goal: “By [date], I will fix [your challenge] so that I can [your Big Vision].”
How do you feel?
3. Now try writing your Big Vision as a learning opportunity: “Between now and [date], I will learn how to [area to develop to reach your Big Vision] so that I can [your Big Vision].”
How do you feel?
Here’s a more concrete example.
Let’s say someone’s Big Vision is to write a book about art and climate justice. They’ve been saying that they’ve wanted to write it for years, but it doesn’t happen. First they might say, “By March 2023, I will fix how I manage my time so that I can write a book about art and climate justice.” On their second pass they might say, “Between now and March 2023, I will learn how to manage my time, so that I can write a book about art and climate justice.” One is a demand. The other is an opportunity.
My hope is that framing your path to your Big Vision as a learning journey will allow you to take pressure off yourself. That it opens you up to the idea that realizing your Big Vision takes experimentation and practice. Mistakes are part of the process. It takes time and a lot of stumbles to learn how to do and be something new.
Let me know what it’s like to line your path to your Big Vision with learning goals rather than fix yourself goals. Share in the comments or shoot me an email.
Note: The ideas in this post are extrapolated from a Case Western University class I recently completed, Conversation That Inspire: Coaching, Learning, Leadership and Change. The curriculum is based on Richard Boyatzis’ Intentional Change Theory.