Most people don't ask themselves what they truly want in life. Consistent goal setting could be exactly what you need to start living the life you want. People often have healthy and ambitious thoughts, but struggle to turn them into reality. If you're tired of feeling controlled by stress, anxiety or depression, read on to understand how you can regain control.
This blog post covers why goal setting can be so beneficial to your mental health and wellness. This is the second part of our interview. Ismene uses a blend of counseling and coaching to help you understand the "why" and the "how to move forward." She has been featured on BBC Radio, iTunes podcasts, and a variety of blogs. Ismene Cole is passionate about helping her clients achieve their greatest potential and creating the life they deserve.
Zach: Something related to you and writing your book, something you've mentioned a few times already, is goal setting. You seemed to stress it a lot on your profile as well, saying that it's important to set goals in all aspects of your life. Why is setting goals important for our wellness?
Life is busy. It’s very easy to just go with the flow. I don’t mean our natural internal flow, because normally we’re going against that. But you know: get up, go to work, get food, shop, pay your bills, see your friends… It's easy to get into that flow.
And most people don’t ask themselves what they want in life.
I’ve had a lot of people die in my life. It was stressed to me at a really young age that life is precious, short and uncertain. There are all these possibilities, but yet if you don't set goals and ask yourself in that process “what's important to me? what lights me up? what do I want to do?” and then set a process, 10 years can pass, 20 years can pass, a lifetime can pass – without meaning. Because we've just gone with the flow of the everyday. You need to say “I’m going to write that book!” or “I’m going to start that business!” and come up with an actionable plan. It’s probably just never going to happen unless you set concrete goals. And I think that happens to so many people.
Whereas if you set goals, even if you don't reach your goal, if you set them properly, the whole purpose of asking yourself what you want and making progress towards that is massively fulfilling.
Then you start to stretch what is possible. You do reach your goals. You start to have a really exciting life.
Zach: What does this process actually look like to you? Do you just make a mental note about your goals or do you write them down on a piece of paper and put them up on your wall? How does that manifest?
In the beginning I do a significant amount of mindset work. For example, if I was going to do something new I would spend a lot of time asking “what does that look like? what do I want? how would that fit into my life?” I ask myself the "why?", because that’s what keeps me motivated. Why is it important? What are the benefits going to be? And then I’ll spend quite a few weeks just in the process of thinking about it, writing it out, coming up with ideas, drawing it. And then when I really feel OK this is something that I really want, and I have to make sure because I’m a heart-led person, then I start figuring out "how do I break this down? What do I need? What's the practical part of this?" And then I put it on my vision board. And then on my online calendar. I break down the steps. Making sure I'm sticking with them as much as possible. I think that beginning bit is really important. People tend to skip that.
If you don’t spend enough time really thinking a goal through you lose motivation because you don’t actually know why it’s important, or what the benefit is going to be, or how it's going to impact your life.
I might spend a month thinking about something before I actually begin to pursue it. We’re all taught to jump into the action stage really quickly. People always ask me “I want this. How am I going to get it?” And I'm like "Woah, hold on a second." Because often if we jump into the how too quickly, we come to think the thing is not possible. Whereas if you spend the time really going into it, the "how" is a much later process and much less frightening.
Zach: That makes a lot of sense… In order to most effectively achieve your goals once you're set on them, do you limit yourself in terms of how many goals you might have at once?
Yes because through experience I know I’m not very good at completely realistic time frames. I can be way too optimistic. In the past, I’ve tried to do like 20 goals at a time. That didn’t go so well... I just crashed and burned. Now I have to be really strict about how many I take on at a time.
Ismene and I also spoke about unlocking your potential through therapy, whether workplace stress is actually misguided ambition (see this for techniques to reduce stress and anxiety in the workplace), and the importance of daily ritual to mental health. Follow our blog to hear more from Ismene on these and other topics.
To consult with Ismene Cole in-person or remotely from her UK office, contact her directly through her profile.
If you're thinking "I need a therapist near me" but Ismene doesn't specialize in what you need, try the RingMD therapist directory. We will help you find the right therapist for YOU!