Now that you’ve started to create distance from that voice that keeps you stuck, it’s time to set some goals to live life on your own terms. But before you can take the leap and truly stand in your own power and ask for what you want – we have to figure out what you want! And this means we have to figure out what you really want.

Let me explain. 

There are a few things that influence our goals and in order to truly live our life on our terms, we have to become aware of both the overt and covert beliefs that we have around the 12 core areas of our life you’ve explored before in the Life Balance Assessment. I’ve linked to that again below just in case you want to go back and update it for yourself. 

The three things that influence the goals that we set are:

  1. The “Shoulds”
  2. The Core Fears, and
  3. Not Going Deep Enough

Let’s start off with the “shoulds”. Our upbringing, society, our friend group, our immediate family, the important relationships in our lives, our work – all of these things influence our perspective. As we’ve talked about before, we are meaning making machines and assign meaning based on the mental filters that we have in any given situation. 

Before you can set truly aligned goals – you have to know what those mental filters are in order to remove the “shoulds” and make sure that you’re setting goals based on what you want, not on what other people have told you that you should want. Below you’ll see all 12 life categories listed out and if you toggle the category you want to focus on, you’ll see a list of reflective questions to help you become more clear on what you want for this area of your life. This is the first step, so take your time before moving onto the next step.

Once you’re clear on the area you want to focus on and have more awareness to the influences and “shoulds” that have been taught to you in that area, and have an idea of what you want it’s time to look at the core fear that’s settling in.

Let’s go over those core fears quickly:

  1. The fear of loss – or the fear of what people will think of you when you change, how your reputation will change, who or what you might “lose”
  2. The fear of the process – potentially worried about how much work it’s going to be, or  maybe not even being sure where to start
  3. The fear of the outcome – which often shows up as what if you put in all this work and effort and nothing happens and it was all a waste of time and energy

Acknowledge which core fear is holding you back, and then use a self-compassion script or letter writing exercise to work with that core fear.

And finally, the last thing we need to consider is not going deep enough. As always, I have an example for you: It’s easy for us to say I want to lose 20 pounds – but what do you really want? Do you want to just lose 20 pounds? Or do you want to feel healthy and confident in your body? Do you want to have more energy, have your clothes fit better, and not feel like your body is holding you back from doing what you want to do?

Dig deeper into your goals that you’ve set while you were uncovering the “shoulds” – what do you really want? This is especially helpful if you feel your goals are either not possible at all (like me deciding I want to be a professional hockey player at 39 years old having never played hockey in my life and having absolutely no balance on ice-skates whatsoever) or not possible right now. Dig into the deeper desires and motivations within your goals to understand what you really want. You can do this by continually asking yourself “why is this important to me?” until you get to the answer that feels aligned with that deeper truth as your Objective Observer.

As always, if you have any questions, please let me know in the comments below. Take your time, and have fun with this! 

Self-Study Activity

Choosing one life category at a time, tap the toggle and open up the questions – then start your self-reflection in the box below. You can either answer all of the questions individually, or use them as a brainstorming jumping off point for some free writing to continue to explore your mental filters and ingrained beliefs about this life category.

When you think of physical health, what beliefs and emotions come up for you?

What have you been told about physical health, body size, and personal responsibility around health growing up?

Are these beliefs you still agree with? Are these beliefs something someone else has told you that you “should” agree with?

How important is your physical health to you?

How happy are you with your current physical health?

How happy are you with your physical fitness levels?

How important is your physical appearance?

How satisfied are you with your current physical appearance?

What does Physical Health really mean to you?

What about your current physical health are you not satisfied with?

What would need to change in order to increase this satisfaction?

How would your beliefs, actions and habits need to change?

Are you satisfied with the your current level of mental health?

What would need to change in order to increase this satisfaction?

How would your beliefs, actions and habits need to change?

When you think of the concept of mental health, what beliefs and emotions come up for you?

What have you been told about mental health growing up?

Are these beliefs you still agree with? Are these beliefs something someone else has told you that you “should” agree with?

How important is being mentally healthy and strong to you?

How mentally healthy and strong to you currently feel?

How important is being emotionally healthy and strong to you?

How emotionally healthy and strong do you currently feel?

Are you confident and secure in who you are as a person?

How fulfilled are you in the current way you’re living your life?

How content are you with the way in which you’re living your life?

How important is being spiritually healthy and strong to you?

How spiritually health and strong do you feel?

Do you regularly invest time into developing yourself mentally, emotionally and spiritually?

Are you consistently competent and managing your emotions?

Do you feel you are managed by my emotions?

Do negative or destructive emotions take control of me?

Are you satisfied with the your current skill-set and personal/professional development plans?

What would need to change in order to increase this satisfaction?

How would your beliefs, actions and habits need to change?

When you think of the concept of personal and professional development, what beliefs and emotions come up for you?

What have you been told about personal and professional development growing up?

Are these beliefs you still agree with? Are these beliefs something someone else has told you that you “should” agree with?

How important is it for you to prioritize skills development and personal and professional development?

How capable do you currently feel in the important areas of your life and career?

Are you confident and secure in what you know and which skills you have?

Do you have a regular plan for when you work on personal and professional development? Is this important to you?

Do you have goals for your personal and professional development and a clear plan for how you can achieve this? Is this important to you?

How important are your family relationships?

How satisfied are you with your family relationships?

Are you/were you close with your parents? Are you okay with your current level of closeness, or is this something you want to change?

How important to you is it for your family to accept you?

Do you have enough other people in your life who accept you as you are without requiring you to change?

How is your relationship with your partner/spouse?

If you’re not in a relationship, do you want to be?

When you think of the concept of family, what beliefs and emotions come up for you?

What have you been told about family growing up?

Are these beliefs you still agree with? Are these beliefs something someone else has told you that you “should” agree with?

Who are the most challenging family members in your life? What is it about them that makes them so challenging to interact with?

Do you believe that these people have the capacity or desire to change?

What are the assumptions that I’m making about this challenging family member?

Do I have any evidence to support those assumptions?

Why do you think you respond the way you do to this challenging family member?

Think of a time when you’ve felt wrongly judged by this family member. What happened, how did you feel, and what did you do?

When you compare yourself to others in your family, do you find that you’re putting them down, or putting yourself down?

Often we find fault in others as a reflection of what we find fault in ourselves. We can react negatively to someone else’s strength when we identify it as a weakness for us. How do you see this showing up in your life?

Think of a recent interaction that you’ve had with a family member that left you saying “They just make me feel so_______” – which part of you, your core values, or your beliefs was triggered in this interaction? Is this part of you that was triggered something you still agree with? Or something you want to change?

How do you define intimacy?

What do I need to do, change, or learn about myself to feel ready to be in an intimate relationship? Or if you are in an intimate relationship, what do you need to do, change, or learn about yourself to feel ready to go deeper with your partner?

What do I need to feel safe in a relationship with an intimate partner? And what does that safety feel like?

Am I neglecting or have I ever neglected any of my own needs while in an intimate relationship? What are the circumstances or warning signs that I want to be more aware of to avoid this happening again in the future?

What past hurts do I have the potential of projecting onto this or any future intimate relationship?

What am I likely to hold back either in a future relationship, or in my current relationship?

Do I fear being honest? What can I do to change that?

Do I feel my contributions and communications are heard and noticed?

If I could end/radically change this relationship without guilt, shame, or emotional burden, would I?

Are guilt/shame preventing me from radically changing this relationship in a way I want?

Do I have enough independence?

How have I changed for better because of this relationship?

How have I changed for worse in this relationship?

Do I feel my values align with this relationship as it is today? Am I trying to shape this relationship to fit my values?

Do I feel my routines align with this relationship as it is today? Am I trying to shape this relationship to fit my routines?

Do I feel my needs align with this relationship as it is today? Am I trying to shape this relationship to fit my needs?

If this relationship was a relationship between two other humans, would the people I love and respect think it was healthy? Would I think it was healthy?

Am I happy with this relationship as it is today? How much work would it take for me to be happy with this relationship? Is that work I want to do?

How important are strong social relationships to you?

How satisfied are you with your social relationships?

Do you have close friends you can be yourself around?

Are you happy with your social network?

Are they primarily online or offline?

How do you feel about connecting with new people?

How well do you get along with your neighbors and people in your area?

How happy are you with the overall quality of your current relationships?

When you think of the concept of friends, what beliefs and emotions come up for you?

What have you been told about having friends and interacting with friends growing up?

Are these beliefs you still agree with? Are these beliefs something someone else has told you that you “should” agree with?

Who are the most challenging people in your life? What is it about them that makes them so challenging to interact with?

Do you believe that these people have the capacity or desire to change?

What are the assumptions that I’m making about this challenging person in my life?

Do I have any evidence to support those assumptions?

Talk about a time when your first impression of a person was wrong. How did what you later learned about the person change your relationship with them?

What is one group of people you tend judge? Why is it so tempting for you to judge them?

When you size others up, do you tend to write them off (condemn them) or walk away (avoid their problems)?

Why do you think you respond the way you do?

Think of a time when you’ve felt wrongly judged. What happened, how did you feel, and what did you do?

When you compare yourself to others, do you find that you’re putting them down, or putting yourself down?

Often we find fault in others as a reflection of what we find fault in ourselves.

We can react negatively to someone else’s strength when we identify it as a weakness for us. How do you see this showing up in your life?

Think of a recent interaction that you’ve had that left you saying “They just make me feel so_______”

How satisfied are you with your current financial situation?

Do you have enough money to fulfill your current needs?

Do you have enough money to fulfill your current wants?

Do you follow a budget? Do you want one?

Do you always know what is in your bank accounts?

How important is being generous to others?

How generous are you currently being towards others?

How satisfied with how much you give to others financially?

Do you associate generosity exclusively with money?

How important is charitable contribution to you?

How satisfied are you with your current level of charitable contribution?

How willing are you to step outside of your comfort zone & take new risks to generate more income?

How much do you worry about your current financial situation?

When you think of money, what beliefs and emotions come up for you?

What have you been told about money growing up?

Are these beliefs you still agree with? Are these beliefs something someone else has told you that you “should” agree with?

When you think of your current financial state, what thoughts and emotions come up for you?

What do you believe about saving and having money?

What do you believe about debt? How do you feel about paying your debts?

What do you believe about spending money? Are these your beliefs, or beliefs you think you “should” have? How do you feel when you spend money?

What do you believe about rich people? Poor people?

How do you feel when you hear someone say “I don’t have enough money?”

How do you feel when you hear someone say “Rick people are greedy, snobby, and stingy?”

How do you feel when someone gives you money?

What does your financial past look like? How do you feel about it?

What do you believe about money for your future? (saving, investing, debt, earning etc)

How important is having plenty of ‘free’ time to you?

How content are you with the amount of ‘free’ time that you have?

How much do you currently enjoy life outside of work or study?

Are you able to do things you enjoy frequently?

What about your current level of playfulness are you not satisfied with?

What would need to change in order to increase this satisfaction?

How would your beliefs, actions and habits need to change?

When you think of playfulness and free time, what beliefs and emotions come up for you?

What have you been told about playfulness and free time growing up?

Are these beliefs you still agree with? Are these beliefs something someone else has told you that you “should” agree with?

What about your current balance of life’s responsibilities and routines are you not satisfied with?

What would need to change in order to increase this satisfaction?

How would your beliefs, actions and habits need to change?

When you think of life’s responsibilities and routines, what beliefs and emotions come up for you?

What have you been told about life’s responsibilities and routines growing up?

Are these beliefs you still agree with? Are these beliefs something someone else has told you that you “should” agree with?

How important is managing routine tasks around your home to you?

How satisfied are you with how your currently handle routine tasks?

Are you disciplined in paying your routine household bills?

Could you be more disciplined in managing your bills and other important responsibilities? How important is prioritizing your responsibilities?

How satisfied are you with how you prioritize your responsibilities?

How important is a well managed home environment to you?

How satisfied are you with your current home environment?

How important is it for you to deal with home issues promptly?

Would your home life be easier if you had a better system in place for managing your routine responsibilities?

How much do you worry about your routine responsibilities?

How much easier would your life be if you were more disciplined in managing your routine responsibilities around the home?

Are you satisfied with the difference you’re making in your corner of the world?

What would need to change in order to increase this satisfaction?

How would your beliefs, actions and habits need to change?

When you think of having a life mission, what beliefs and emotions come up for you?

What have you been told about your role in contributing to society growing up?

Are these beliefs you still agree with? Are these beliefs something someone else has told you that you “should” agree with?

How important is contributing back to society & making a difference to you?

How satisfied are you with how much you currently give back to society?

Do you regularly make a positive impact in the lives of other people?

How satisfied are you with the amount of difference you make in the lives of others?

How important is leaving behind a meaningful legacy to you?

How happy are you with your current legacy that you would leave behind?

How much do you encourage or support those closest you?

Do you get involved with social initiatives that you genuinely believe in?

Do you feel that people find your presence and help valuable?

Do you want to make more effort to contribute to society?

When you think of work and careers, what beliefs and emotions come up for you?

What have you been told about careers, work, and a job growing up?

Are these beliefs you still agree with? Are these beliefs something someone else has told you that you “should” agree with?

What do you think of your current job (or most recent job)?

What do you find fulfilling and satisfying?

What do you wish was different?

What are some ways you can overcome these challenges at work?

If money, education, training and expectations of others were not a factor, what would you like to do for work?

What is it about this ideal job that makes you so excited and drawn to this kind of work?

If you wanted to change your job, what’s holding you back?

When you think about your dream job, what self-talk, emotions and thoughts come up for you?

When you tell other people what you do for work, how do they respond? What assumptions are you making based on their response?

How important are career achievements to you?

How satisfying are your career achievements to date?

How fulfilled are you in your current work? How much do you look forward to going to work each day?

Does your career stimulate you and develop you as a person? Is this something important to you?

Are you happy with your current work-life balance?

Is your career moving you forward in your life? Is this important to you?

How important are strong working relationships to you? How satisfied are you with your current working relationships?

Is your working environment positive and supportive?

Do you find contentment and fulfillment in your current career?

Do you want to change careers? How urgently do you want to create that change?

What about your current career are you not satisfied with?

What would need to change in order to increase this satisfaction?

How would your beliefs, actions and habits need to change?

You can complete this form as many times you’d like, working through the different life categories as you go. That being said, I would recommend on focusing on a maximum of three at at time to make sure that you’re working with your energy and nervous system, rather than have it start to work against you.

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