Last week, I used the principles of fiction writing as an analogy for creating well focused goals. I invited you to explore the idea of creating one primary goal for you "story" and formulating secondary goals that support your "plot line." This week, I introduce another element of fiction writing to help you examine your goals: Outer motivation versus inner motivation.
If you examine a work of fiction closely, you will see that most main characters have a tangible, specific goal they want to accomplish by the end of the story. For instance, in the original "Rocky" movie, Rocky wants to go all 15 rounds with Apollo Creed. This goal is Rocky’s outer motivation.
In one scene in the movie, Rocky reveals to Adrian why this goal is important to him. He's tired of people thinking he's a bum. Essentially, going 15 rounds with Apollo is a chance for Rocky to redeem himself. This is Rocky’s inner motivation, the emotional goal of the story. It explains why the goal is important to him. This inner motivation is what gives meaning to Rocky’s goal.
With these principles in mind, I realized that it might be worth checking out the inner motivations of my weekly chase goals and examining if and why they are meaningful to me.
Are they meaningful to my well-being?
Or are they meaningful to my ego?
If they are meaningful to my ego, am I attached to them in an unhealthy way?
Let’s examine some of the goals I have set during the weekly chase and break them down.
1) Spend more time with my kids: This is ego driven, motivated by guilt, since I did not think I was spending enough “quality time” with my children. Here’s the deal on goals driven by guilt. They may work in the short term but they don’t work in the long term. We all want to be good parents, but was this goal really about my kids? No. It was to stave off my sense of guilt.
I did wind up tweaking the above goal to the following:
2) Reserve an hour a day for myself. This was the “right” goal, since by allowing myself to put my own needs first, I felt “free” for the rest of the day to be present for my kids. The consequences of this goal : I may be cranky if I am forced to go a few days without my “hour,” but I’ll survive. In the big picture, it’s important to maintain this goal for the sake of balance, since all of us mamas need some time to ourselves.
3) Sleep: Taking care of our basic needs is paramount to living the life we love. When I am well rested, I am healthier, more level headed, and more energetic. The consequences for lack of sleep are illness, irritability, and lowered productivity. Therefore, this goal is meaningful to my well-being.
4) Run my fastest mile: This was ego driven. Ego driven goals are not “bad things,” so long as we don’t get overly attached to them. The consequences for me if I don’t reach this goal are inconsequential.
5) Meditate: For my life to work seamlessly, I need to stay consistent to my meditation practice. I need time in the morning to clear my thoughts and to remind myself that I have control over them. Simply stated, I cannot exist sanely in this world without meditating. My well-being depends on this goal!
If I had to pick and choose goals this week, the choices are clear. I need to meditate and I need to sleep. After that, all else will fall into place.
Ego goals are fine, so long as we are not clinging to those goals so tightly that our hands shake from the grip. If you feel like you are in an epic battle to get "it" accomplished, “battle” being the operative word, then maybe it’s time to ask yourself "Why is this so important to me?" “Is it meaningful to my well-being?” “Can I live without it?” “If not, why?”
Deciding we must accomplish something at all costs makes for an exciting movie plot, but it does not make for a manageable life.
Believe in yourself. Aim high. Know when to let go.
©2012 Ilene Evans