Last week we discussed how individuals, in the west, are taught goal setting strategies that do not produce the objectives they truly desire. We looked at how the goals of these individuals often comes from the level of their ego or self-concept. While we may believe that a new car, job promotion, or a relationship will bring us the fulfillment that we deeply crave, the truth is that these things will only give us limited levels of happiness, which eventually fades away. In part 2, of this 2 part series, we will continue to explore the problems with goal setting strategies by looking at ideas of mindfulness. [Problems with Goal Setting Strategies (Part 1)]
Problems with Goal Setting Strategies: Self-Awareness
Another major issue with the goal setting strategies that are found in the western world revolves around the limited attention paid to increasing self-awareness and mindfulness. If you read any self-help best seller, watch the most famous personal development orators give a speech, or listen to a personal growth audio program, you will be told that after you have set your goals, which often aren’t selected to bring the greatest amount of fulfillment into your life, you need to formulate plans to reach these objectives, take action, evaluate your progress, and make changes to the strategies that aren’t producing your desired results. While this simple strategy is a useful layout to follow, the industry as a whole has failed to emphasis the importance of evaluating your progress through self-awareness and mindfulness.
Throughout our lives, we continually develop habits and beliefs that are shaped by the experiences we have. As an individual becomes conditioned to behave and think a certain way, much of what they do and say to themselves happens at an unconscious level, it happens as if they are on autopilot. Many times the process of goal achievement doesn’t manifest because of the unconscious behaviors and internal dialogue patterns that we have accumulated throughout our life.
Lacking Mindfulness in Our Achievement Approach
To exemplify the importance of mindfulness, or self-awareness, we can look at a scenario where an individual is looking for a new job. Over the course of a few months, this individual excels at applying for jobs that typically lead to interviews. However, with each interview comes another failed lead. This person may start to internally ask questions such as, “What am I doing wrong?” and “Why are these companies not hiring me?” after learning that he or she didn’t receive the job offer, yet is completely unaware of the internal dialogue patterns that are taking place before, during, and after the interview. If you were to ask this person “What types of thoughts were you having before the interview?” they most likely would be hard pressed to tell you about the internal self-talk that was happening in their head.
This happens because we don’t put enough emphasis on incorporating the ideas of self-awareness into our personal development strategies, and this is a problem because we oftentimes remain unconscious to the thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that are prohibiting our success. Before each interview, this individual may be internally saying things such as, “You are going to screw this up,” or “Don’t make a fool out of yourself,” which will typically manifest as their reality.
Why Self-Awareness is Vital to Achievement
When we take the time to increase our self-awareness and use it as a tool for personal growth and development we will be able to find the triggers, beliefs, and behaviors that are prohibiting our success. Once we find these roadblocks, we can then question their validity and find ways to work through these limitations. One thing that you should remember is that just because you have a limiting belief, it doesn’t mean that it is you. Ask yourself, “Who has the ability to be aware of the limiting belief?” and you will see that you are far beyond any thought, action, or internal dialogue pattern.
Increasing our levels of self-awareness will not only allow us to determine the triggers that prohibit our success, but it will also allow us to determine if our actions are beneficial for others and ourselves. Oftentimes our egos become so determined to achieve, that we neglect the well being of others. This causes us pain and unsatisfactory feelings at the deepest levels of our being, which is counterintuitive towards our pursuit of our ultimate goal; fulfillment.
How Can We Increase Our Self-Awareness or Mindfulness
The teachings from the ancient spiritual traditions of India put great emphasis on increasing your mindfulness and have ageless practices that will help you develop an increased level of consciousness. Meditation is the primary vehicle that you can take to increase your levels of self-awareness, which will directly increase your ability to achieve your desired outcomes.
By cultivating your self-awareness through meditation, and then using this increased self-awareness as a personal development tool, you will be able to pick up on limiting beliefs, behaviors, and internal dialogue patters. You will also be able to determine if your goals are coming from the deepest part of yourself, where true fulfillment can be found, and decide if your actions are in anyway hurting others in the process. This ability will equate to accelerated personal growth and goal achievement.
Now that we have looked at two problems with the personal development strategies of the west, let’s hear from you. In your past experiences with western personal development/goal-setting strategies, have you found any developmental tools that need to be shown greater significance? Do you have any issues with how the personal development processes are presented to you?