I just rediscovered an excellent article by Steve Pavlina today: Achieving Goals by Improving Your Character. Here's an excerpt:
Often a change in character is a crucial part of shifting your identity to become more congruent with your goals and intentions. For example, suppose you want to become more successful in your career, and you set a goal to reach a certain position. Maybe the main reason you haven’t yet reached that position is that your character attributes are out of sync with it. Perhaps you aren’t disciplined enough, confident enough, or resourceful enough to get there.
Once you can identify the character qualities you’re missing, you can consciously develop them. But as long as you remain in the dark about these deficiencies, it will be tough to reach your goal because you won’t yet be the kind of person who can achieve it. It’s like trying to lift more weight than your muscles can manage.
Select one of your goals or intentions, especially one where your progress has been disappointing. Now ask yourself if a person with different character attributes would be more capable of achieving this goal than you are. What kind of person would find your goal easy to achieve?
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What would a person with more self-esteem do in my situation?
- What would a person with more courage do in my situation?
- What would a person with more self-discipline do in my situation?
- What would a person with more confidence do in my situation?
- What would a person with more compassion do in my situation?
- What would a person with more gratitude do in my situation?
- What would a person with more centeredness do in my situation?
- What would a person with more flexibility do in my situation?
- What would a person with more curiosity do in my situation?
- What would a person with more resourcefulness do in my situation?
- What would a person with more wisdom do in my situation?
Steve's point is that once you identify the character traits that will best help you achieve your goals, you can go about consciously developing those traits. That's a great idea, but I found his idea helpful in another way.
If you have a tough goal you're working on and need to find fresh ways to move forward, working through the list of questions above in relation to your goal can help you identify, in a matter of minutes, several additional things you can do to move forward. (You can also add many other character traits or values to the list of questions -- but this "short list" is quite sufficient for now. Don't make the list too long or you'll get bogged down.)
If you apply these questions to any specific goal you're working on and write down at least one answer to each question, you'll probably identify very quickly some possible actions that a person with "more courage" or "more compassion" or "more wisdom" would take.
Here's the key: Since the action ideas you discover are coming from you, you already have within you enough of these character traits to act on at least some of the action ideas you identify. PIck one or two of the best ideas and run with them.
There are very few goals in life that cannot be achieved if you keep moving forward relentlessly, while staying flexible about your specific plan of action. This is one way of loosening up your thinking so that you can move forward with fresh ideas and actions.