Dr Peggy Marshall

Harvesting Your Goals

Dr Peggy
It’s September-the month for harvesting the fruits of our labors.  Personally, I love this time of the year.  The children are back in school; we have taken our vacations and we are enjoying the bounty of the season.  Life also has cycles; we sow, we cultivate and we harvest.  This blog is about those three cycles and how we can maximize our potential in each of those cycles-especially since we are not dependent on the weather for our personal successes and can sow at any time of year.

How many times have you heard the expression “You reap what you sow?”.  This expression is true on so very many levels and can even be proven scientifically.   What are you truly planting in your life right now and is it what you heart desires?  Farmers do not plant corn hoping that soy beans will grow so why would we plant anything other than what we fully desire to achieve.  This is called congruence; aligning all of our actions with what we want for ourselves.  Brendon Burchard in “The Charge: Activating the 10 Human Drives that Make You Feel Alive” states “Most of us are congruent with how small we think of ourselves, yet we are not congruent in our everyday actions on how great we can be.”  We play small so that we can be safe.  Sowing the best seeds (actions) that align with the highest standards for yourself requires a ton of courage yet the results can be unbelievable.

Once you have clarity on what you are sowing, it’s time to cultivate.  In congruence terms, this means acting consciously every day in ways that lead to your own authenticity.   At a minimum you should be asking yourself if you are showing up each day aligned in a way that leaves you proud, complete, and fulfilled or are you just going through the motions of daily life?

While we are cultivating you might want to reflect upon any excuses you are making for why you aren’t more aligned with what you want for yourself.  What is really in the way-what’s the big excuse weighing you down?  Is it that what you have sown is too risky? Or too difficult? Or takes too long to grow? Or too expensive? Or no one supports or helps you grow? Or you just don’t have the energy?  In order to be successful, you have to gain clarity around the obstacles and then rewrite your story about the obstacles.

Jim Loehr in “The Power of Story” provides a framework for rewriting these stories.  The first step is to be completely honest with ourselves about the excuse in a statement that begins with “The truth is…”  What is the reality about the excuses you are making?  Next explore the real consequences of the behaviors; “If I continue on this path and do not change…?  This step requires that we are fully honest with what the lack of alignment with our goals creates in our life.  It is important to not minimize the impact of the not stretching for our goals as it can create patterns for future complacency with other goals.  Next you have to validate why the goal was chosen (what you sowed); “This goal is important to me because……”.  Going back to review the reasons for choosing the goal will reinforce your desire and can bring energy back into your life so that the goal feels more attainable.  Finally, the action step towards congruence; “From now on, I will….”  What steps will be taken to ensure that the excuses do not develop a life of their own and that your determination to achieve your goal aligns with your daily actions towards your goal?  It is important to write these actions down so that you can measure them frequently for alignment with your goal.

As we complete the cultivation step, we move on to harvesting.  How do you celebrate the successful bounty that you have created for yourself?  The challenges we have set for ourselves now deserve a sense of completion.  We know that rewards are important to ensuring that we continue successful behaviors.  Have you built in opportunities for celebrating small wins or are you simply focused on the final outcome?  On the journey to achieve your goals, there are milestones along the way.  Without stopping to acknowledge that we are in the process of achieving the goal, we remain solely focused on the outcome and forget to enjoy the journey.  Delaying celebrations/rewards can also derail our efforts as we can lose interest in the goal without reinforcement of successes.

Also, how do you share your successes with others?  Social support is a key to success and integrating this aspect into your sowing can provide for lasting reinforcement and engagement in your goals.  A word of advice here…make sure the people you invite to share with your are people who truly have your best interests in mind.  No need to set up a sabotage situation here!

Wishing you a successful sowing season!

Dr. Peggy