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A new kind of goal for a next phase of life

As a coach, I have worked with numerous people who woke up one day feeling unsure about how to set goals. This was very unexpected for them. For most of their careers, they were top performers, who not only set big goals but consistently met or exceeded them. Suddenly, such goals – representing status, recognition and validation – felt less fulfilling.

Why is that, and if this is your experience, what can you do to shift your perspective to enter a new stage?

First, you should pause and recognize how far you’ve come. It is a sign of growth to question what has worked for you in the past, and to wonder if there is more for you to explore. You also have a great opportunity to increase your potential impact and role in the world. The path forward lies in moving from an external framework to a more internal one.

I have found time and again in my coaching that making this mindset shift unlocks a new sense of possibility about the future.

The following three reframes are a great place to start this work:

1. From “what do I want to do?” to “who do I want to be?”

In the swirl of our lives, it can be easy to get caught up in doing rather than being. But over time, many of the things we spend so much of our day-to-day focused on will fade into insignificance. So, what do you want to be remembered for? Rather than your title or status, perhaps it’s your generosity. People may not remember the outstanding presentation you gave, but the ways you shared your knowledge and experience with others.

Who do you want to be in this next phase of your life? What are the qualities that come to mind? Paint a picture of the person that you want to be. Perhaps there are skills that need sharpening - like being present or listening or being attuned to others. Perhaps there are new muscles you need to flex - like slowing down or truth telling or finding your courage. What are the ways in which you want to stretch and grow that go beyond who you have been until now? In this phase, the goal is not so much a place to get to, but the person you want to become.

2. From achievement to purpose

Until now, your goals have given you a sense of direction. Your self-worth may have been dependent upon your ability to achieve what you and others have defined as success. As our goals are fleeting and ever-moving, that sense of self-worth can also be fleeting and elusive. Fulfillment in this next phase is centered around purpose.

What brings you joy? What lights your fire? When do you feel a deep connection with yourself, with others, with the universe? What can you harvest from these moments of pure joy and fulfillment that help you understand your sense of purpose? And how might you create more space for being “on purpose” in this next phase of your life?

3. From “what do I want to get out of life?” to “what is life asking of me?”

Like many people, you may have been driven by the feeling of needing to go out and get what you want in life. It may have been admission to college, a degree, a relationship, a home, a bigger home, a better neighborhood. Fighting, striving, conquering. Fighting for that job, that promotion. Striving for status, wealth, even fame. There may have been struggles and challenges along the way, and yet here you are at the top of your game. You look back and see that life has given you much. As you enter this next phase, you might ask yourself, “what is life asking of me?”

To answer this question, you might start with your family and then widen the circle. What are some of the challenges facing your family, community, society and even the planet that you might be ready or able to respond to? How can you use what you have achieved in life to benefit the greater good? How might you take advantage of the platform you have to create a positive ripple out in the world? Is there a place you want to be active so that you can help usher in something new to benefit the whole? What do you want your legacy to be?

Life has already taught you that there is no single destination, but instead each goal is simply a starting point for the next phase of the journey. And so it is for you today. You have reached this point in your career which holds the potential for a rich and rewarding journey into coming back to yourself, to your “being.” It is a deep dive into living on purpose. And an invitation to create a legacy that future generations will look back on and say, thank you for who you have been and what you have left behind.


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