When facing a problematic situation, most people tend to spend more time focusing on the problem rather than setting clear goals of what they want to achieve. Solving their problem is much more difficult without a sense of direction and clarity in regards to what it is they want. Sooner or later this will backfire if we only focus on getting rid of the problem.
By focusing on getting rid of the problem, we tend to focus on the past and what’s going wrong instead of focusing to the future and what we could do in order to change the frame on the entire matter. What we focus on now is the unwanted issue, not the set of desired outcomes. We also have the tendency to focus on something that is familiar to us, something that, even if painful, gives us some sort of control as opposed to an unknown outcome in trying to achieve the desired outcome. Are we going to fail? Are we going to get hurt while trying to change the situation? Is the whole problem going to get worse instead of improving? Are we going to be a different person afterwards? Are we going to like the person we’re going to become?
Some time ago I worked with a woman in trying to understand why, every time she was trying to solve the same problem (changing job), the very same scenario would unveil before her eyes: she’d end up hitting hard against the wall and finding herself at the starting point, only with much less energy and self-esteem. We started thinking what went in her mind when she was taking action to find another job. First of all we found out that she was focusing on what could go wrong; she was focusing on everything that could have happened had she decided to leave her permanent (but boring and unsatisfying) job to move to a new role (perhaps temporary and as boring as the current one); she was focusing on being rejected after every single job application because “there are people with better skills then mine”; she was consistently thinking of “being stuck in an unwanted situation and not being able to get out of it”.
As a self-fulfilled prophecy, she’d end up applying for positions underestimating herself, her skills and experience and would end up being rejected all the time or not applying for roles she’d have loved doing because she didn’t feel good enough for them. We decided to first work on recognizing her skills and achievements, on gaining awareness of what she was capable of and understanding that there was nothing she could do about the competitive job market climate. We started to focus on the future and the desired outcomes.
After a while she managed to find a new job, but she realized that, even if it was actually a career advancement from the previous position, she didn’t feel accomplished in the new role. She found herself thinking “after all this work and frustration, is this it?”. She was now the manager of a successful company, but all she could think about was that she didn’t feel herself in this job. What happened to her? Why wasn’t she happy after all? The reason why she wasn’t happy is because she had lost one of her most important values in life. What are some of the feelings most important to us that we aim to experience on a consistent basis throughout our lives? Is it more about success, power, growth, adventure, health, integrity or love? What’s making us feeling good?
We make decisions in life based, between other, on our personal hierarchy of values. We also chose our partners, our dream jobs, our friends, etc. based on these values. So when we are not keeping them into account, we might also risk losing our purpose: to feel those desired emotions once we have achieved our goals.
Whenever we chose a new job for example, it’s good that we keep in mind how we want to feel in that position. In my client’s case, she had lost her value of listening and supporting people. She was now working hard on projects that aimed to help people, but she wasn’t dealing with them first hand anymore. All she had to do now is to try finding a role that offered her to fulfill all her values at ones (which happily she did by the way!).
By focusing on your personal hierarchy of values, you will find that setting and achieving your goals will be easier. This is a successful approach I often work on with my clients as part of the therapy.
I hope this will give you some sense of perspective and direction to positively look at your future opportunities with enthusiasm. If you feel like you are stuck in certain patterns in your life and you always end up in the same unwanted situation, please feel free to contact me sending a message through the box you find at them bottom of the page so I can help you with achieving what you really want in life.