The Rainbow of Goal Realization: Victory

V-I-C-T-O-R-Y.

I can’t see that word, spelled out in this manner, without hearing the battle cry from my grade school days. But what does victory really mean? What does it look like? Is it defeating an adversary to win the game? Is it crossing the finish line ahead of your own PR? Or maybe it’s simply overcoming an obstacle to reach a goal.

Chances are good victory has meant something different to all of us at different seasons in our lives. But however you define it, when it comes to the seventh and final step in The Rainbow of Goal Realization, specificity is key.

That’s why it’s important to start at the beginning, developing a full understanding of our reason for wanting to achieve this goal, and then getting organized by dividing it into smaller stepping stones.

But unless we have a clear picture of what each of those steps looks like as well as a precise vision of our final destination, it’s difficult to know when we’ve arrived and even more difficult to know when to celebrate.

And celebration is an essential part of victory. It’s how we show genuine appreciation to ourselves and others for a job well done. It’s how we build motivation and encouragement (again, for ourselves and others), recognize growth, and stimulate confidence and determination.

The best part is we get to establish our own definition of victory. We get to set the terms. And it doesn’t have to (nor should it) resemble anyone else’s version.

So spell out what victory looks like to you. And every single time you achieve it, I encourage you to do a victory dance, shout that victory cheer, and celebrate. Celebrate your win like there’s no tomorrow.

Revised Expectations

Photo by Ilya Pavlov on Unsplash

A couple weeks ago I was working to make some updates to my website. I had it all planned out, had envisioned exactly how I wanted it to function and what I wanted it to look like. And so, armed with plug-ins and templates and instructional videos, I dove in.

Many frustrating hours later, I conceded my defeat. Website: 1; Sandy: 0. Given my greenhorn status, there were just some things I wasn’t willing to do to get the results I wanted. Like manipulate code or start all over with a different theme.

But rather than throw in the towel completely, I wondered if I just needed to revise my expectations. I had successfully made the changes I wanted to make without upsetting the functionality or sacrificing the simplistic styling of my current theme, which were two of the things I liked most when I initially chose it.

Did my updates match my vision? No. But in asking myself if they absolutely needed to, I realized the answer was also no.

I find this to be true in life as well. That sometimes we can be so focused on forcing ourselves and our lives to fit into certain shapes, bending and stretching and twisting in order to match or exceed expectations—ours or someone else’s—that we are often either perpetually striving or constantly disappointed.

Sure, it’s good to have plans and dreams and expectations, but we aren’t fortunetellers. We can’t predict and plan for every contingency any more than we can manipulate every situation and variable to mirror our best-case scenario. And we wouldn’t want to.

In my experience, it is in the moments when we don’t get exactly what we want that create the most growth and wisdom. And sometimes a disappointment in the present leads to an unexpected opportunity in the future. We just need to be open to it. To stop trying to pick the lock on the door that has closed behind us and instead walk through the one that has opened in front of us.

Is there anything going on in your life right now that has required you to modify your mindset or adapt your expectations?

The Rainbow of Goal Realization: Inspire

Have you ever been inspired by another person? Maybe it’s a story you’ve heard about someone who has overcome a struggle or hardship. Or a friend or family member with the courage and determination to do that thing she’s always wanted to do. Or perhaps it’s someone who simply has an infectious spirit or zest for life. Someone with those qualities that you have yearned to see in yourself.

Chances are good you’ve said yes. That at some moment (or even several moments) in your life, you have felt a little tug after spending time with that certain person. Or you’ve heard from that tiny voice in the back of your mind after witnessing someone reach for and accomplish a challenging feat.

You can be like that, the voice reminds you. You, too, can do that thing that’s been on your heart to do. And maybe their story even fills you with enough confidence to spur you into action. Because that’s how inspiration works, right? That’s the point. To share the experience and wisdom we’ve gained through our own trials and challenges so others can learn from them too.

I believe it’s part of our calling as human beings. To love and serve and give to each other. To help each other develop and improve skills and grow into better versions of ourselves and just live our best possible lives. And serving as inspiration plays a big role in that. It also plays a big role in our own goals and that’s why Inspire is the next step in The Rainbow of Goal Realization.

Now if you’re asking yourself, “What’s the point? What do I know?” I get it. I have been filled with similar fears and doubts every step along this writing journey. From starting an author Facebook page even before my manuscript was finished to starting this blog.

The internet is already saturated with so much information that I ask myself often what I have to offer. And every time that doubt starts to get the upper hand, I remember something my husband said to me back in September of 2018, a week before I was set to launch that Facebook page.

He said, “Even if something you post only ever resonates with one person, but you never get to know about it, would that be enough?” My answer is the same now as it was then. Yes. The mere possibility of encouraging even one person is enough to keep showing up, to keep opening up, to keep lifting up as much as I can.

Not convinced? Here are a couple more reasons why inspiring others also helps us to reach our own goals:

  1. Reinforcement of good habits. Sharing our successes not only offers others some tried and true footsteps to follow in, but it also helps to bolster the daily practices we’ve found useful in our own pursuits. Think of it as a kind of accountability. After I started blogging about the obstacles I’ve encountered in writing my novel and the steps I needed to take to overcome them, I became less likely to fall back into those old, unhelpful patterns. Having voiced my struggles, it was much easier to see them for what they were and avoid getting repeatedly snagged in the same traps.
  2. New connections equal new growth opportunities. When we share our best practices with others, they are more likely to share theirs with us, and if we can remain open-minded enough, we can simultaneously learn more about them and ourselves. For example, although it is possible to write a book without any outside feedback, it’s probably unlikely to be the best that it can be. When we are really close to our goal—when we take ownership of it and it becomes a part of who we are—it’s difficult to see where our process might benefit from a few tweaks. But being open to receiving another perspective means garnering wisdom that we may not otherwise acquire on our own.

Now, as you prepare to take this next step toward realizing your goal, I encourage you to think about how you might inspire others. Is there a part of your journey that might resonate with your neighbor? Or maybe you have a certain gift or talent that would be beneficial to a local nonprofit. Whatever it is, don’t be afraid to share it. Choosing to uplift and cheer for others creates movement that eventually completes a full circle and it won’t be long before you notice that your efforts to inspire have left you feeling, well, inspired.

Phone Deprivation

Photo by Sarah Gualtieri on Unsplash

Last month I had the opportunity to experience what I’m calling phone deprivation—a period of time spent without using my phone. (Have your hands started to shake at the mere thought?)

Yep, ten whole days without a single glance at email, texts, apps, or alerts of any kind. (What about now? Any nervous twitches? Heart palpitations?)

Truthfully, I’d known in advance about this break, had planned for it—supplying family with an alternate avenue of communication and scheduling blog/social media posts ahead of time—and was actually looking forward to it.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some things about our digital world that I do enjoy. For one, the ease of staying in touch with family and friends. For another, the convenience of connecting with readers and other writers from all across the globe.

But sometimes the constant distraction of the rings, tones, and notifications is just that. Distracting. If we let them, all of our available screens can steal our focus away from other important things. Real things. Like the people we encounter on a daily basis. Or progress on our goals, rare opportunities, and just experiencing life.

That ten-day timeout reminded me how much I miss uninterrupted interaction and meaningful conversation and looking into other people’s eyes. It reminded me that I need to pay attention to my own screen time habits and that I have the power to limit them. I have the power to set (and stick to) office hours, to embrace the benefits of social media without sacrificing my sanity, and to take daily and intentional screen breaks to breathe, listen, and wholeheartedly notice the world around me.

What about you . . . do you already take or have you ever considered taking routine breaks from your phone?

The Rainbow of Goal Realization: Become

You’ve likely heard the phrase, “you are what you eat,” meaning the health of our body is largely dependent on our food choices. But when it comes to goal realization, I believe a similar sentiment is also true: we are what we do. To realize any goal—especially those big, long-term, scary ones—we need to become the goal.

Let me explain. When I first set out to write my novel, although I did spend some time at my desk writing, I spent even more time doing other, less essential tasks. I’d let fear and doubt take hold and take over, get distracted by thoughts like I can’t or I’m not good enough, and rather than powering through, I’d run away from my computer to do something easier. Something I could complete, control, and cross off my to-do list without having to deal with feelings of discomfort or vulnerability.

My husband and I had moved during this period and so I used that as an excuse for a stretch of time. I became a packer and unpacker, a painter, an organizer, a landscaper. But even after we were mostly settled into our new home, I found many more clever ways to avoid writing. And in the midst of these months and years of little to no progress, I was still adamant that I wanted to be a writer, and many days, even claimed I was one. But if I was being truly honest with myself, I’d have realized that the only thing I was successfully becoming was a procrastinator.

So how did I turn things around? How did I finally start achieving my goals and subsequently finish writing the novel I’d wanted to write? Simple. By actually becoming the writer I wanted to be. What that required of me was adopting and embracing three important traits: courage, commitment, and consistency.

  1. Courage. One of the most difficult things to overcome in goal realization is fear. Fear of failure, fear of appearing foolish, fear of rejection and criticism and judgment. There is so much uncertainty that goes along with stepping out of our comfort zone to do something different and make a change, but doing so is almost always a prerequisite of reaching a goal. And unfortunately, the courage we need to do that usually only comes AFTER we’ve taken that first step. The good news: courage begets courage, so once one step is behind us, we’ll have developed more courage to take the next. But courage is not enough. We must also possess a certain level of commitment.
  2. Commitment. What we want to achieve is what we will make time for, but that desire is not enough. It must be accompanied by the motivation, determination, and endurance to stick with it for the long haul. Much like a marriage, if we truly want to achieve this goal, then we must be devoted to it. We must give it the time and attention it needs to grow and progress even on the days we don’t really feel like it.
  3. Consistency. Progress creates progress which creates more progress. The more consistently we do something, the more it turns into a habit. The more habitual the work on our goals becomes, the more those goals (and our growth and development and effort in reaching them) becomes a part of who we are.

Courage + commitment + consistency = the pathway to becoming our goal, and this equation is the next step in The Rainbow of Goal Realization. Go ahead and take it.