Imagine a mountaintop lake sitting at a high altitude in a pristine wilderness area. This lake is so high that it feeds innumerable rivers and streams coursing down to the sea. As seasons come and go, the rivers and streams fluctuate in the force and volume of their flow. Heavy rain may overfill this lake, giving rise to new streams that chart their unique paths toward the sea. So, too, times of drought may cause some of the streams to dry up—at least until the next heavy rainfall.

Each new stream must make its way down the mountainside. Sometimes there isn’t enough flow to sustain its coursing path, so it diminishes, its waters absorbed into the earth; it never seems to make it to the sea. Other times, a stream may encounter barriers that block its flow. It may become a pond and once again never reach its destination—the open sea. And with heavy rainfalls, new streams may burst forth over steep cliffs, giving rise to spectacular waterfalls. With such volume and power, these streams rush relentlessly toward the sea. (Gavin & Mcbrearty, 2019).

It’s a good bet that we’ve all had one of those days where something failed to meet our expectations. Perhaps we fell short of some goal set for ourselves or had to change course on a plan because it didn’t flow to the place that we wanted it to. In those moments, you may begin to feel like you failed, hit a barrier or just aren’t good enough to succeed at the task at hand. You may even begin to think catastrophically, with thoughts creeping in that try to create a narrative that you’ll never be able to achieve the goal set before you.

One could liken this catastrophic feeling to a Dementor’s effect like in the Harry Potter movies, feeding on our positive emotions and thus generating feelings of anxiety, depression and despair leaving only the negative thoughts of that moment to reflect on.

Expecto Patronum!”Whew, now that you’re aware of that catastrophic thought, you can stop it from consuming your day, reframing it with realistic and achievable goals can keep the thoughts from returning. It’s during these moments that we can work to reframe a negative narrative with a little positive introspective thinking and some helpful collaborative support to grow our mindset in ways that allow us to clearly envision our stream of dreams and goals.

I suspect you’ve heard the saying, “Life Is a marathon, not a sprint”? Well, this saying truly applies in building realistic and achievable goals. Instead of seeing things in long-term modes and constantly having thoughts like, “I’ll be happy when: I get promoted, drop that weight, make a certain amount of money,” and yes, even run that marathon; it’s important to remember to satisfy yourself with short-term goals and happiness knowing they flow down to the long-term achievements.

Starting your goal journey will take some intention on your part to really bring focus in on what you’re ultimately wanting to achieve and why it’s important to you. Small wins along the way will equate to big successes, so you’ll want to have an idea of what your long-term goal is which will help you with charting your flow and using those small successes to carry you on to that end goal.

Once your intention is clear, being able to uncover your larger story on what makes that goal important to you (and you alone) is a must. Then the work begins on discovering your intrinsic motivations, the barriers that could crop up and change your course, the support systems and skills needed to succeed, your understanding of the steps along the way to that goal, your resolve on reaching it, and a sustained motivation so you can make this change a lifestyle reality for the future.

Managing expectations, tasks or goal setting can be difficult at times and doing so isn’t really going to come from a one size fits all solution that someone else gives you. In fact, reaching our dreams, visions and goals may sometimes look much like a stream meandering one way to the other, making its way to its destination, the ocean. It didn’t go straight to that destination but learned along the way how to reach it.

Flow is a way of being. Find your flow and wash away the dam of barriers that have been standing in your way.

LEARN MORE

Charles can be reached by emailing charles@coachingtowardserenity.org or calling (513) 212-7995.

Charles Jacobson

is a National Board-Certified Health & Wellness Coach and Consultant for adults. He is an accountability partner in navigating behavioral change and exploring opportunities for growth and development.

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