We all aspire to live the dream – but whose dream? Society sets standards for success that frequently relate to hard metrics like income, job, or relationship status. The criteria are arbitrary and seem to be chosen mainly because they are easy to measure. If someone is perceived as successful, we assume they must be happy and vice versa. But the notion of happiness or self actualisation is far harder to identify.
One of the most challenging parts of coaching and development can be trying to help people to really identify their goals and aspirations. People can struggle to identify what they want as opposed to what they think they should want based on social norms. It can take people years of climbing the ‘success’ ladder only to realise that it is propped up against the wrong wall. A concept so eloquently expressed by Stephen Coveney in ‘Seven Habits’.
To be clear, sometimes we need to make mistakes. Knowing what we don’t want is as important as knowing what we do. Coaching can help to navigate some of these experiences by really honing-in on personal values and drivers. By having honest and authentic conversations both with a coach and ourselves we become more open to a variety of opportunities. Giving ourselves a safe space to pause and mentally explore a myriad of prospects allows us to move from automatic to manual living.