Greetings To All,
Sometimes our goals and our reality seem to be on
different paths and we have a hard time getting both
to cooperate. We really want our goals and reality
to be the same, yet there seems to be real competition.
This month we explore some thoughts about that dichotomy.
Living with Our
What happens when we come face to face with our own inconsistencies?
It may happen when broken New Year's resolutions become far
too apparent to ignore. Or, it hits us when we say one thing
to our children, and an inner voice reminds us that we don't
walk our talk. At work, we make a bold statement to our peers
and feel a twinge of guilty conscience and hypocrisy inside.
Most of the time we kid ourselves with a system of delusions
and denial. We say we are one kind of person, while doing
things that are contrary to our desired image.
Psychologists call it "cognitive dissonance,"
a state of discomfort when we say one thing but do another.
We will go to any lengths to avoid that feeling, hence we
construct an elaborate system of delusions, denial, and some
behaviors we don't even notice.
To face the fact that we aren't acting like the person
we believe we should be is painful and unpleasant. We don't
have time for that. Negative emotions get in the way of our
being productive and focusing on the tasks and goals at hand.
So we live with incongruities and denial, and our battling
inner selves seem to be just part of who we are. We find a
way to excuse ourselves. We are forgiving of our inconsistencies.
We're only human, after all.
The Price of Self-Ignorance
The price we pay by not facing these paradoxes is fatigue,
irritability, and lack of energy. It takes a tremendous amount
of energy to maintain the different sides of our personality
in some sort of harmony.
Most people don't recognize the extent of their inner
complexity. We grow up with ideas of who we are or who we
should be that are given to us by our parents and teachers.
"Oh, you are such an extravert, you just love being with
people" is a message that doesn't recognize your desire
to be by yourself. So we think we are one way and don't pay
attention to our other side.
The truth is that we may have a preference for a certain
set of behaviors, but that doesn't mean that we don't act
out of preference, depending on the situation.
We run into trouble when we set goals that do not take
into account the differing sides of our personalities. We
say we are health conscious and set a goal of eating healthily
at least 80 percent of the time and working out 5 days a week.
When we fail to maintain our healthy lifestyle, we get
down on ourselves, blaming our lack of willpower and discipline.
But there may be another explanation.
We have competing selves and competing commitments. On
the one hand, we may truly be health conscious and want to
maintain a set of healthy standards. On the other hand, we
may also be committed to having fun and enjoying life. These
two values may compete for attention, and usually the goal
of immediate pleasure will win out over delayed satisfaction.
We may value family life and work hard to give our family
things that provide pleasure and comfort. But what happens
when our commitment to work and financial success interferes
with spending time with children and spouses?
What about our sense of orderliness? What happens when
our focus on getting things done overrides getting the most
important things done? In order to pay attention to what really
matters, we may have to let organizational chores go.
One way of becoming more aware of the things that motivate
us and their competing forces is to work with
a coach. A personal coach can help acquaint you with self-assessment
tools to increase your knowledge of what really drives you.
There are many such tools available, and all lend increased
awareness of our individual personalities and drivers. A look
at the Reiss Desires Profile of common desires will shed some
light on our basic drives. According to Stephen Reiss, Ph.D.,
there are 16 basic desires. They are listed here:
Everybody is motivated to a certain degree by these values
or desires. People have high, medium, or low motivation in
each area. We are motivated to express our values. Knowing
what motivates us is an important element to being able to
commit and prioritize our energies.
Success-oriented people tend to be high in Status and
Leadership desires. What is interesting is to look at how
the desires that motivate us can compete for our attention.
The desire to maintain order and tranquility may conflict
with a strong desire for family activities. It is difficult
to have both. Similarly, it may be difficult to satisfy a
desire for competitiveness when one also has a strong desire
for honor or idealism.
Identifying Competing Values
Human beings are complex animals, with
competing drives and a multitude of values. It is not easy
to know oneself well. How do you honor core values without
self-knowledge and the ability to juggle more than one competing
How do you gain self-awareness so that
appropriate goals and priorities can be set?
Try to identify 3-5 areas that motivate
you strongly. Then identify any competing values that also
must be satisfied. Working with your coach will make this
Once you identify your strongest desires,
and the competing drives that vie for your attention and focus,
revise your goals and priorities to honor both sides of your
Both sides of you will love you for it!
If you haven't explored coaching, please give me a call. I
would love to be part of your exploratory process and help
you find a coach. I can be reached at 312-842-4577
me . You might also enjoy visiting my web site
Have a great month.
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