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Aspirational vs. Accountable Goal Setting and the Impact of Self Image

Making lasting change within yourself is a systematic process. The barriers that exist between you and your goals, stem from your self image and the system for your life that you’ve designed around that image. Identifying how you view yourself is a necessary first step in identifying the individual behaviors that keep you from achieving lasting change. In our next blog, we will go through the 7 Barriers to Change, and how they manifest within our systems of existence. For today, we will give you the tools to prepare for identifying those barriers, and work through some of the more obvious challenges. As a supplemental learning resource we also offer this content in video form here.


As we discussed in our previous Goal Setting workshops, there is a lot of power that comes from bringing consciousness to choices and behaviors. Understanding the “why” of our behaviors is an essential piece of finding solutions.


What are some barriers that keep you from your goals?

Some that we commonly hear in our workshops include:

“I felt too tired”, “I didn’t have enough time”, “There was something that I wanted to do more”, “Something else demanded my attention”, “I wanted what I was doing to be perfect, so I got caught up in everything I needed to do to complete my task, and ended up not getting anything done”.


There are many things that can get in the way of what we want. There are many emotions we may feel when we get diverted that can impact our outcomes. You may feel frustrated, angry, sad, disappointed, or even stressed when you get diverted. In response to those emotions I offer a change in perspective.


Consider how you view your path to change. Many people think that changing behavior alone will equal results. However, there is something that exists a step outside of just behavior, that influences us and ultimately impacts our outcomes. That something is ‘Self Image’. How we view ourselves outlines our systems of existing, and thus outlines our path to change. Our self image influences our behavior, and then impacts our results.


Before we can change our behavior, we have to identify how we view ourselves, and our capabilities, and create clear and steady changes that align with that image. The method of changing our behavior will require us to first change or work with how we view ourselves. That is where we find the difference between aspirational and accountable goal setting.


The Two Pathways to Change: 1. We challenge our self image head on (Aspirational goal setting)

2. We work with/or change our self image with small steps that lead to lasting change (Accountable Goal Setting)


While the first path is not impossible to manage, using a method that goes against your self image will often result in your ego creating areas of resistance. This can manifest in ways you didn’t even consider, and cause you to feel those negative stress inducing emotions. This path may lead you to those usual barriers we see mentioned above that keep us from our goals. Ultimately, no sustainable change in behavior can exist until we change our self image.


The second path will work with, or change our self image, and is more likely to build more authentically around you. In order to find success on this path, you need to clearly define your goals and the steps necessary to achieve them. This is where we set up to define our self image.


In defining your goal, it is essential that that goal aligns with how you either see yourself or want to see yourself. If your goal is to lose weight, it will be essential to identify what that will look like for yourself daily, and doing so clearly and practically. For example, drastically and suddenly changing your daily routine will likely result in your body releasing the stress hormone cortisol, and ultimately work against you. However, easing into change will help you sustain these behaviors over a longer period of time. Contextualizing your goals will also be important. Identifying why a goal is important for your self image will help you find your motivation. Say for example, you view yourself as a strong person. It may be more important to you in that instance to build strength than lose weight, so changing your goal to match what is important to your self image can shift your entire outlook.


Be sure to check out our next blog, 7 Barriers to Change in the coming weeks. If you found this information helpful, we strongly encourage you to check out our workshop courses to unpack these topics further. They can be found here.


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