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Julia Matheson

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danger: external goals

If you follow me on social (insta/facebook) you’ll know that I’ve been feeling ALL the feels right now. You will also know that I am, and always have been a big sharer! (sorry not sorry). This stems from my core belief that vulnerability is a strength, and that we have so much to learn and gain from each other’s experience. So this is what’s fuelled today’s blog post  (. . and probably every one I’ve ever written!)

The truth is, I’ve been going through a break up. (It’s sounds ridiculous even writing that, when the world is experiencing things like famine, global warming, war and oppression. But it’s my current experience and so I will honour it.) It’s the first one I’ve experienced in a while, and I almost forgot how hard they are. How gut wrenching and painful the experience is, and how much deep stuff they seem to dredge up from within the darkest corners of the heart and mind. Things I thought I had “dealt with”, worked on and moved through are now sneakily rearing their ugly heads again. My mind is running rampant with thoughts like – Ugh! What? No! How did you get back here?

Sometimes personal development can be SO friggin exhausting! Because just as you work through one layer, another one is revealed. It’s a never ending process, and I guess it’s really more of a lifestyle choice than something to ‘get done’, or an outcome to be achieved. You never get to hang up the towel. Because when you’re in this work, it never ends, the layers just keep on coming.

One of my old coaches referred to these layers as A.F.G.O’s (Another. Fucking. Growth. Opportunity!) and I just love that! Because that’s exactly how it feels in the moment. I know that deep down – yes it’s a good thing these insights have come up, and that the sooner I work through them, the sooner I can liberate myself. But at the same time part of me just wants to sigh, and fall into a heap on the couch at the thought of doing yet MORE work on myself.

You feel me?

It takes resilience, dedication and a whole lot of self love and self compassion to walk this path. Yet I know I wouldn’t have it any other way. It may not feel great in the moment, it may be uncomfortable, but the after effects are what make it all worthwhile. I guess it’s like taking your vitamins, or working out, or cleaning your house – most people don’t jump out of bed at the thought of these things (unless you’re one of those rare breeds), yet you do it because of how damn great it makes you feel AFTERWARDS. It’s delayed gratification. Psychology tells us this is a good thing, and I sure know it feels good.

I had the realisation yesterday that I’ve been placing my power outside of myself. Letting external goals determine my self worth, my happiness, and my “success” in life. Without realising, I’ve let the end of my relationship mean I’m worthless. Ouch it even hurts to write that. Here’s a preview of my mind right now: “I’m not loveable, I’m not enough, I’ll never have the vision I see, the guy for me doesn’t even exist, I don’t deserve all I dream of, I’ll never have a family, I’m asking too much from a partner, it’s just not going to happen for me . . .” blah blah blah. SO many stories. SO many limiting beliefs. To be honest, so much utter crap.

How did this happen??

I’ve always been so aware, so focused on the intrinsic goal-setting, authentic real things; the feelings, the desired states. Yet somehow, right under my nose, my focus slipped. But like I say to my clients, it’s not about aiming for perfection (it doesn’t exist anyway), it’s about how quickly we can gain that awareness that we’ve slipped, getting that insight into ourselves in the current circumstances, and then make the conscious choice to move forward on a different path. Without judgement (that’s very important).

External goals can be anything and everything! And they are how most people goal set. Anything that is outside of you is an external goal, placing your internal happiness on something material, extrinsic or conditional ie/ buying the house, getting a pay-rise, losing weight, landing your dream job, proposing to the love of your life, buying a new car,  going on holidays, having the relationship you want, the wardrobe you want, the hair you want, the LIFE you want. These are ALL external goals.

And the risk you run when you aim for external goals, is that when they don’t happen, you inevitably wind up feeling like a failure, lacking self worth, and feeling down in the dumps. At best, even if you DO achieve them, you may often be left feeling empty inside. You flat line, as the massive fulfilment you thought would come is never comparable to the feeling you get from those intrinsic, authentic goals. Goals set from your soul are the truest and most inspiring goals you can ever aim for.

So I’m now choosing to shift my focus to intrinsic goals.

I’m turning my gaze inwards, and bringing the spot light back over my head instead of placing it over another person. I’m taking ownership of ALL the feels right now, the sadness, the frustration, the disappointment. And I’m taking personal responsibility of the situation I’ve found myself in, and allowing myself to make a conscious choice as to how I move through this.

Self compassion and patience are right by my side, and I have to remember to use them (how quickly I forget. .). Some days its yoga, green smoothies, meditation and leaning on my friends for support, others it’s pyjamas, binging on TV, bad food choices and pushing people away – and that’s OK. In fact that’s perfect. Because removing the judgement on our emotions is half the battle. Learning to sit with them, welcome them in with a smile, and allow them to just BE – ironically is exactly what helps us move through them quicker.

So where in your life are using external goal posts to define your success?

How can you shift your focus to something intrinsic, a goal that comes from within and can’t be controlled by anyone or anything else?

Make YOU the priority, not anything outside of you.

Instead of seeking contentment by trying to change the external world, rather we should think about how to change ourselves.


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“Julia has a true gift.  Her coaching was really great. It helped me to re-focus. I’ve managed to shift into a better flow for my life. I have created a balance between “work” and life. I have experienced the benefit of her coaching first hand and recommend it to anyone that needs guidance and help in this way.”

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