I once went to see a specialist doctor – this person had been recommended to me and was given rave review, so I had high hopes. But after our first meeting, I started to wonder. He hadn’t read the results of my previous tests and bloodwork with care. He didn’t have answers to my questions about underlying causality. Instead, he shared with me his protocol for treating all patients: since I had already done numbers 1 and 2 on the list before seeing him, so now I could try number 3.
It wasn’t a bad protocol- it was actually very good compared to what other doctors had offered. And by all accounts, it was generally effective for many of the patients who went to see him.
But what struck me was that it really wasn’t personal.
There were things I wanted him to address that he couldn’t, or didn’t, because they didn’t fit the protocol. I wanted him to treat me as an individual, with a unique set of circumstances, rather than just another person with the same diagnosis as all his other patients. But instead he just put me into the process where he thought I fit best. It was really disappointing.
I’ve noticed the same thing can happen in consulting situations. Over and over, I see consultants or coaches who advertise a proven “eight-step program”, which if you follow to the letter, will help you “achieve your goals”! It’s as though they’ve found the secret formula to life. One book I read said something like, “This is not difficult. You just make a goal, break it into manageable pieces, and then do each piece.”
I had to laugh. If it were that simple, everyone would do it! But the truth is, everyone is different.
Some people aren’t actually sure about what their goals are. Some struggle to break it down – their pieces always feel overwhelming and they can’t see a way to make it more do-able. And many people struggle to be motivated enough to do each thing!
Each of us is unique, and while there are general processes that can help, most of us need to adapt generalities to our own specific situation. It’s all about knowing yourself, which isn’t always easy.
What’s more, sometimes life has more layers than a “set goal; achieve goal,” narrative allows for.
What if it’s just not the right time for that particular goal? What if other priorities in life make themselves known? If you’ve ever cried your way through DisneyPixar’s UP, you can recognize that sometimes life has a way of shifting our goals for us.
None of us wants to just be put on the conveyor belt of a “process”, no matter how successful it’s been for others. We each have a unique life history, personality, and set of circumstances that need to be taken into account if we’re going to discern our goals well and create good paths to get there.
Want to talk about your personal life path? Get in touch!