How Do We Achieve Alignment?
In order to take advantage of the principle of alignment, we need to know all about ourselves. We need to look at our values, beliefs, dreams, habits, purpose, and other goals and make sure that they all work together harmoniously. We set our new goals based on this information, in alignment with who we are.
Next, we figure out how to use our unique combination of strengths to accomplish the goals we have set. This continues and increases the alignment and momentum. We use our strengths because that is what we already know we are good at. Martin Seligman, the father of Positive Psychology, calls living our life within our strengths an “engaged life,” and research shows that it makes us feel more fulfilled and happy.
Letting Go Of Attachments
Based on this new knowledge, there is likely to be a transition period while we reassess our former goals. We may ask ourselves, “What happens if I have a goal that I really want, but it isn’t aligned with who I want to be?” We have three options. One, we can continue to force the goal into submission with our will power. Two, we can find (or change) a belief, value, or strength so that we can bring the goal into alignment with ourselves. Or three, we can let go of the goal that isn’t aligned with who we are.
Sometimes, in order to gain alignment, we need to let go of some attachments. If goals we have had in the past simply aren’t part of who we are becoming, it might just be time to let go of them. The issue is not that certain goals are “bad”, the question is, “Is this goal in alignment with who I am becoming?”
It can be freeing to let go of attachments or old goals and find goals that are more in alignment with who we are. It is very powerful to admit what we really want to do, be and have. If we are truly open and honest with ourselves, we can let go of goals that aren’t serving us and really focus on becoming more of who we really want to be.
Allow me to share an example of letting go of attachments. Since I was a young man, I have held a fascination for fast Italian sports cars. I have always wanted one. Once I got clear around my purpose and who I am, I decided I didn’t need a fast Italian sports car to help me get there. Do I still want one? Sure! But I know it isn’t aligned with who I need to be, so I have been able let go of that attachment.
We can help our clients realize who they are by exploring their values, beliefs, strengths, purpose, etc. Through this journey of self-discovery, they will be able to gain a clear vision and a self-awareness regarding who they are at their core. Once they realize and truly embrace who they are, they can take a look at their goals and see if they are aligned with their core self.
There is one caveat. We can’t forget the fact that our clients are all unique individuals. They all have strengths and weaknesses. Willpower is not one of my strengths, so I don’t force things. I don’t see the world as something that needs to be bent to my will. I would rather work in harmony with it, which is why I developed this power tool. But for someone that has willpower as one of their strengths, perhaps forcing is the way for them to approach the world. Why NOT use their strength if they have it? As coaches, we need to be sensitive to this.
Sample questions to help the client understand alignment:
- Do you want this goal because of what other people think?
- Does this goal make you more of who you see yourself becoming?
- How would you describe your efforts to achieve your goal? (Aligned or forced?)
- How are your efforts/goals aligned with your lifestyle? Your strengths? Your values?
- Are any of your current goals distracting you from your true purpose?
- How can you align that goal with your purpose? Is it time to let it go?
- What do you need to let go of to achieve alignment?
- How can you use your unique combination of strengths to accomplish this goal?