Editor's Note: Joe Weston also authors an advice column, "Ask Joe," where he shares his training, wisdom, and experience with RealJock readers. Got a question? Need some clarity? Ask Joe anything that's on your mind by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Your identity will be kept anonymous, but do note that questions may be edited for length and clarity.
It’s another new year. Time to reflect on the successes and failures of the past year, and time to set some new goals for actualizing the fulfilling life you desire. As usual, many of us start the year with good intentions and a strong resolve to make this the year that we actually follow through with our resolutions.
But, as we continue to be bombarded with the daily grind of life, we slowly watch these good intentions become distant memories and a deep aching for change that seems so far away. Over the years, I have helped clients make progress to follow through with their goals and intentions by coaching them in applying the Four Pillars of True Power, which I have developed as a part of my larger training, Respectful Confrontation. I am not saying that my method is the only way to succeed, but I have seen great results in those who have used it.
Finding Your True Power
There is a direct connection with personal power and how we view ourselves in the world, our level of comfort in engaging with others, our self-confidence, and how much we are able to fulfill our life purpose and live out our true potential. An old-fashioned view of power doesn’t go any further than using brute force to obtain goals. We can see clearly that most of our history has been shaped by a belief that power is limited and something outside of ourselves. This old-fashioned view of power is not what I would call true power but rather a strategy to use brute force to impose one’s will and ensure one’s success at the expense of others.
Many of us approach our goals and intentions in the same way. We set our sights too high on what we want to achieve. Instead of aiming for something that is realistic and attainable, we create a fantasy of what we want, and quickly get disappointed when we don’t see this fantasy manifesting in reality. This leads to giving up. Also, we tend to rely on brute force to attain our goals, pushing harder and harder until we run out of steam and exhaust all the energy we need to persevere and sustain ourselves for the long journey. Again, this leads to frustration and burning out.
So, I realized that there had to be another way to redefine real power and what it takes to create a fulfilling life. If true power is not just brute force, what is it? I looked to martial arts to find my answer. I thought about the different ways my teachers trained me to develop my technique and improve my form. I thought about the masters, who, in their ‘80s, could still defeat opponents half their age or younger. How do they do it?
The Four Pillars of True Power
I concluded that along with strength, grounding, focus and flexibility must also be present to truly be in your power. While they are developed separately, they also support and enhance each other. As you can see, strength is one of the four aspects of true power, but it is not necessarily the most important. When you are secure in your grounding, focus, strength, and flexibility, then you will walk through life with the confidence needed to achieve anything you put your mind to.
In future articles, I will delve deeply into each of the Four Pillars of True Power, and explain how, when mastered, each has an innate, unique power that you can tap into. I will offer ways to improve and integrate these principles into your life. In this article, I will show you how this method can be applied to making clear resolutions for the new year and utilized to follow through until you actually succeed. This is just a formula, and like all formulas, the success depends on how mindful you are in using it, and your ability to stick with it.
Pillar I: Grounding
The best way to set your goals is to first connect them with your core values and personal philosophy. If it isn’t clear why and for whom you are doing this, you will not succeed. For instance, someone may decide that they want to lose weight and become fit and slim in 2011. If your motivation for doing this has to do with what other people think, or if you are doing this because you “should,” then you are destined to fail.
Take a look at following list of values. Study them for a while; feel them. See which ones stand out and uplift you. Which ones do you truly value? Which ones are you willing to fight for? Accountability, Accuracy, Beauty, Calm, Challenge, Collaboration, Community, Competition, Creativity, Delight of being/joy, Discipline, Efficiency, Equality, Faith, Family, Freedom, Friendship, Fun, Health/fitness, Hard work, Innovation, Justice, Knowledge, Leadership, Love/romance, Loyalty, Money, Peace/non-violence, Power, Prosperity/wealth, Service, Simplicity, Skill, Status, Tradition, Truth, Wisdom
Choose five to 10 of your top values. You may want to add others that are not on this list. These are the values that bring meaning and purpose to your life. These values hold a powerful energy within them. Now, take a look and see if you can connect your resolution with one or more of these values. For instance, if you want a boyfriend, you may notice that Love/romance, Community, and Creativity are important to you. Connect your desire for a boyfriend with these values and you will have a clearer picture of what kind of guy you want and where you may actually find him. This will help you strategize and make a plan of action to make your intention come true. Plus, when you start wavering, doubting and losing steam as the year goes on, you can tap into your values to revitalize you and remind you of why you want a boyfriend. It is no longer simply a fantasy; having a boyfriend is now connected to the big picture of how you are going to find fulfillment in your life.
Pillar II: Focus
Now that you have a clear intention and have given it a strong foundation in your core, it is time to set your goals. Once you have a clear picture of what the end looks like, it is up to you to stay on track. Oftentimes we have a vague idea of what we want, so we are easily distracted and end up off course and giving up. It is essential to have a clear goal so you can focus your energies and see the progress you are making. You may not achieve your goal right away, but when you see that you are taking small steps forward, you will tend to stay motivated.
It is also important to set realistic goals. To say that you are 225 pounds and want to look like Ryan Reynolds in six months, or that you are single and want an engagement ring by December, is just fantasy. If it happens, great. But often these types of goals are direct roads to failure. Take it step by step. Imagine if you had to cross a river that was about 50 feet. You either attempt to jump across, leading to getting wet or drowning, or you simply give up and don’t even try. It is fine to want to get across the river, but if you stop and see what is in front of you, you will notice that there is a stone about four feet in the river. Start with stepping on that stone. Then, when you get there, you will notice that there is another stone ahead. Jump to that one, and before you know it, you will look up and see that you are on the other side!
Do the same with your intentions. Start with the goal of losing 10 pounds. Make that your only priority. Connect it with your personal values, and before you know it, you will succeed. Then set the next goal for yourself, like losing another 10 pounds and developing core strength. Imagine how good you’ll feel when you stay focused on these small goals and achieve them!
Pillar III: Strength
Strength has to do with physical power, which is of course necessary for success. However, in this context you utilize strength when you can muster up the courage to declare your self-worth, assert your needs, ask for help and even see yourself in a truthful way. When you set goals that will lead you to a happier, healthier, fulfilling life, all the patterns that sabotage you tend to come out in full force.
You must use your power of strength to overcome these patterns in order to succeed. The first step is to say to yourself that you are worthy of being happy and having what you desire. If this is a problem for you, get help. See a therapist, talk to friends and dare to ask them for help. Let them know what you need from them to support you in this process. Ask them to keep reminding you that you are a valuable person, worthy of succeeding. If you want to lose weight, join a program or get a personal trainer. If you want a boyfriend, ask your friends to go to parties with you or join clubs where you will meet guys who share similar values. You are using your strength power when you realize you can’t do it alone and you have the courage to seek help.
Pillar IV: Flexibility
Now that you have connected your intentions to your core values, you now have clear, realistic goals, and you have a strong support system, you are ready to make it happen. Once you start your practice of moving closer to your goal, you will encounter new circumstances, setbacks, allies, challenges, new insights, and possibilities. In other words, you will experience the things that life has to offer you.
The power of flexibility is the key. Your success is determined by how well you can “dance” with the things you encounter every day. Many practices fail because of a need to keep a rigid schedule or regiment. This usually leads to frustration and giving up. For instance, you may work out in the mornings before work for 60 minutes. But because of a busy work schedule, or because the gym may be doing renovations and you can’t train in the morning, you get angry and decide not to train that week. One week not training leads to another week not training, and so on. Or you may meet a guy who doesn’t live in the center of the city, so you say you won’t date him because you have a strict rule that you will only date guys who live close by.
If you want to succeed with your goals, you must address all possibilities and see if you can adapt and find creative ways to make them work. Some possibilities may not be right for you, but you won’t know that unless you take the time to engage with it first. If you can’t train in the morning for a few weeks, shift your schedule and train later in the day, or split up your schedule —30 minutes in the morning, 30 minutes in the evening. With my meditation practice, I would not have succeeded if I convinced myself that I had to sit for two hours every morning when I woke up. I know what works for me. If I can’t do it in the morning, or if I am too tired to get up, I will find some time in the day to do it.
You have mastered the power of flexibility when you can keep it light, stay curious, and remain open to what is going on around you. As long as you stay focused on the end result and know that you are not straying, then feel free to adjust and adapt. You will actually see that the more flexible you are, the quicker you will get to where you want to go!
This is a general overview of what you can do to ensure more success in realizing your goals and following through with your intentions. This is a formula that has proven to be of value to others. The only way to make a formula work is if you actually apply it, practice the principles, and stay on track. It requires clear commitment and a dedication to practice. And remember, every small step forward is a major triumph and part of your life’s unfolding. Success to you!
About Joe Weston: Joe Weston is an international workshop facilitator and personal life coach. Born and educated in New York, Joe lived in Amsterdam for 17 years and now lives in California. He is committed to helping others embody spirituality and supporting them on their journey towards personal fulfillment and empowerment. Joe brings a wealth of insight to his work based on many teachings, including Tai Chi Chuan and a variety of spiritual traditions—plus his experience in theater and various organizational trainings. He is currently writing a book entitled “Mastering Respectful Confrontation: a Guide to Personal Freedom and Empowered, Collaborative Engagement.” He also volunteers for the Liberation Prison Project, teaching Buddhism to inmates. To find out more about his workshops and his personal coaching, visit www.joeweston.com.
Joe leads lectures and workshops in Respectful Confrontation around the world. His schedule includes Oakland and Washington DC in February, Austin, TX in March, and Milan, Italy in April. For more info, click here.