Prison State vs. Dream State

written by David Stogsdill

Generally, clients have come to me in the past they are either interested in moving towards something they want or away from something they don’t want. That’s what goal setting is all about. The key to establishing goals that motivate and inspire you is to get SPECIFIC.

All too often goal-setting can be turned into generalized, and somewhat arbitrary, metrics like, “I want to lose 25 pounds” or “I want to see my abs,” but if we dig deeper and identify the WHY behind those wants and needs, we can find a source of motivation underneath. Most people don’t want to lose 25 pounds because they’d rather weigh 150 instead of 175, but rather the pain points that being 25 pounds overweight brings with it. Going deeper the goal is often less about the number of pounds, and more about the feeling of confidence going to their friend’s pool party, or being able to keep up with their grandkids on a hike. Whether you want to build strength so you can stay on the slopes ALL DAY for your upcoming ski trip, lose some weight to feel more confident taking your shirt off in public, or even just getting out of bed without back pain, specific goal setting is key.

I’ve found that if we use specific language when discussing our goals, it can reframe our understanding of what is getting in our way. Let’s refer to the things you want to change as your “prison state,” which isn’t to say your life is terrible, it just means there is somewhere else you’d rather be, something you’d rather have, be able to do, or some way you’d rather FEEL, than you do right now.

That place you want to be is what we’ll refer to as your “dream state.” You know, “Living the dream!” In an effort to move closer to our dream state, here are 7 questions to ask yourself, and check in with often:

  1. What “prison state,” if changed, would have the largest positive effect in other parts of your life?
  2. Why is your prison state so difficult to change?
  3. What consistently leads you to end up in this position?
  4. What immediate action can I take to make #3 untrue?
  5. Why hasn’t #4 happened yet?
  6. What would I need to make #5 untrue?
  7. How can I start doing this by tomorrow?

Working towards what you want or don’t want can be frustrating and often slower than we’d like. It can also leave you feeling uncertain of if you’ll ever reach the finish line. Using these 7 questions can often help give some clarity around the most important steps to start taking action to get where you want to go. What’s stopping you from Living your Dream?