Contributed by Emily Glidden

In the personal growth community, we are consistently moving towards our goals with gusto. We create vision boards, go on visioning journeys, write visions of our ideal day, ideal client, ideal relationship…and so on. We do the inner work to identify our resistances and release them. We meditate, hire coaches, read books, confer with our friends, attend retreats, create ceremonies and share inspiring facebook memes. We work hard to be better, happier people who love generously and make a difference in the world.

And yet I’ve come to wonder about the quality of the focus of the visioning and goal-setting part of this work.

I believe the power of creating purposeful change begins with the questions we ask ourselves.

What do you want to have? This feels like the most common question we ask ourselves. What do you want to physically, materially possess or have access to? Is it more money, a new home, better health, a new relationship, a greater sense of purpose and meaning?

What do you want to do? This is where the rubber meets the road. Do you want to serve more people, exercise five times a week, increase your income, spend money more wisely, start a new hobby, develop a new skill, make new friends, eat less ice cream?

Who do you want to become? This is where the deepest truths emerge. Do you want to become an inspiring leader? A compassionate communicator? Consistently tapped into your inner wisdom? What virtues will you need to develop and strengthen to become the person you know you were meant to be?

Every time I ask myself the question of who I want to be, my answers to what I want to do and have shift and deepen. I want to be physically fit and exercise regularly because I want to feel energetic and strong. I want to be more influential in people’s lives and that means I need to: care for my mental, physical and spiritual well-being through daily meditation, working with my coach, eating quality foods, exercising consistently, and resting when I feel tired; develop new skills in my field for body work and somatic-based coaching; nurture my creativity through play, rest, and relaxation; and create programs for clients that align with my heart’s desire in service. I also want to become a more vocal and compassionate advocate for horses and people to enjoy relationships without the fear of physical or emotional trauma. To become the advocate I want to be, I need to improve my communication skills and that takes courage, kindness, insight, intuition, and self-compassion.

What I like about asking myself who I want to be is that it challenges me to get really clear about what matters most to me. It also puts the ball firmly in my court. I can’t control whether I earn more money this year than last, but I certainly can control whether or not I become a better communicator. The question of who I want to become also inspires me to listen to my better angels, to consider the virtues I want to possess and the impact I want to have on my friends, family, colleagues and clients.

What about you? Do you find the question of who you want to become helpful in creating focus and motivation for your personal growth? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

I’ll leave you with this quote from the wise and beautiful Maya Angelou, “Without courage we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.”

To courage!