Confidence and Success with CBT/REBT – Blog #2


Blog #2: Identifying what you want.

Welcome to the second blog in our series on Confidence and Success using Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy (REBT). Here we’ll be looking at how identifying your goal is the first step in achieving success.

The REBT approach emphasises the individuals’ ability to create, alter and control emotional states. It teaches you how to recognise unhealthy thinking and develop new beliefs and attitudes which lead to confidence, success and a fuller life experience.

Albert Ellis, the founder of REBT, believed that as we have little choice about being human, it’s preferable not to put yourself or others down and to remember you have choices and alternatives in how you live and pursue your goals. We can develop healthy beliefs to aid us in the pursuit of our goals, we can experiment, and we can experience, we can learn and change what doesn’t work.

The key steps in achieving goals are:

  • Identify what you want
  • Fact find
  • Set SMART goals
  • Make a plan
  • Take action
  • Stay focused
  • Review and decide

The first step towards your ultimate goal is identifying what you want. Remember success is achieving your goals. If you already know what you want then you can move to Step 2 (we’ll be covering this in a forthcoming blog), otherwise, step 1 is all about reflecting and exploring what you want to achieve and work towards. And don’t forget, each step in the journey is a goal in itself!

What do I really want?

You may have never asked yourself the question “What do I want?”, and you may find yourself thinking “I don’t know, I’ve never really thought about it!”

We are naturally goal seeking and thinking about what we want can bring benefits, such as:

  • A sense of control and determination over your life as you consider new possibilities.
  • Your mind will be occupied with thinking “What do I want achieve?” This invokes natural problem-solving abilities.
  • A sense of anticipation and excitement as you think about what you want and the changes you can make.

The problem for many of us is not knowing what we really want. This question can only be answered through self- reflection. It is not important that we answer our questions perfectly, but it is important to attempt to answer them. To help decide what is of value to you, look at the list below. It is only a guide, you may wish to add or remove something, for example, replace career with retirement or add sporting achievement or travel.

  • Family
  • Career
  • Personal
  • Education
  • Physical health
  • Social
  • Mental health
  • Leisure/fun

Start by choosing one or more areas in your life that you might like to focus on and begin reflecting and writing down what it is you’d like to achieve. There are no right or wrong choices, much will depend on where you are in your life right now. This stage is very much about exploring in a general way. As you move to the later steps, you can make what you want more focused and specific.

As you consider the different areas in your life, it’s helpful to ask yourself some questions to help your thinking processes. Here are some general questions that might get you thinking.

  • What do you enjoy?
  • What do you dislike?
  • What are your strengths / weaknesses?
  • Which of the possibilities for change are the most mouth-watering?

Sometimes it can also be helpful to consider the things you definitely know you DON’T want in your life before you consider what you do.

As you begin to decide what area of your life you wish to focus on, you can begin to make your questions more and more specific to that area. For example, if you want to focus on your career, you might ask yourself some of the following questions.

  • Am I happy with my current career?
  • What career would I like to pursue?
  • Is further training helpful?
  • What do I really like doing?

This is not a time to think about what is possible or not, this step is about employing your creative imagination in guiding you to your goal, as the initial step. You are just thinking, you are not taking action at the moment.
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Taking action by writing questions, answers and ideas down demonstrates a commitment to your desire for change. For the moment, do not spend time thinking about “How” this is going to happen. This is the time for “What” questions. You will begin to know when you are on the right track when you begin to get that sense of anticipation about a particular idea.

Once you have identified what it is you want and desire in your life then you can begin to make it happen by gathering information and fact finding. When you begin to take action, you begin to experience success which leads to increased feelings of confidence which in turn leads to more success.

All this might sound straightforward, but in our next blog, we’ll be looking at some of the obstacles to choosing a new goal that you might find in your way.

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