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Finding Your Path To Success: Start By Defining Your Goals As coaches, we have the daily privilege of not only meeting people from a huge array of backgrounds, ages, ethnicities and even walks of life, but we also have a unique opportunity of really understanding what makes this great variety of human beings tick.

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As coaches, we have the daily privilege of not only meeting people from a huge array of backgrounds, ages, ethnicities and even walks of life, but we also have a unique opportunity of really understanding what makes this great variety of human beings tick. And, here's the thing: it never ceases to amaze us, but ironically, although we are so different in so many ways, when it comes to what matters –what truly breaks us or makes us- we are all actually very, very similar. When asked fundamental questions such as "What do you really want?" or "What is your passion?" then –you might have already guessed the answer as you read this- the reply tends to be: "I don't (really) know." If we had received a dirham for every time we heard a client respond in this way, well, we would definitely have been millionaires by now!

It must be noted, however, that this answer, in itself, is actually an important one. Let us explain: there are different scenarios where the "I don't know" response becomes our clients' favorite default answer. One of these would be when they genuinely think (and sometimes believe) that they have "no idea," when, in reality, the only reason they feel this way is because they simply, never truly asked themselves this question. Another possible scenario is when they, in fact, do not really "want to know," because answering this question feels like it could be too much to handle, and eventually, could even change the course of their lives as they know it. And although the one constant guarantee in life is change, it can still feel pretty scary, right?

We know that as humans, we have a natural tendency to keep things as they are, holding it steady, smooth sailing and watching out for the waves! Sometimes, we allow obstacles to become so big in our minds, that the sheer size of them inhibits us from moving forward and, ultimately keeps us, consciously or unconsciously, in our very (un)comfortable "I don't know" zone. Choosing to stay there is not a "bad thing" per se, however, we can guarantee you that it will ultimately makes it impossible to challenge, let alone change, your existing circumstances. And while we acknowledge that getting out of ones' comfort zones is far from an easy exercise, it is most certainly essential to, at certain stages in our lives, press the pause button and actually ask the question: "What is it that I really want out of my life?" -honestly and openly challenge ourselves, and breathe in the courage to take action, as opposed to settling for an unfulfilled life.

Here are some of our tips that can help you push through your mental barriers and get out of the "IDK" zone:


Because "seeing is believing," the first and most essential step in making it happen is by visualizing it! Visualization is a powerful tool and you can use it by picturing your perfect scenario, your dream, your goal or however you want to define it. Closing your eyes and accessing your imagination to actually "see" what you would like your life to be and who you would like to become is a key step toward understanding and identifying what you truly want. By picturing what you would like to achieve, you remove the potential constraints that generally bind you to your reality, and you often discover new pathways and limitless possibilities you were not even aware of.

Gain awareness of self–limiting beliefs

You might come across multiple reasons that hold you back from pursuing the perfect scenario: "I can't really make a living out of that," "I'm not smart enough," or "It's too late, I'm too old." Write a list of these "obstacles," look at each one and find an example that will clarify whether that barrier is "real" or a "fear." This will help you create awareness around your genuine roadblocks and work towards overcoming them, so that they do not hold you back anymore. These thoughts won't have any power over you unless you give them a meaning.

Ask yourself the right questions

So now that you have your list and you have clarified what's truly holding you back, focus on what is at the finish line and ask yourself the right questions: "How can I overcome these obstacles?" "What do I need to do to get there?" "What will happen if I get there?" "How will it make me feel?" "How will this change my life?" The important part of this step is that you are making your vision solid, positive and quite simply…. doable! You are now on the path of how to get there instead of on analysis paralysis mode. Focus on how to get there, instead of finding 1000 reasons not to!

Explore and get curious

Looking into what seems to be "impossible" and actually giving it a real chance will enable you to take a closer look at alternatives and ways to actually make your own personal and unique goals happen. If you have never really looked at how to achieve them, how can you be so sure they are unattainable? Cultivating the art of curiosity will expand your horizon, free you from obstacles and help you tap into your resourcefulness and creativity. Be open up to new ideas: brainstorm with friends or mentors, listen closely to what is being said, read, research and always keep an open mind. Something that was true yesterday might not be so today! Allow yourself to be challenged by others and see things from a different perspective. Ask yourself open questions: by asking what, how, when and where, you get a deeper understanding as the answers you seek will only appear if you are committed to finding them.

Creating and anchoring a vision, becoming conscious of your self-limiting beliefs and answering the right questions is a powerful place to be in, and from there, you can now explore ways and possibilities to get what you want. Although some obstacles are real, they are not insurmountable! Remember, most successful people didn't just stumble on their path- they just worked hard on creating one.

Salma El-Shurafa & Veronique Ademar

Founder and Partner, The Pathway Project

Salma El-Shurafa (Founder) and Veronique Ademar, drawing on over 20 years of combined experience, are Executive Coaches and Partners at The Pathway Project (TPP). TPP provides tailored executive leadership and career development coaching to professionals who are navigating the dynamics of the global UAE market. They have worked with a wide variety of individuals in the Middle East, Asia and Europe, ranging from directors and managers at Fortune 500 companies as well as entrepreneurs, across industries, and other professionals.


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