Lofty Goals?

Here’s how to aim high in 2019. We show you how to use your “Desire Map”, which can put your plans into action and help you achieve your dreams

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Here’s how to aim high in 2019. We show you how to use your “Desire Map”, which can put your plans into action and help you achieve your dreams

Why are we often unable to achieve goals that are important to us? We start out enthusiastically, and manage to keep going for a while – but then we give up.

“We need to choose our goals well,” says psychologist Heiko Ernst. “Goals which are of importance to us, which align with our values, and which are chosen without any external pressure, have a positive effect on our well-being. These are goals associated with personal growth, interpersonal relationships, and contributions to society. They fill us with joie de vivre.”

Danielle LaPorte, author of bestselling book The Desire Map agrees. One New Year’s Eve, Danielle was making a list of all the things she wanted to do the following year, and she noticed one key element that was missing: Heart. Why did she want to be successful in her job? Why did she want to lose weight and take a holiday overseas? It was a magical moment, because then Danielle started asking herself new questions. How did she want to feel – in her job, in her body, in her relationship? And what could she do to achieve this? These simple questions changed everything.

What Is “The Desire Map”?

Danielle’s book asks the following: Do you feel like embarking on a journey to explore your innermost desires? Then what are you waiting for? Look at yourself, what you dream of, what you’re dying to do. And most importantly, examine what inspires you, what road your heart wants to take, and how you feel about yourself – the checklist below will help with this.

Knowing how we want to feel gives us clarity and opens the door to a fulfilled, creative life. We need a real vision in order to achieve our goals – in every part of our life plan. The only prerequisite is that we must turn our brain into our most important ally.

“The brain is a great energy saver and it wants to have incentives,” says Heiko. “So it’s a good idea to tap into one’s desires and, based on these, think up rewards for the effort, and then consciously enjoy them.”

If we are able to charge our goal with strong emotions aligned with our personality, we will notice a force awaken within us; we envisage the goal and march towards it. Psychologists call this force inner motivation, which can be intense and extremely powerful.

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"When we begin to fulfi l our desires – they take on a life of their own."

Finding Our Triggers

How do people who live their dreams differ from those who fail? Were the latter’s feelings perhaps not strong enough? That is one possible explanation. Our psychologists say selfefficacy is key – how confident we are in our strength and abilities, and being able to cope with overcoming challenges. If we’re convinced we have control over ourselves and our life, we react with less fear, lose hope less frequently, and demonstrate greater perseverance.

But it’s primarily about finding our own triggers which help us believe in ourselves and learn how to positively influence our feelings. What we need is an optimistic outlook, coupled with the attitude that nothing is impossible.

Start Sending A Signal

A ship sounds its horn when casting off in a port. The 100-m sprint starts with a gun being fired. We celebrate the New Year with fireworks. These are all signs and signals. Why not give it a try yourself sometime? Find a symbol, an anchor, a clear signal that shows both you and others: “I’m setting off”.

The brain needs things spelt out clearly. A goal that is approached with absolute certainty and the message “STARTING NOW” influences the entire autonomic nervous system and all biochemical processes. We now know from medical research that patients recover fastest when they make the conscious decision: “I’m going to get healthy now!”

This phrase is one of the most powerful thoughts a person can have – triggering self-healing, programming the subconscious and releasing messengers. But studies also show we need to start tackling our goal within 48 hours of making our decision, otherwise our good intentions peter out.

Something amazing happens when we begin to fulfil our desires – they take on a life of their own. As soon as we allow our desires to emerge from the depths of our heart, we are confronted with many intense images and feelings – yearnings, wishes, demands. Engage with them – they are what will lead us to our true selves. If you want to be happy, then heed your feelings, and make sure you look after yourself. Positively charge every one of your goals.

“Small Steps” Strategy

Charged with the right positive emotions, desires can unleash a great energy within us, making them a driving force for us to achieve our goals.

Nothing inspires us more than the feeling of having a good future ahead of us. But we also need staying power – which is much more difficult. Studies have shown we need at least two months of practice before being able to make even a relatively small change. It becomes easier if we accept that many small steps, including the odd step backwards, are better than not trying at all – or wanting too much at once. American psychologists talk about mini habits which, although small, can take us far.


Comfort and habit are the two areas where most people fail. As soon as we leave our comfort zone, these two elements start piping up. We can remove these stumbling blocks by constantly telling ourselves how we want to feel at the end of our journey: Ecstatic, free, happy, secure… Be aware that some things inevitably won’t work – especially when we’re daring to try something new. That doesn’t mean we can’t do or achieve something; it just means we still have some learning to do, and are in the process of improving ourselves.


Find somewhere quiet, where you won’t be disturbed for at least 10 minutes. Close your eyes, and inhale and exhale deeply. Now focus on your heart: Think of your goal. Feel a sense of unbounded joy flowing through you. And now notice what your heart is doing. How it’s beating – every pulse takes you closer to your goal. You know you’ll get there soon. Enjoy this wonderful feeling. Immerse yourself in it; bathe in it. Spend as long as you like in this state of mind, then open your eyes and return to the here and now.


We constantly think in images, but most of the time our head plays a film of varying disasters, which we imagine in detail. This time, we’re using the power of our internal images to envisage our goal and the positive emotions we associate with it. The more colourful, the better – you setting off fireworks and celebrating – as soon as you visualise yourself achieving your goal, it flows directly into your subconscious, which cannot tell the difference between reality and vivid imagination. The ideal time to start is just after you wake up and before you go to sleep – that’s when it absorbs information best. Imagine a cinema. You’re on the screen, your dream has come true. Take a look at yourself. What do you radiate – enthusiasm, happiness, contentment, love? Remember: You are the director of the film of your life.

Check In

Pause sometimes to ask yourself these important questions: Does my path still feel meaningful? Have I strayed from my path? What’s stopping me? What do I hold on to? What can I do now to get closer to my desired outcome? Take enough time out in the oasis to answer these questions.

Overcoming The Last Hurdle

There are normal emotions, and, according to psychoanalyst Carl Jung, the callings of our soul. These callings will never fall silent. Ignoring them causes us suffering, so we used to listen to them attentively. And by accepting and acknowledging them, we make them our most important guides. Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho says, “If you believe yourself worthy of the thing you fought so hard to get, then you become an instrument of God, you help the Soul of the World, and you understand why you are here.”

Fuelling The Fire

Self-efficacy is the magic tool for achieving your goals. It represents everything that’s important to us: How we would want to feel if we had the choice and what goes on inside us when we achieve something we want. Self-efficacy is our fuel – the energy source of our inner strength. It gives us the awareness that, with our skills and abilities, we can handle the tasks ahead of us. It helps us motivate ourselves in hard times. To strengthen your self-efficacy, repeat three of the following affirmations (pick the ones that resonate most with you), 10 times every morning and evening like a mantra:

I believe in myself and in the fact that I have the skills I need to achieve my goals.

I am brave and embrace things I have little experience in.

I feel good, for I know how I can motivate myself.

I’m creative and always find a solution.

I’m brave and confident that I can overcome any challenge.

I feel secure, because I know nothing will steer me off my path.

l am confident I have enough resources to successfully put my plans into action.


Find out who you are

■ I yearn for... ________________________

■ Apart from time and money, what I want more than anything in the world is... ____________________________________

■ I should give myself more permission to… ____________________________________

■ What distinguishes me from others is... ____________________________________

■ What I normally do is... _______________ ____________________________________

■ What I do even though I don’t want to... ____________________________________

■ Things which make my heart skip a beat… _______________________________


What things move you?

■ My joyful colours... ___________________

■ My happiness melody... _______________

■ Love tastes like... ____________________

■ I feel appreciation as... _______________

■ When in doubt... ____________________

■ Pleasure feels like... __________________

■ I yearn for... ________________________

■ I’m proud of… ______________________

■ The first thing I think of when I wake up... ____________________________________

■ What deeply moves me... _____________ ____________________________________


Monitor your deepest feelings

■ The best advice I’ve ever given... _______ ____________________________________

■ The best advice I’ve received - and I’m glad I took it... ________________________

■ The best advice I’ve received and didn’t follow - and I’m glad I ignored it... ________ ____________________________________

■ I get through tough times because... ____________________________________

■ When in doubt... ____________________

■ My joy comes from... _________________

■ I value... ___________________________

■ I am totally against... ________________

■ What I know to be true... ______________