Paula Levin

#coached5 Goal Mining with Sterna

Sterna Wineberg - supplied
Sterna Wineberg - supplied.

Goal mining 

In December I accomplished something that has been on my to do list for 9 years! And there is only one reason for this – coaching with Sterna. There’s something about getting help putting intentions into words and being accountable to someone that seems to have been the secret ingredient to getting stuff done! I use the word intentions because as Sterna points out, not everyone likes the word goals. Especially around the new year. It can feel too pressurising, and ironically at the same time, it’s associated with pipedreams that never materialise. New Year’s resolutions are infamous for starting off guns blazing and petering out within the month! This was not that. 

I met with Sterna early December wanting to see if coaching could help me make my goals a reality, especially since I also didn’t know what exactly they are! I asked Sterna how one decides on what their goals should be? She suggested an exercise where you imagine yourself looking at a bookshelf, and every book is an aspect of your life. For example, each child is his or her own book. Other books might be:

Relationships, Marriage, Money, Friendships, Spirituality, Community, Health, Work, Hobbies… 

“Hobbies!” I was gobsmacked. “What are hobbies?” I asked. Of course I don’t need a definition of the word hobbies, I know what they are, I just never thought as a busy mom, wife and employee, that I was ‘allowed’ a hobby, or that there was any space or justification for one in my life! Sterna explained that we all need something in our lives that we enjoy, that feeds our energy levels and makes our faces light up. This does not take away from our responsibilities, it energises us so that we can tackle them with greater life force. What a revelation!!! Maybe it’s just me but I had always thought of a hobby as a total indulgence. I love art and painting and have often thought about learning an instrument and so many other wishful reveries that flit across my mind from time to time. But I’ve always dismissed such things as preposterous wastes of time. (Even though I waste time anyway!) I think only a coach, who is also my Rebbetzin, and also an incredible mother and grandmother could possibly have enough credibility to tell me it’s ok to have something as frivolous sounding as a hobby. But more on that in another blog when G-d willing, I get to chasing those dreams. But at least the door is wide open for the first time since I had kids! 

Back to the bookshelf. Sterna explained that when it comes to deciding on goals, I should brainstorm goals for each “book” on the shelf, for example by creating a mind map. “The process of setting goals involves mining, defining, refining and shining.  When mining, a lot of stuff gets ‘shlepped’ out of the earth and you have a mixed bag of precious minerals but also other irrelevant stuff. So the next step is to define what is valuable, what goals to focus on and what is not so relevant. Then comes refining. This is where you crystallise what exactly in that area needs to be the focus. Last is shining. You state exactly what you want to achieve. The goal needs to really shine – to sparkle and glisten and to activate excitement. Make it as real as possible by imagining it in detail. Use your different senses so it really pops,” she advised. “Achieving goals has to involve enjoyment, otherwise we go into avoidance patterns, so think about how to bring in some fun,” she added.

I shared with Sterna that I had one book that was calling for some attention. The Aliya book. (No, not as in moving to Israel/ making aliyah – as in my nine year old daughter Aliya.) For a few months I had been feeling a sense of disconnection. The week before, on the last day of school I asked her if she wanted to go for hot chips to celebrate – and she said “with who?”!! Ouch.

“With me of course,” I answered. “Nah,” she answered. I was gutted. I know she is growing up and wants to hang with cousins and friends her own age, but the incident told me that I needed to find new ways to connect with her one on one.  Sterna invited me to take that “Aliya book” off the shelf and create a mind map of how I could connect with her more. “When deciding on a destination you first need to know where you are right now. In order to get to where you want to go, you need to know what your starting point is and what obstacles lie in the way. So what is blocking you?” she asked me. Well I knew one main culprit – my phone…And another, feeling exhausted.

“To achieve any goals, we need to know our current reality and our vision, where we want to get to. The route from point A to point B depends on your personality.”

In the next blog I’ll share what goals I tackled in December (including the one that had been on my list for 9 years and 4 years respectively). 

But in the meantime, imagine your own bookshelf. Write down each title. Tune into yourself as Sterna suggests and start brainstorming goals or intentions for each of these parts of your life. Then do some goal mining and get a clear, shining vision of what you want and when you want it. Then think about where you are in relation to those goals. (Maybe just pick one.) What is blocking your path to making the vision a reality.

Seriously, do it! I did, and I can’t wait to share what happened next.

If you  really want to take things to the next level get in touch with Sterna – email

About the Author
Paula is a wife, mother and writer - based in Johannesburg, South Africa, dreaming of Israel. She is a full-time thinker, part-time copywriter at her husband's advertising agency, journalist and published author. The former editor of Jewish Life magazine, she is now a regular contributor with a passion for contributing goodness, kindness and wisdom to this world.