Happy 2014! It’s January. If you know me, you know what that means: reflecting and goal-setting! Many folks are against goal-setting. I have to admit, goal-setting gets me worked up too, but I do it anyway. Critics say that goals are too binding, too blinding (you may miss another set of goal posts while your head is turned), or that it sets you up for failure. I do see a downside to goal-setting: it’s not for everyone. If you can challenge yourself, are self-disciplined, and maybe highly motivated and productive, goals may not be needed and may get in the way. My problem with goals is that I can feel like a loser if I don’t meet them. But how do I feel when I do meet them? ELATED!
Here’s a visual of my elation (remember my 2013 goal?):
I know my eight-angle pose (Astavakrasana) is not pretty (yet!) but I worked hard for it and by setting the goal and declaring it publicly, it came to be. I am proud of myself. And I nailed this goal.
Planning does not come naturally to me (kind of like eight-angle pose). Planning is a skill that I am developing. Goal-setting helps me (or forces me) to plan. I set goals to stay in alignment with my purpose, so I don’t coast, and to make sure that I put my energy into something useful. I have a lot to accomplish during this lifetime! I feel the urgency not to settle for mediocrity. This year, I am setting goals to push myself out of mediocrity. No more playing it safe. I am afraid of my power, but that’s a story for another time.
As I mentioned last year, I use goals to create feelings I want to have in my life. It’s helpful to know what you want your life to be like, but it’s more helpful to know how you want to feel. If I want less clutter, I do not set a goal to de-clutter, but instead I will work on experiencing and creating more space or spaciousness (this is a yearly thing for me), and this becomes my goal. I will also focus on what is spacious right now in my life and be grateful for that. So far this has worked for me: I have created great spaciousness in many aspects of my life over the past year. How? I made a conscious effort to meditate regularly, and in doing so, this magically seemed to slow down time, creating space for other projects (I painted and put carpet in my daughter’s room and reorganized my bedroom so there is space for yoga and energy to flow). Along with it, I felt on top of chores: my house was pretty clean most of the time, laundry was done, meals were better planned, and I didn’t allow clutter to buildup in hallways or counter tops (as much). I turned down many evening activities, choosing instead to have time to myself or with my family; and by carefully and consistently planning ahead and diligently using our family calendar, I could see when times were going to be busy and I would plan for them by taking more time at home beforehand and I said no more often. At the end of my “creating spaciousness” focus, I feel I can move more freely throughout my house and my life.
More recently, I decided that I want to feel more love more often. So I try to find and be the love in any situation I am in. It’s a work in progress but so far this “what would love do?” or “what would love say” thing has been miraculous (enter compassion). I also find it useful to identify the great things that are already in my life, big and small, and acknowledge a few of them each day. Then, BOOM…POW…before I know it, there’s not a lot that I’d like to change because I am really diggin’ things. But what’s cool? Because I am happy and diggin’ things, more great cool opportunities, experiences, and moments come my way.
This brings me to a great goal-setting—er, “planning”—workbook recommended by a friend: Unravelling the year ahead 2014 by Susannah Conway. It’s free for download and has the stuff I like: opportunity for review and reflection (it feeds me to celebrate what went well), finding your word for the year, and addressing physical, mental, and spiritual goals. It also has a lovely feminine quality that my other goal-setting tools don’t. Alert: this is work for us non-planners! But I cleared my schedule last Monday, lit some candles and incense, played my transformational tunes, gathered my journal and favorite pens, and dug into it. Okay, after I cleaned, did laundry, washed the cupboards, made tea, ate, ate again, then devoured a chocolate orange. . . I dug into it (remember: I’m a non-planner. This was pretty much terrifying). The outcome was worth it! I came up with new ideas for my business (all to help you and me) and re-worked my daily practice, health priorities, and more. But what I really liked is that it helped me to dream big. I love dreaming. I wrote about it last year. Dreaming dusts off my imagination and allows me to create without limits. For fun. With reckless abandon. Those dreams that have opened my mind to all kinds of cool possibilities that I otherwise would not have considered.
Creating space for planning my year ahead helped me gain clarity on what I really want my days to feel like. Sitting in that space allowed me to discover how journaling is going to become a regular daily practice. Man do I get some great answers when I journal: answers from the universe. Now there is some wind to my sails, the declination is once again properly set on my compass, guiding me along in flow with my purpose. Some things that came up for me: putting my whole self into life, enhancing connections with friends and Mountain Man, more yoga (okay here it is…by the end of this year I want to be able to do handstand without my back to the wall—note I am too chicken to say I will be doing it, ‘cause I might fail…there’s still that), thanking my people, more love, regular journaling, regular massage, more space for my daughter, more laughter, and being okay with my aging body (really- accepting that I misplaced collagen somewhere between 45 and 46 and it’s not comin’ back). Oh and the word? My word for 2014 is “Create.” In all areas. Boom.
I can do better, love and help more, honour my skills, and stretch. For me, reflecting and planning help guide me to do these things. How do you feel about the words “goal-setting” and “planning”? Does one work better than the other for you? Or do you use them both? Or, maybe something else? I would love to hear what works for you in the comments.
Love and light,
Oh and maybe you would like to join those of us in Athabasca for a Yo-Qi Workshop (yep, yoga and qigong…along with some journaling that will set your intentions to ensure a brilliant 2014) on Saturday Feb. 1, 2014.