When you're setting goals, what is it you really want?
Think of one you want to achieve. At the core of any goal setting plan that comes to mind you'll find the desire to be happy.
In considering your lifetime goal, let's say you want to discover and live your life's true purpose. Why do you want that? Because you perceive it would make you happier. Or perhaps someone you love is sick and you want them to feel better. Knowing that they are safe and well will certainly contribute to your happiness as well.
Even setting goals like getting a new job, car, or home is based on wanting to feel better.
After we've spent years (and maybe lifetimes) searching for happiness in this dream through various experiences and not finding permanent joy, eventually we all turn our attention within ourselves. Now we are focused on a new desire – spiritual awakening – and even that desire is fueled by the hope that awakening will bring us happiness.
But what if your focus on a goal is causing you stress? Is that helping you achieve your underlying goal of happiness?
Let's take a look at this.
First of all...
We are all conditioned to believe
we are a collection of thoughts, beliefs, self-concepts, emotions and a
body. We think we are a separate fragment, surrounded by other separate
fragments. We feel incomplete. As a result, the mind will always be
preoccupied with trying to find something or some experience to complete
itself, which we interpret as happiness.
Eventually, after we've spent years setting goals for happiness, looked for it in a multitude of things and experiences and still don't feel completely at peace, we naturally turn our attention to the "one" who is seeking it. Who / what is this "me" I believe and feel myself to be who is unhappy? As we turn toward this "me" we discover it is just a thought! It actually has no substance at all.
When we ask the question, "So what AM I, then?" and we explore what arises as a result of that question, we begin to know ourselves as the Awareness that is aware of all our experience.
All the time we were setting goals, looking for happiness and never finding a permanent experience of it, we overlooked the one place where it has always been, is now and will always be: as the Awareness that we already are.
When we bring attention to ourselves as Awareness, we realize we (Awareness) have always been here, in the background of all our experience. We didn't experience the happiness we already are (Awareness) because our attention has been on our thoughts, beliefs, body, emotions, setting goals and etc., believing all that is the entirety of what we are.
When we shift attention to Awareness, it then becomes the foreground of our experience and the thoughts and etc. fade to the background.
Even when unhappiness appears in Awareness, you are aware OF the happiness. And you, Awareness aren't unhappy at all, even with unhappiness appearing within you!
Here is a bridge to gradually shift your attention to yourself as Pure Awareness, so you can know the peace that you truly are, even while you're setting goals and working toward them:
(Give each step a few minutes before moving on to the next.)
The following links can also help you get to know yourself as Awareness:
When you bring your attention within, at first it may be hard to shift your attention to yourself, Awareness, if you are experiencing strong, uncomfortable feelings of unhappiness in the form of depression, fear, anger, sadness, etc., while thinking about setting goals, or even while thinking of nothing in particular.
Your attention will most likely be drawn to any sensation / emotion, because our conditioning says "Alert! You need to do something about this!"
The best way to facilitate the dissolution of unhappiness or any uncomfortable experience is to first let go of trying to make it go away. Unhappiness is actually a neutral energy until we push against it and label it as "bad." It is the story about the sensation that creates suffering, not the sensation itself.
If you try to make it go away, it is like telling a hurt child within you, "I want you to go away." This only perpetuates suffering, because it keeps you divided from yourself.
Instead, let whatever sensation you are aware of be here fully, just as it is, without trying to manage, control or fix it in any way. This page will help you with this.
As long as these bodies are appearing in this dream, our minds will be setting goals, wanting to orient us toward finding some kind of happiness. No need to try to stop it. You won't be able to anyway. :-)
It is only when we EXCLUSIVELY focus on setting goals and working toward them (without balancing it with the enjoyment of what we're doing, and staying open to where our intuition wants to guide us) that we make life more stressful for ourselves, and actually decrease the likelihood that we will get what we really want, which I'll go into in a moment.
As I mentioned before, you can "stand" in Awareness, the you who is
already and always at peace, even while you're setting goals and working with them, and enjoy yourself along the way!
In a moment I'll give you some tips to help you move toward your goals in a much more productive and enjoyable way.
First, you might find this interesting...
Two researchers – Ayelet Fishbach from the University of Chicago and Jinhee Choi from Korea Business School – found that while setting goals if we focus exclusively on a goal itself, we edge out our enjoyment of what we are doing. When we compromise our enjoyment we actually decrease our ability to achieve the goal.
In the study, two groups of subjects worked out in a gym. After setting goals, the first group focused exclusively on the goal, like running on a treadmill. The second group focused on enjoying the present time, in-the-moment experience of the workout rather than a future ideal they were working toward.
The researchers discovered that the first group, who focused on a specific attainment goal, initially had more enthusiasm but measurably less success than the second group, who were instead focused on enjoying their present time experience.
Also, the goal-focused group felt that the exercise was more of a chore and took more effort than the second group, who experienced more fluidity and energy with their workout.
The conclusion of the study was that keeping your eye on a goal can diminish your ability to enjoy what you are doing right now, and decrease your effectiveness in attaining your goal.
Basically, this comes down to the difference between being fully here in the present moment vs living in our minds. While setting goals, if we too narrowly focus on the attainment of a future goal, it perpetuates the illusion that we are a collection of thoughts, images, self concepts and emotions all housed in a body rather than this alive, peaceful, unconfined presence that is simply here NOW.
Recently on the "60 Minutes" TV show a man who was part of a US
Navy Sea, Air, Land Team described a pivotal moment in his life that demonstrates the power of being attentive to the present moment.
While on a training exercise, rock climbing at a very high elevation, he was delicately perched on the face of a rock, frozen in fear, unable to move.
His trainer climbed up beside him and encouraged him to stay within his "three-foot world." The trainer brought his attention to the fact that in that moment, the only area where he could effect change in his world was in the three feet around him. That was the only thing he had control over – what he chose to do in that three-foot world.
The trainer encouraged him to stay HERE in this moment
and do what was doable in that three-foot world. He guided the climber to look around him at the area within his reach, find one move that was possible, focus on that one move and do it. Then after the man completed that one move, the trainer urged him to repeat the process, step by step by step, one step at a time.
The climber followed his trainer's advice and one by one, found foot and hand holds, eventually climbing his way to the top of the rocky surface.
In setting goals, we focus on the future, but it is actually this present moment that is the true "place" of power, energy effectiveness, wisdom, insight, and creativity, as well as joy!
the degree that our attention leaves this present moment, to that same
degree we diminish our experience of true power, energy, effectiveness,
wisdom, insight, creativity and joy.
This is where you are alive, NOW. Before setting goals, first determine what you WANT to do and what you feel drawn to do, that is doable right now in this moment. What lights you up? What makes you feel energized when you think of doing it?
Do that one thing. Focus on the aspect of it that you like and which energizes you as you're doing it, and enjoy it.
Then repeat the process. Your "hand and foot holds" will keep appearing, one at a time.
You'll notice that engaging with each "hand or foot hold" that you enjoy and are naturally drawn to GIVES you energy, while forcing yourself DEPLETES and scatters your energy and produces anxiety.
So, what can you do right NOW?
“Live life as if everything is rigged in your favor.”
As you're setting goals and going about your life, be on the lookout for what brings a spark of joy to you. Even if it is just a small spark, it can lead to a big flame. Pay attention to those sparks and follow where they lead you.
Maybe you enjoy looking at fashion magazines, or blueprints, or cookbooks or tech manuals or books about healing. If you're drawn to it, it is a golden "hand or foot hold" that is beckoning you in its direction. Follow that nudge. Take the most doable step that takes you more deeply into it. What have you got to lose?
If fashion draws you, before setting goals about it, just start playing with designs. Get out paper and pencils and play. Discover YOUR unique path by seeing what aspect of it you enjoy the most.
Just start where you are. See what wants to appear on the paper.
If you're past the setting goals phase and are already aware of what excites you but feel stuck moving toward it, you are probably thinking in too big of chunks.
For instance, maybe you want to write a book but feel overwhelmed by the project.
What is a doable step you can do right now?
Here are some examples: Just start "Awareness-storming" topics. (I prefer this term over "brainstorming" because this activity is more connected to Awareness than the brain.) If you already know a topic you want to focus on, "Awareness-storm" about what you want to include in it. Open up a blank file in your text program and start typing. See what naturally flows out.
Later you can look through what you've written and decide how to break your subjects down into chapter titles and subheads. Don't worry about that right now. For this moment, it's just you and a blank file, waiting for you to fill it with what is already bursting inside of you to share (or you wouldn't be drawn to write the book in the first place).
Start with what feels DOABLE right now. Do that, and then the next doable step will come into Awareness.
Being in a state of enjoyment is more therapeutic for you than you might realize. When you focus on the in-the-moment play aspects of ANY activity, you'll notice that your mind is open, alert and energized, yet relaxed. In this creative openness new ideas and possibilities will readily come into Awareness that you didn't previously have access to.
I also experience expansion and greater freedom when I'm doing what I love.
And the body loves to play as well! Whenever our attention shifts to joy, the nervous system and the entire body reap huge healing benefits.
The more you can listen to and follow those nudges that bring you joy as you're going through your goal setting steps, the more successful and happier you'll be, doing what you really want to do.
After setting goals it is natural and fun to get into the feeling of how it will feel to achieve them. Yes! If it brings you joy, do it.
But then come back to the present moment and notice what brings you joy right now.
In order to imagine a future experience, your attention leaves the present moment, which, remember, is the only place you can consciously access yourself as Awareness, and which is the only "place" of true, permanent happiness, as well as power and effectiveness.
In order to imagine anything, you have to shift attention to the same mind that inherently believes it is a fragment dealing with other fragments, rather than the integrated Whole we all are together. Even though the mind might be focused on an image of something pleasurable, the pleasure itself isn't permanent.
The mind can only operate as a field of polarities –
yes / no, good / bad, I want this / I don't want that, etc. When it focuses on
one end of a polarity ("This is what I want."), the other end of the
polarity ("But I'm afraid this will happen instead.") will always kick in at
some point. It's just how the mind is set up.
Remember that the underlying premise the mind operates from is
So setting goals and imagining them fulfilled, as well as anything that we do that is initiated exclusively by mind will be flavored with this perspective.
Therefore, I encourage you to bring your attention to THIS moment, the "place" of true power AND true peace. This is the only "place" where you can consciously experience yourself as Pure Awareness, which is the you who already IS happiness itself.
That way you have a better chance of achieving your true goals as well.
I know, it seems like a paradox doesn't it.
But truly, it amazes me how much more efficient and productive I am when I focus on what I enjoy more than what's on my "Get It Done" list.
After setting goals, if I try to force myself to do something I'm simply not ready to do because I don't WANT to do it right now, it either doesn't get done at all or it gets done poorly and is ineffective because I don't feel connected to it and I'm not totally "here" when I'm doing it.
In the morning when we first awaken from sleep, in the first few seconds or minutes there is the absence of an identification with our name, self concepts, story, and etc.
Then gradually, as the mind becomes active, we begin to think of our current "problems." Sometimes, at this point, our attention gets drawn into a mental loop of worse case scenario and / or becomes occupied with setting goals to try and solve problems so that we can feel better.
I invite you to linger your attention in this open space, before your usual identification with your name, life and self concepts come back in. Explore it. Get to know it. This "space" is actually who / what you truly are – Pure Awareness – before being overlaid with the usual identifications.
“Love, like a river, will cut a new path whenever it meets an obstacle.”
Then, at some point the mind will kick in and start setting goals again as the usual story of "me" returns. You'll notice an array of "shoulds" that come to mind. They will be in regards to things that you want in your life – from the mundane ("I want a cup of coffee") to the bigger picture ("I want a better relationship / career / health situation").
Notice how you feel as these thoughts about things to do come into Awareness. Pay attention to the ones that bring a sense of openness, joy, and even excitement, ranging from slight to full on joy.
notice that you WANT to do some of the things you thought of (even if
it is just a mild "want"), while you WON'T want to do some other things.
When your Inner Guidance / Intuition shows you what is most
optimal for you to do right now, it is always accompanied by a positive
feeling, ranging from mildly positive to obviously exuberant.
On the other hand, when the "Get It Done" mind starts setting goals and offers its "shoulds" for the day, you will always notice a feeling of contraction, from mild to extreme discomfort.
Take note of the ideas / things to do that FEEL good. Those are the ones that are best for you to focus on first. They will also be the tasks that are the most DOABLE for you right now. Situations will be more lined up to facilitate doing that project (or even one small part of that project) more so than a mind-generated "should."
For instance, out of all the items on my "Get It Done" list, today, what lit up the most for me is writing this ezine to you!
Steps For Setting Goals That Are In Line With Your Highest Happiness
Tips For Setting Goals
If you feel drawn to setting goals by planning out all the steps, by all means do it, especially if it feels good to you to do that, for either the big picture or immediate goals.
Just keep in mind that it might not unfold in precisely the way you plan it. Your intuition (following what brings you joy) might just take you in an entirely different direction than you could have ever imagined.
While setting goals, if you do decide to make a long term plan, then still focus on THIS moment and notice what feels the most enjoyable and doable right now. You might notice that something that was in your plan for three years from now wants to happen right now, or something else you hadn't even thought of when you formulated your plan takes precedence over everything else.
I'll share with you an example from my own life of how following my intuition (by noticing what brings me joy), one "hand or foot hold" at a time continues to bring me more joy than I could have ever imagined.
I didn't plan out any of it to look the way it has shown up!
In this lifetime I've had many careers, including dental assisting, sales, secretarial work, care-giving, and free lance graphic design, besides many other smaller jobs. I also ran a large housecleaning company while simultaneously completing several courses in energy healing and practicing what I learned, first with myself and then with many others.
While setting goals to try to get what I wanted, although there were some things about many of those jobs and careers that I enjoyed, none of them felt fulfilling.
the way, I was far more interested in what I was exploring spiritually than
anything I was doing in the realm of the body. That was / is what has
always excited me the most.
So, while I was still running the housecleaning business, setting goals and doing energy healing, I began writing this site, simply because I wanted to. I loved sharing my realizations and experiences. It was very exciting to share the things that have helped me and changed my life from suffering to joy.
kept thinking about how I felt when I was suffering and came across an
experience, realization, person, or book that brought me to the next
step. It was exhilarating to be the bringer of that next step to
others, because I knew from my own experience how much it meant. So many
had helped me along the way, and it was always such a blessing to see a
candle in the darkness.
I enjoyed sharing "candles of light" so much (and still do!), I'd stay
up late into the night, happily typing away.
Then one day while lying on a massage table having body work done, within myself I practiced the techniques that later evolved into the WellBeing Alignment Sessions I offer today.
I realized what I was doing was more
effective than the body work my friend was doing on me. From within I heard an inner voice that said, "This isn't just for you." My whole being vibrated
with joy, light and love as the idea came to coach others in the methods I'd been shown for healing.
(By the way, I'm not saying that body work isn't helpful. It certainly is, and has it's place. I'm just reporting the circumstances in which a pivotal "aha!" idea came to me.)
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
So... Without setting goals yet, I started giving free healing sessions that were very different from the energy healing I'd been doing. I let people know these new sessions were offered in the spirit of experimentation and play, as I looked for ways to translate the methods I'd been shown to help myself into methods that others could use to help themselves as well.
That led to writing more pages on my site,
experimenting with doing sessions on the phone, then later on Skype and
FaceTime. The healing / coaching methods became more distilled, direct and
powerful, a process that continues to this day.
Now, years later, I'm grateful every single day that I
get to meet with all of you lovely beings all over the world, sharing a
powerful method of healing you can learn for yourself! I enjoy it more than anything else I've ever experienced, and it is immensely fulfilling to receive all your reports about how you are awakening into the truth of who you are and enjoying your lives more.
All of this emerged from following each inner nudge that I felt drawn to when it evoked a feeling of joy within me. If I don't feel joy when an idea comes to me, I don't do it.
The nudges continue to come together as a loosely held, ever changing path that is far more enjoyable, productive and effective than any of the conventional methods I previously tried for setting goals.
I continue to follow the joyful nudges, one step at a time, as I've shared with you on this page. My life continues to shift and change in unpredicted directions, yet at the core of all of it is an unshakeable peace, love and joy.
If you'd like support in the processes introduced here for setting goals or for learning how to let any kind of suffering unwind, I'm very happy to coach you...
In WellBeing Alignment Sessions you can learn an amazingly simple yet powerful, direct method of letting all forms of suffering and "stuckness" unwind by itself, and discover you are the Peace that was underneath it all along!
Ready to live your life from an entirely different perspective? How about a much happier one? Click here for more information.
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