Can you believe it’s already November? Yes, we’re hurtling towards that time of the year when many start planning for what’s to come. Depending on how your 2018 has gone, you might feel joy, regret, disappointment, or perhaps even just apprehensiveness about the future.
If you’re anything like me (or many creative girl bosses out there, for that matter), you’re probably all ready to grab your notebook and a pen and start making lists of things to achieve before the year ends, or for 2019.
The exhaustion of relentless goal-setting
What we strive for in perfection is not what turns us into the lit angel we desire, what disturbs and then nourishes has everything we need. —David Whyte
There’s nothing wrong with ambition and pursuing goals. But let’s be honest, making lists that consist of things like “Get the promotion” or “Pay off the loan” or “Service the car” can sometimes feel exhausting and downright soul-sucking.
This was exactly how how author, public speaker, and spirituality guru Danielle LaPorte felt one Christmas before she wrote “The Desire Map”. She realized that her goals were, in her own words, “completely uninspired”.
She asked herself how she really wanted to feel in the year ahead, and the answers surprised her. “Sexy, affluent, abundance, and all that.” It dawned on her that her way of setting and achieving goals was completely contradictory to how she wanted to feel. The constant pursuit of achieving things and trying to aim bigger, better, and shinier each time left her feeling “like a loser”. Like she was not achieving fast enough or doing enough.
How similar is that story to so many of ours? Since a young age, we’re taught how to make to-do lists, how to do “time management” and “self-improvement”, but we don’t often stop to think about why we chase the goals that we do.
Goals are often external representations of certain ideals. For many people, our goals are influenced by those around us we see living various versions of ‘success’. But for many people who have attained those things, they’ve quickly realized they’re not necessarily happier or more content.
How do you really want to feel?
What you seek is seeking you. —Rumi
Being a hardcore planner, Danielle decided to completely overhaul her goal-setting process, while still retaining a sense of discipline and rhythm. She asked herself: “How do I want to feel during the coming quarter? The coming year? What do I have to do to feel this way?” And she began to list down what she calls her “core desired feelings” – by quarter and by year.
She soon realized this was a more positive way to harness her energy. She started chasing the things she desired, instead of the things she felt she “should” do. This is a much more powerful way of goal-setting, because instead of just defining an external goal (e.g. write a book), we are tapping into the source of our feelings which inspire us and give us energy (e.g. to feel generous by sharing my life story with others).
The discipline of desire
There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires. —Nelson Mandela
Danielle is quick to point out that while pursuing your desires may be intuitive, it is not necessarily easy.
It requires making the time to reflect and be radically honest with ourselves. Are we pursuing certain goals for ourselves? Or for our parents? For our partner? For our children?
Danielle recommends some key areas to reflect on your Core Desired Feelings for:
- Lifestyle and livelihood
- Body and wellness
- Relationships and society
- Creativity and learning
- Essence and spirituality
In addition, it’s so important to not just start out on the right track, but to stay on it. Our desired feelings might point us towards something specific, like “Climb Kilimanjaro” or “Complete yoga teacher training”. But it is a continued struggle to practice restraint. It is easy to dive in into setting up a detailed project plan, timeline and checklist of tasks to check off. Before you know it, you’ve fallen into that same trap of pursuing goals just for the sake of it.
Want to learn more about how you can do this? There’s a 40-page preview of Danielle’s book The Desire Map that can be downloaded, or you can watch Marie Forleo’s 20-minute video interview with Danielle.
Here’s wishing you not only a successful year end and 2019. Here’s to one that is filled with meaning, inspiration, and all the things you desire.