Do you want to create the best year you’ve ever had? Are your goals the same as last year’s? Or was last year productive and eventful? What did you create that mattered to you? What doesn’t matter anymore?
These questions all point toward a crossover process from one year to the next. As something this year was on the way out, something else still indistinct is on the way in, like the changing of the seasons. You’ll start something new, end something old, and continue something on.
Look at your goals from last year…
Question 1: What were your expectations? What did you set your sights on achieving?
Now look toward the future…
Question 2: What do you want to create?
This question implies that if you start with nothing, what do you want to bring into being? Creating is the intentional process of bringing something to exist that did not before. You must originate separate from what you know. So setting realistic and attainable goals is not the same as choosing to create what really does matter to you.
Goals don’t come from you, they move through you. The origins of meaningful goals work through the heart and soul. What matters to you is a very authentic consideration. The content originates from the generative love for something to exist. Something is aware of you, a destiny stands in need of you, and your call is to cause it to happen.
Goals aren’t problems to be solved. Goals are desired outcomes for their own sake. They aren’t conditions to rid. You can snuff this out if you ask yourself why you want a goal. If the underlying purpose defining the goal is
Goals aren’t steps. Goals are aims by which score is kept. Often times we think we’re after a goal, when in actuality it is just a step toward a bigger goal. Watch out!
Goals are outcomes you don’t have to believe in. How can you believe in something you haven’t created before? That sounds like a trick you play on yourself to lower your fear and muster more courage. Instead of locating your believer in you, how about instead depicting what is going on today in relationship to the goal?
Question 3: What is going on today in relationship to these goals?
Current reality is an acquired taste. You tend not to examine it for many reasons. You might find out something isn’t working and hear bad news. You might have to change something, uh-oh! Or you might find out that what you really think of yourself is true as a result of what’s going on.
Current reality is not a story, it’s a factual observation. Your perceptions aren’t accurate because of the stories you manufacture about reality. You make up theories and rules from the past which inserts a lens over what you see. With keen awareness, you can practice slowing down your self-deception and seeing what is going on. You can suspend your certainty and judgment and take an objective look at where things stand now in relationship to your goal.
Current reality calibrates a goal within a structure that can succeed. When you observe reality current reality juxtaposed to a goal you summon a pressure system that is seeking resolution between the goal and current reality. Think of this pressure system like the tension in the bow when an archer stretches both sides. Or imagine a rubber band between your fingers of both hands. The reason accurate perception is important is that it strengthens the tension more in the system. And the reason to stay true to what goal does matter to you is it also strengthens the tension in the system. When this tension is poised in this way, the nature of the tension is to seek resolution. The discrepancy between current reality and the goal have established a structure which is likely to work in your favor.
Current reality is not positive thinking. Some people might suggest thinking positively to help the result. But that would actually lower the tension we’re talking about. Positive thinking is a form of lying. Willpower manipulation, a close relative to positive thinking also lessens the tension. Self-forcing doesn’t last long enough to weather the time and distance required to hold the tension. The structure then collapses. Another close relative to these is ridding unwanted conditions. Current reality becomes a problem to solve and the actions taken are to remove them. This is not generative action, and doesn’t strengthen structural tension because the forces at play are eliminative.
Question 4: What has to happen now for the goal to happen then?
Thinking strategically is about knowing what matters most at the moment and knowing what is going on in relationship to what matters. When poised this way, you now begin to sense your next step. But having all the steps planned out is overkill. Just identify 1-3 steps ahead like 200 feet you can see ahead in the headlamps at night driving. Most of what you’ll plan will happen as the future is emerging. Planning is learned from the future, not the past, you lay the path down as you walk on it. The recurring action of the car moving forward illuminates the upcoming path through the headlamps. If you look back on how you get to the goals you’ve reached you’ll notice that the goal taught you the plan as you went along and stayed loyal to the unfoldment. A goal is a mystery to be solved. It is a wish in need of you from the future. It is bigger business from which to inform actions and take dominion over the small and petty stuff. And learning it faster involves acting in an instant. Fail fast, learn fast.
Thinking strategically is listening presently. As you step back and look at the context in motion in your life, you’ll begin to notice the seeds, the building blocks which tell you where your future is beginning. If you get too caught up in the goal, you may fail to listen to the emerging clues and signs that the present is revealing from the future to connect with you and be brought into reality.
As you’ve read this so far, you’ve become aware that goals are not obligations, they are subject matter you choose to create because something matters to you. That unless we organize our goals this way, the structures we summon which influence our behavior don’t tend to support what we want. Instead inadequate structures like problem solving, positive thinking, and willpower compensate like a temporary success device, but long range the structure itself leads back to where you were, or worse.
As you set your goals for 2011, use this insight to examine the depth of your goals. What lies beneath them? Why are you desiring them? From which place are your goals coming from? What’s the source from which your goals are originating? Be aware!