To achieve our goals, we’re told that we have to identify the things we want and work hard to get them. While that wisdom can work, it’s the round-about way to live into our aspirations. There is a better, more fulfilling path to what you really want. In this article, I share a different perspective on what it means to achieve your goals and how to make it happen.
It’s important to first recognize that your goals – everything you want – is not for the goal or “thing” itself. Sure, you want more money, a new job, a relationship, more time with your family, or a bigger house. While that all might sound enticing, it’s not actually those things you want.
You want the way you think those things are going to make you feel. Your goals point to a desired feeling state. You want the feeling you think reaching your goals will give you.
Check it out: If you want more money it’s probably because it will give you a greater sense of freedom and security. You might want a new job because you crave the feeling of challenge. If stronger relationships are your goal, then it’s most likely a sense of connection you’re after. For most of us, we get so caught up in achieving the goal that we lose sight of what it’s all about – a feeling.
The first step is to uncover the specific feeling you assume that goal will give you. If losing that annoying 19 lb gain from the COVID-19 pandemic is your goal, then ask, “What feeling would that give me?” Is it a sense of presence, control, or self-agency? Maybe it’s pride, self-love, or energy? If you have your sights set on getting a promotion this year, ask yourself what it’s really about. Is it respect? Significance? Invigoration?
Of course you want to feel “better” but that’s not enough information to do anything about it. So get granular with what you want to feel until you feel an energized clarity about what you really want. Getting to the heart of your “why” starts the creative process. Why? Because our minds love to solve problems.
When you go straight to the desired feeling state, you cut out the intermediary and create a path of least resistance. You create a direct line to the true aspiration – a feeling state. To walk that shorter path and experience a fulfillment no handbag, promotion, or new Land Rover Defender could ever provide, you have to get curious and honest about what you want to feel.
Early on we are taught that if we follow the formula, we will have done it “right.” And then we’ll be happy.
It goes something like this:
Then you will be happy.
We all know this strategy is not fool-proof. Despite following it perfectly, you could very well end up hating the company you work for. You could end up miserable in a relationship you can’t get out of. Disillusioned by the industry you feel stuck in, you wonder how you ended up in the wrong field. And more, how the hell are you going to buy your way into meaning and fulfillment. (cue Land Rover)
The strategy doesn’t necessarily work because it doesn’t factor in the most important part of the equation: the inspiration and feeling factor needed at all stages of the process! Instead we become spellbound by a strategy we think we “should” be following. We’re convinced if we do it right and achieve the “thing” – we’ll feel like we’ve arrived, and hopefully happy.
Yet often we’re not.
How to get around this?
The secret is to feel it out, don’t figure it out.
Figuring, calculating, strategizing your way to your goals ignores the most important part of life itself: how you feel in your life as you go about your life. Instead of following a formula that leads to no-where, shift and be now-here. Listen for the inklings and impulses pointing you into passion, fascination, meaning, purpose and joy. Listen to your intuition and honor those inspired, life-energizing thoughts that prompt you… to keep reading… until 2am in the morning about regenerative technologies or advances social neuroscience. Follow the feelings that have you so compelled, even if they doesn’t “make sense.” You’re listening for that feeling that makes you feel buoyant, energized, expansive…
Because that’s where your desired feeling state lives.
It’s in your inspiration. Your inspiration is uniquely yours and it won’t lead you astray.
When we follow a formula or strategy to the supposed good life, we fall into the trap it’s gotta go a certain way. But when it doesn’t go according to plan, we automatically assume we’re failing, unlucky, or off-track. That doesn’t feel good.
We can eliminate a lot of anxiety by accepting the fact that there is no ultimate plan for happiness. AND, that it will never go according to a plan. (Case in point: How much of what you thought would be true for you 10 years ago is what you’re actually living now?) Instead, I encourage you to think as far as it feels good, and think no further. Use your inspiration to guide you to your desired feeling state and be open to what opportunities life presents you.
Now that we’re clear that all goals map to a desired feeling state, all that’s left to do is follow the feeling.
Which requires action!
And sometimes that’s scary!
But instead of getting scared. Get excited. The universe favors the bold.
Lean into all things uncomfortably exciting because that’s how you expand your horizon of possibilities. When presented with options, opportunities, ideas and endeavors feel into them and discern how it truly feels. Does this job opportunity feel buzzy and exciting or does it seem calculated. Does it feel good or seem to make sense? The more you can discern between what feels expansive and energizing vs. heavy and analytical, the easier it will get to pick out those opportunities that present a direct line to your desired feeling state.
When that expansive feeling presents itself, you must act. Despite not having all the information. Despite it maybe not making complete “sense.” When the feeling of inspiration is present, choose momentum over certainty. Make the moves to bring to life the gifts that life have presented to you.
You’ll have a different relationship to the word “goals.” No doubt you will still identify the things you want to achieve that would be fun, amazing, and profitable. Things like as launching a new brand, publishing a book, or starting a new company. But instead of falsely thinking that the end game is achieving them, you use them as a means to feel into the best feelings life has to offer… an incredible, life-giving state of energy, hope, enthusiasm, eagerness, expansion, curiosity, fulfillment and meaning that no “thing” could ever provide you. 🙂