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The New Year is here and like so many others, I’m naturally drawn to imagining what I want for 2016. I notice the part of me that wants to create lists and spreadsheets with lofty marketing and income goals and plan with great detail how I’m going to achieve my vision. It’s like a default mode many of us fall into, and for years this is how I started my New Year. I loved feeling so organized. For many years, creating lists for the New Year was not only satisfying, but also incredibly effective. I’d set my mind to something, work hard, and accomplish it.  So why doesn’t this process work for me anymore? 

Now I’m in a space where I’m literally unable to manufacture “goals” anymore. As a former queen of goal-setting, you can imagine my surprise when I finally learned that “goal-setting” as I knew it was no longer an option for me.

The reason I can’t do it anymore is because when I’m truly present, I understand (at a level beyond my mind) that my life and soul have a direction they want to take and my job is just to tune in, then get the hell out of the way. For example, last year I had a very clear goal of completing my second book. I had well-laid writing plans, deadlines, and accountability all set up in support of completing my goal. I started writing with ease, but then, after two chapters were complete, I couldn’t write anymore. This was more than just writer’s block. In staying present to my experience, it was clear I needed to stop writing. I was at a crossroads. I could beat my head against the wall and try to plow through (bad idea since I was writing a book on presence), or surrender to the experience and see what my life had in store instead. I chose the latter and life took me on a path I couldn’t have seen coming. I ended up being asked to do more speaking for my current book and took on a project that I can now see (in hindsight of course) is a perfect backdrop for the next book.

Now, during December and January each year I no longer jump into goal-setting mode like my old “make it happen” self used to. I no longer ask, “What am I going to accomplish this year?” Instead, I intentionally create as much silence and space (often a couple of days if possible) so I can tune into a deeper, more creative side of myself (I’ll call it my soul). I ask (my soul, not my mind), “What wants to emerge right now?” or “What wants to express through me?”

Listening to your soul is often more effective than listening to your mind because it’s rarely (I might argue ever) wrong. I’ve developed trust in the act of listening to my soul over the years and I know when I’m truly present and listening that the direction of my time, energy and passion is being stewarded from a far wiser source than my mind. My mind isn’t useless during this process; it just needs to take the backseat for a while until my soul can set the course. Once I get a sense of the direction I want to go, then my mind gets to figure out how I’m going to get there (and boy does it love a good challenge).

The fundamental difference in my goal-setting process now is that I first inquire, then listen and allow. This only works when I’m in a state of presence and simply being, not doing.  Then, from a place of presence I know exactly what steps need to be taken and how I’m going to move forward. My goal-setting process is far easier, more efficient, and more enjoyable than it ever has been and it just keeps getting better!

Experiment:

As you to think about your goals for 2015 I invite you to ask yourself, “What wants to emerge through me this year?” or simply set the intention to give your soul a little bit of space to be acknowledged.  I suspect that if you play with these inquiries, your 2016 goals will be more compelling, creative, and courageous than ever before. Also, did I mention that “allowing” makes “producing” a whole lot easier? Don’t take my word for it…just try it for yourself!