This article is not about typical problems of follow though with new year’s resolutions. I think philosophers, scientists, anthropologists and Oprah have all talked about that and they have suggestions to sort that out.
The real pitfalls of goal setting is not that we can’t follow through. We don’t set goals right.
"This year, I am going to do A, B, C"
I’ve done this many times.
I’ve even taken my time, meditated, and felt pretty confident that I have thought this through carefully and have created fail-free goals. I’ve even fulfilled many goals each year.
Yet, something was not right. I still didn’t FEEL fulfilled.
The thing is, we think we know so much about what we really want. But the truth is, most of the time, I have no idea what the heck I want and what actually makes me feel happy.
Growing up, my dreams changed so frequently my parents didn’t really take me seriously most of the time. One week, I wanted to be a musician, another week, I wanted to be a pilot, then the next week, I was dead set on being an actress.
I think I still do more or less the same thing. “This year, I’m going to be really organized.” “This year, I am going to open a yoga studio.”
So……how would I set a goal if I didn’t know what makes me feel happy?
"The question is of your inner feelings" ~ Osho
It doesn’t matter whether I am a musician, yoga teacher, or a banker, had $30 or $30 million in my bank account. If I don’t feel the way I wanted to feel, they’re all useless.
When I was in high school in Japan, I had a crush on one of the senior boys. He lived in the US for a year and had just come back to Japan. As I nervously sat down, sitting next to him as he talked about his life overseas, and I expressed my interest in living in Canada, he said “well, what do you want to do there?”
I had no idea and it stopped me completely…..English was my favourite subject and I was really good at it. But what was I going to do once I finish college? What was my dream? I had been focusing so much on being accepted by universities or colleges in Canada that I missed the whole point. I was reminded that the point of actually going overseas or going to universities is to be able to actually do the things I want to do in my life and be happy. But what is it that I want to do? So I frantically made a list of things I think I want to do because those are the things that should make me feel happy: secure jobs to keep me stable so I can travel, buy clothes, get a car, and have secure retirement.
so that turned into a every year list. “This year, I will be organized in my finances” “This year, I am going to cook more” “This year, I am going to lose/gain weight” “This year, I am going to run more”. These things became my new “car” or “secure jobs”. And I am the first one to admit that not all of them actually made me happy. They did for a short while and the effect quickly wore off.
I wonder if I could actually trust my feelings to guide me through the year? What if I still set goals to the best of my knowledge, realize that even my own goals are part of ever changing impermanent things in life so I stay open and flexible in my goals AND diligently follow my feelings? Would that work? I think I am willing to give it a try. What’s your thought?
"Follow your Bliss" ~ Joseph Campbell