This past weekend, I learned that I hate goals.
Allow me to elaborate. I started my 2018 off on maybe the highest note I could imagine: leading eight gorgeous humans in The Desire Map alongside a ninth gorgeous human, Diana Stahl. I spent a weekend in a room full of some of the most loving, generous, vulnerable energy I've ever been around. (I know I am using a LOT of superlatives here, but I promise they are warranted.)
It was a really really fucking good weekend. But that's not the point of this letter.
I decided to do the Desire Map process alongside my participants, doing the journaling and answering the questions and everything, and my mind was blown multiple times.
The biggest surprise? In response to the question "How do you feel about goal setting?" the first word I wrote down was, "dread."
Yep: it turns out that I, who literally help clients set and pursue goals for a living (that's the whole definition of a life coach!), find the whole concept of goals to be dread-inducing. Oh, the irony. I can hear Alanis serenading me now.
I went on: apparently when I think of "goals," I think, "oh boy, another fucking thing to deal with." Maybe it's my years of indie theatre self-producing (which is basically just *constant* tasks), and never feeling like I'm "done." Maybe it's the fact that my life has been in a constant state of flux since I quit my day job two years ago. In fact, I'm sure it's all that.
But maybe it's also something bigger.
Has anyone else been thinking a lot about capitalism lately? I sure have! Capitalism + living in a weird Puritanical workaholic country = a fantastic recipe for feeling like you are only as valuable as your productivity. Your output. We receive very little validation or reward for growing in ways that aren't visible or linear. Achievements or GTFO, basically.
So even when a goal might be very heart-centered, the whole concept of even having a goal is still fraught with a shitload of baggage. It's still a thing that you now need to *achieve,* have something to show for. It still means tasks on your to-do list, alongside other tasks that you might have a great deal of shame about not having done yet.
I often love deciding I'm gonna do a thing and then accomplishing the fuck out of it, but not always! Sometimes you accomplish a goal and you're like, "That's it? Damn, that was a lotta work; I could've finally watched Stranger Things instead." (I've never seen Stranger Things.)
I also looooove serendipity. I love it when I realize that I've grown in ways I could not POSSIBLY have predicted. I love it when some random person from some random event turns out to be one of the most important people in my life. I love it when I stumble upon some article that changes how I look at the world and ends up shifting my entire life-path. Life just feels more magical that way.
Is it better to dance with serendipity while still taking aim and acting with intention? Most people would probably say yes. And even I think that a life without goals would mean to drift into inertia, inaction, and dissatisfaction. So, fine; we take aim and act with intention. And my coaching training certainly has taught me that we can change the goalposts if the current path doesn't feel right anymore.
But I don't think I'd fully appreciated until this past weekend just how much psychological *weight* we have around goals, regardless of what the goal even is. I hadn't acknowledged how much goal-related trauma (and I don't think "trauma" is too strong a word here) I was interacting with just by the nature of the work.
Going forward, I'm going to be a lot more intentional in showing tenderness around that. I'm going to make sure I acknowledge that goals can be fraught things, that my clients' worth is not dependent upon the completion of tasks, that capitalism fucks us all up. I'm going to make sure I hold space for the blocks and shames and fears that come up around whether or not we get stuff done.
And the irony, of course, is that I reread the above paragraph and...welp...that's a GOAL, motherfucker! But it's one that fills me with hope and relief, not dread. It's a goal with no endpoint; it's a way of showing up in the world, of showing love, of taking care.
Now THAT is a goal I can get behind.
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