I’ve been so focused on ‘serious’ posts that I haven’t written nearly as much or as often as I should.
Today, a little break to ponder a fun question:
What is your fearful adventure?
In my mind I like to think that I could travel to some exotic locations… Maybe Thailand, or India. My mind plays through a pretty, Travel Channel version of how colorful and lovely it would be.
But truth be told, I like the comforts of home.
I’d like to think I’d be a gracious and flexible traveler. But I might snivel a bit about all the bugs of tropical locations. Or be a bit out of place with the vast cultural differences & frightening traffic.
Then again, my heart tells me that someday I WILL get the chance to stretch, to go on my fearful adventure.
It’s a funny question, right? What do feelings have to do with goals?
Sometimes life has to hit you over the head a few times before you ‘get it’. At least, that’s the way it’s been for me.
I’ve been reading about the importance of setting goals for over ten years.
Goals are a huge part of personal development; every expert and author worth their salt talks about goals.
Goals truly, deeply, make sense. At every level I understood how necessary they are. But I couldn’t set them.
I’d sit down with lined paper and a favorite pen and feel the pressure of putting my future on paper. If I was lucky I’d write down five awkward goals. Somehow they never seemed to fit, or to say what I wanted.
Somewhere inside I felt the presence of the intentions that were the seeds of big & bright goals, but those intentions never came out right in words or on paper. The curves-and-lines that were my writing never connected with me when I looked at them. There was no feeling in the words that looked back at me.
A few half-hearted attempts here and there… I realized the futility of writing a goal that wasn’t really a goal. Yet something continued to pull at me, so I kept learning. Kept reading.
Brian Tracy. Jack Canfield. Just about every Expert or business book author you can name. Goals, goals, goals.
The Art of Wanting
Then a few years ago I stumbled across a few more pieces of the puzzle:
The Passion Test.
I’m a sucker for tests. Something about the specificity of those measured results, the pin-pointed information they promise. So alluring.
The test appeared in O Magazine one month. It didn’t really make any sense, so I bought the book. The book didn’t make much sense either, but I detected a hint of truth and held onto it, for later.
The premise was that we need to identify our passions, then rank them, and pursue them. It didn’t seem to ever get clear about how the authors defined “passion”, nor did it have a solid theory on how or why this mattered.
Danielle LaPorte, Fire +Desire
Enter Danielle. I forget how I found her, but once I did – there she was. Her site was still called White Hot Truth, and she had something to say.
She had a program called “The Spark Kit” (based on The Firestarter Sessions). She talked about the idea of Desire in the Kit, and on her blog.
In big bold letters, “HOW DO YOU WANT TO FEEL?”
I didn’t get it.
Looking back: How did I miss it?
Are Feelings More Powerful than Facts?
If you’d like some facts, please see The Amygdala, and Neuroeconomics. Our brains, (per my interpretation of this and other articles), access feelings when making decisions. Perhaps because it’s more efficient.
Our brains love efficiency. It would be fair to call them lazy, but also smart. Suffice it to say, emotions and feelings rule. Literally.
For many years I didn’t quite grasp the need to dive deeply into feeling. Missed the truth and information and exquisite power of tapping into the part of our brain that doesn’t speak in words or numbers. To hear the music and turn, not toward a decision of facts and figures, but toward a color or feeling or warmth.
Excel spreadsheets, information, and facts and figures all make me happy. So do colors, aesthetics (clean, rich, deep), and all things crafty and artsy. I’m a bit of an odd duck, I suppose. You could say I have very mixed feeling about feelings.
Luckily, you don’t have to be a woo-woo Feelings Ninja. No need to watch romantic movies or read poetry, if you don’t want to. Trust that it’s there. And in a future article I’ll address the best way(s) to access those feelings and make them part of your goal-setting process.
Suddenly it all made sense.
On second glance. After another reading, or five. And click, click, click. Puzzle pieces in place.
HOW DO YOU WANT TO FEEL?
Goals & Desire
My goals never felt right precisely because they lacked feeling. I was trying to put Things down on paper. Our brains don’t want Things.
How do I know, exactly? Good question! Just ask: “Why?”
Cheesecake & Decision-Making
Let me ask you a question:
Why do you like food?
Let’s take cheesecake for example. Vegan or gluten free, if you’d like.
You probably love the mouthfeel. The taste.
It’s firm, but yielding. Creamy. Dreamy.
Vanilla hits your palate, mid-chew. (Vanilla is one of those deeply linked ‘feeling flavors’. So home-y.).
Then crunchy crumbs of carmelized crust begin to announce their presence. And all of that loveliness lingers.
And damn if you don’t feel really satisfied.
Maybe decadent. A bit naughty. Full.
And, oh so Satisfied.
If we looked at the facts, who would choose to eat cheesecake?
We eat to experience a feeling. The pleasurable post-cheesecake bliss feeling is so strong it actually motivates us, moves us, to take action.
If feelings can move us to eat 1,110 calories-a-serving Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake, imagine the results of applying the power of Feelings to goal-setting.
Don’t Let a Lie Keep You From Living Your Gifts + Giving to the World
Would you believe it if I told you that the person lying to you is YOU?
This lie that many of us tell ourselves actually comes in two flavors, so let’s look at them both:
1. I don’t know what I want.
2. I don’t know what my strengths are.
Lie #1 can be really frustrating. Let’s be honest: you don’t want some smug entrepreneur/guru/celeb (who’s already living THEIR dream life!) telling you that you really do know what you want, do you? NO! Of course not. How dare they? They don’t know how long you’ve wracked your brain and metaphorically bashed your head against the wall trying to pull some fabulous life-affirming passion out of your brain. No, they have some cute little story about that one day when they suddenly realized (insert pat on the back here) that they knew what they wanted all this time and then BAM! their dream life began.
Make’s you wanna barf, doesn’t it?
But they’re right. If you know where to look you’ll find that you too already have the answers you need to take your life purpose to the next level.
There’s No Secret Formula
Lie #1 and Lie #2 are two variations of the same lie, and it goes something like this:
You aren’t very smart. You don’t know yourself. You CAN’T know yourself, unless you’re some sort of meditating, life force channeling guru. You’ve made the wrong choices in your life and you are far, far away from your right path.
Lucky for us these lies are a bunch of bovine poo. They also share the same easy solution:
Look at what you’re doing right now. What education and career path have you taken? What jobs have you taken (or not taken)? How do you interact with friends and family?
No matter where you are or what you’re up to right now you are already doing what you are meant to do in some form or fashion. In fact, in just about every area of your life holds clues to the next step of living your dream life.
We are designed to naturally and easily express our strengths.
It is absolutely, positively impossible for us NOT to express our gifts and affect the world around us. I really believe that, and you should too.
Part of what makes us wonderfully human is our inability to shut off our unique gifts and abilities. In fact, it’s precisely because we can’t turn these superpowers off that we know they are our strengths.
Your light was meant to shine. Put it under a basket and it will still make its way through the gaps.
Once you realize that you are always showing bits and pieces of your strengths you can start to actively take note of them and nourish them until they shine in every area of your life. We’ll talk more about the clues you should look for in your life or job in next the article.
Want to learn more about creating a life and biz that lets you share your brilliant light with the world?
Leave me a note below about the problems (or successes!) you’ve had in discovering your strengths.
When children grow very quickly they sometimes experience intense aches in their arms and legs (near growth plates, especially in their arm and leg bones). My two little ones are going through this right now, and it got me thinking:
Are ‘growing pains’ keeping me from moving on to bigger and better things?
Kids don’t have a choice when it comes to physical growth. Barring a medical condition they grow naturally and automatically and perfectly.
As adults, we DO get to choose whether or not to allow growth to shape and change our lives. However, this freedom of choice can backfire when we start to feel our own ‘growing pains.’
Pain is a universal red flag: it tells us to stop, or slow down. Our pampered, modern-life brains occasionally exaggerate our discomfort or confuse it with pain, causing us to make conservative and limiting decisions in order to quiet our internal warning system.
Your primitive early-warning system is JUST DOING ITS JOB! It’s sole purpose is to yell at you any time it thinks danger is near. Don’t forget that it’s not very sophisticated. It’s power lies in grabbing input you’re not even consciously aware of and amplifying it to catch your attention and keep you alive.
YOUR job is to assess the situation and make an informed executive decision.
To complicate things, we women have to factor in our use of intuition. Be it mommy instinct or just pure women’s intuition, we just KNOW things.
We get gut feelings about things like whether our child’s fever is serious, whether something is wrong in a relationship, or whether a job is right for us. But sometimes we can’t tell the difference between fear and intuition.
Sometimes we feel the discomfort of growth and unfamiliar territory and run off to a place that feels safer: The KNOWN. The tried-and-true.
Marie Forleo has a fantastic video about finding the difference between fear and intuition. Go watch it.
If you’re doing big work -and your life IS big work!- you’re going to feel some discomfort and fear.
Know that growth can be awkward and uncomfortable even when everything is going just right.