Goals & Feelings

Triumph & Exhilaration
photo credit: cliff1066™ via photopin cc


How Do Your Goals Feel?


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.


Oh. Oh!

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.

The Short Version:

Goal Setting + Feelings = Motivated Action

How do you want it all to feel?


Shaking up the old ideas around goal-setting has been so deep & impactful that I’ve begun creating a Workshop around it.

If you’d like to join me to explore a new way to see goal-setting and hang out on group-coaching calls, please see the Workshop Page here.

Growing Pains + Intuition

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.

Hear the fear, but don’t let it call the shots.