the art of setting goals

Today we ask that you relax around the concept of “goals” and “getting somewhere.”

In life, it is good to have positive goals. However, if the attachment to reaching these goals causes unhealthy stress in your life, then the goal-setting is not positive. Indeed, if it is too stressful, than you run the risk of sabotaging your efforts completely.

It is good to think of achieving goals in light of the game of golf.

In golf, the goal is clear: the ball must go into the next hole, preferably with a minimal number of attempts to hit it there.

A skilled golfer, before hitting the ball, usually has a very clear sense of where he desires the ball to land. One might say that he has set a very clear intention.

So — he hits the ball. And then reality intervenes. Sometimes the ball goes where he wishes. Often it lands elsewhere. Sometimes it lands in an easy place. Sometimes it lands in a difficult place.

The most skillful golfers do not feel crushed or disheartened by “failure.” Instead, they move to the next position, and ground themselves completely within the new reality. 

If the golfer must now hit the ball out of the sand, so be it. A new intention is set.

Ideally, the golfer is also enjoying the journey. He takes time to appreciate the trees, grass, and sky. He remains present, and grounded with whatever arises.

This is a very good approach to life.

One sets intentions. One has clear, positive goals. You would like the ball to go into the hole with as few strokes as possible.

But you accept that reality may intervene.

When the ball goes elsewhere, you are very fluid and adaptive. Okay, the ball is in the rough. You adjust and ground yourself within that new situation — whatever it is. You set a new intention.

When it is time to hit the ball, you are fully present. You are not thinking about your to-do list. You are not thinking about all the other holes ahead of you. Only the next hole before you.

Along the way, you are mindful and appreciative. If the weather is pleasant, enjoy that. Even if the weather is not pleasant, there is always something beautiful to see when you are outdoors.

This is the way to set goals and intentions. You know what you wish for. But you are fluid, and adaptive. You are mindful, grounded, and present.

You enjoy the journey as much as the destination.

This will take most of the stress out of goal-setting. Which, in turn, will give you much more power and skill in the process of creation.

For those of you who believe in any kind of higher power or benevolent awareness underlying reality, it is also very good to give over your goals to that power. It takes the goals out of the grip of your limited ego. This will also greatly reduce any stress around goal-setting.