A while back I was working with one of my coaching groups on goal setting. They were asking questions like, “How big a goal do you set? Do you go for the moon, or do you set something safe, something you know you can do?”
Turns out, it’s not so much the size of the goal as its nature that is important.
The nature of a goal
The first thing to keep in mind is that the nature of a goal is to be a destination. It’s not the thing you get at the end of your journey; it’s the gestalt of who you will be, how you will see the world, and what will be available to you when you get there.
A good goal will stretch you. It will require you to grow in both ability and capacity. In order to achieve it you will need to become more skillful and more teachable.
And a good goal should be congruent with who you are and what you have to work with. It should align with your values and your deep inner knowing.
Three elements of right-sized goals
Setting goals requires deep listening as well as realistic assessment of where you are and what you have to work with. Here are three elements that, when you pay attention to them, will guide you to right-sized goals.
The elements are aspiration, receivability, and gratitude.
Aspiration is the hope, even the yearning, to be more than you are now. It begins deep inside and wells up with an insistent pulse, urging you to reach beyond your grasp.
You can feel the pulse of aspiration in your emotions and your body. There is a sense of longing, of desire. Aspiration can manifest as anticipation and enthusiasm. Sometimes it shows up as envy or sour grapes when we have not yet allowed ourselves to want what we want.
And sometimes it is a subtle stirring, a sense of divine dissatisfaction or wanting.
In the body, aspiration can show up as an upward tending sensation from the belly to the heart. It can feel as if your body is leaning forward, reaching out. You may have butterflies in your stomach.
All these manifestations signal that a goal is the right size.
You can only achieve what you can receive.
If the Universe is infinite possibility, there will always be more available to you than you can take in. At any given moment, you will be able to receive just so much material and spiritual profit.
This is not a problem, though sometimes abundance gurus seem to say that it is. It’s just the way of things. And calibrating your degree of receivability is essential to setting right-sized goals.
Here’s how to calibrate your degree of receivability. I’ll use setting an income goal as an example.
- Get quiet and turn your attention toward your breath. This will predispose you to listen to your inner knowing.
- Imagine that you have a lovely, long dragon tail unfurling from the base of your spine. With your legs, this marvelous tail makes a tripod, grounding, centering, and steadying you.
- Now imagine yourself expansive and open to receiving more income. If you feel blocked, make room for that and continue to invite a feeling of expansion.
- When you sense that you are open to receiving, let your mind wander among a range of incomes. As you do this, you will notice that some figures are too high. They leave you with a sense of vertigo. And the right range feels, well, just-right. It’s a bit of a stretch, outside what you’ve earned before. And you can imagine receiving it while remaining grounded and expanded.
That’s the degree of receivability that accompanies right-sized goals.
Gratitude is the alpha and omega of right-sized goal setting. It reminds us that we are not alone. We are not the source of what it takes to reach our goals, but the channel.
You know your goals are too big or too small if imagining them doesn’t fill you with gratitude. When they are too big, you feel the rush of an inflated ego. A kind of manic energy takes over and refuses to settle for anything less than extreme success.
When your goals are too small, you feel deflated. Uninspired. (Lacking the breath of Spirit.) No room for gratitude here.
But when your goals are just-right, you are right-sized. And that’s the sweet spot from which gratitude flows.
It’s an inside job
When you attend to these three elements of goal-setting, you will be marshaling both inner and outer resources. You’ll notice outside events that support your journey. You’ll experience inner growth that strengthens and nourishes you on the path.
There’s no telling how big your right-sized goal will be until you pay attention to aspiration, receivability, and gratitude. It could be much smaller or larger than you first anticipated. What is certain is that it will be squarely in the middle of what is possible for you at this place and time.
Photo Courtesy of: jamesmorton via Flickr