Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing five teachings on “Awakened Goal Setting” based on what I’ve learned working with thousands of people (including myself) who want to realize their deepest dreams, live with joyful authenticity, and create what matters.
I hope this series helps you set goals that nourish your life of awakening gratitude, creativity, and service. (Because we don’t need more resolution overwhelm…do we?)
Lesson 1: Awakened Goal Setting.
Ending burnout, confusion, and overwhelm.
We used to have an apple tree in our backyard. It produced fruit that was a wonderful balance of tart and sweet. But one season—no apples. Over a period of months, the leaves shriveled. Then I found it one morning toppled over on the ground. Gophers had chewed through the roots. The fruit of life comes from being rooted.
It’s true for a tree, and it’s true for you and me.
But what does it mean for us to be rooted?
Being rooted means being connected to the sacred values that nourish your soul and animate your life purpose. Your connection to these sacred values are the source of passion and purpose in your life.
When you’re connected to and embodying sacred values, your life has an intrinsic sense of meaning and purpose.
Then, even if you’re physically tired, you’re not exhausted—you’re tired and happy. There’s a bone-deep satisfaction that comes from allowing the energy and inspiration of sacred values to move through you into the world. Because sacred values aren’t abstractions.
Sacred values aren’t ideas.
Sacred values aren’t dry, abstract concepts. They are living energies, qualities of the soul. And while it is important to name your sacred values, to reflect upon them, and to understand them—understanding is no substitute for embodiment.
Sacred values are living, breathing, energetic qualities that seek embodiment in and through your life.
When you’re connected to sacred values, you’re rooted in the fertile, life-enriching ground of the soul. But, what happens if you’re cut off from your sacred values?
Life becomes…well, lifeless.
The meaning, purpose, energy, and juice drain away. You’re left with an empty form of your life. All the structures are there, all the activities—but you’re just going through the motions. It’s all surface and no depth. All form, no roots.
Which brings us back to the gophers.
When your life is rootless, it’s not the gophers’ fault.
Most people don’t point at little furry critters with sharp teeth when their life becomes lifeless. They point at people—parents, partners, bosses, co-workers, and so on. It’s the people in your life that can appear as though they’re the ones who are chewing through your roots—toppling your tree. It seems like they’re the gophers. But, it’s not true.
You are your own gopher.
I am too. It’s not the world that is exhausting you. It’s your own disconnection from sacred values. The world isn’t gnawing away at the roots of your soul; you are. And it’s exhausting.
Please note: if you haven’t had a good night’s sleep for days, take a nap. Get rested. Eat a good meal and sleep some more. If you wake up clear and connected, that was the issue: sleep deprivation. But if napping, sleeping, nutrition, and exercise don’t do the trick, if you’re still exhausted and rootless after all that, the rest of this article is for you.
The way back to your roots is to be whole-hearted.
Whole-heartedness is a practice of turning toward your sacred values and breathing them into your body and mind—into your life. The practice starts with investigation and discernment because your sacred values have appeared in your life many times.
There are clues—glimmerings—of your sacred values in your personal history.
Many spiritual teachers tell us to get beyond our personal history and to stop dwelling on “the story of me.” These teachers are half-right. Identification with the surface events of personal history is limiting.
But, there are sacred treasures hidden within the story of your life. Those treasures include your sacred values. How do you reclaim these treasures?
You find them by digging deeper into the spiritual energies that are encoded within the events of your life.
Your sacred values have appeared throughout your life: in times of spiritual opening, at moments of creative flow, when you were in the zone, in love, in awe—and also in despair. Yes, the sacred values have been present at the peaks and in the valleys. They have made themselves known to you whenever you’ve opened up to them.
When you felt connected to life in a way that was so deeply affirming, profoundly simple, and ultimately real that you just knew—not as thought, but in an embodied way—that your life is part of, and not apart from, the sacred.
That memory is a reminder of what is always present.
Feel your way into what matters most.
The body is a more reliable guide when it comes to returning to your sacred values than your mind. There will be a positive, energized feeling in your body as you connect to your sacred values. And while it will be a fresh, ever-new experience, it will be thoroughly familiar. Your sacred values have been with you all along. The revelation isn’t in finding something new.
It’s in whole-heartedly embracing that which feeds your life.
Embracing is, as the word suggests, an act of tenderness and love. Whole-heartedness is more about gratitude than grandiosity.
As you return to the roots of your soul, be gentle.
Open your arms, open your heart, and take in that which has been waiting for you in the depths of your being.
As you open to your sacred values, they open to you.
For while these sacred values—and the spirit of life itself—wants nothing more than to be realized, embodied, and fulfilled in you, the holy will never force you to be more blissful, powerful, or awakened than you choose.
Yes, you get to choose.
Between gopher and God. Between struggling with life and riding the current of power and bliss encoded into your sacred values.
You enter this current by being vulnerable, open, and receptive.
Connect to your roots, to your sacred values, and then set your goals.
Realize and Embody in Four Steps:
Where have your sacred values shone through in your life?
Remember and name a few of these times.
Feel these memories…feel them now in your body.
Then give name to the sacred values that you feel. The names are usually simple words with deep resonance, such as clarity, love, compassion, strength, abundance, spirit, mastery, or joy.
Let go of the memory, and gently repeat the name of one of your sacred values. Allow the remembrance of that name to open you more deeply to the experience of that sacred value—as a living presence.
Doing this work with others is a powerful enabler of Awakened Goal Setting.
Share your reflections, insights, questions, revelations with a community of sincere souls here.
To receive the rest of the Awakened Goal Setting teachings, subscribe here.
Author: Eric Klein
Images: Author’s own
Editor: Travis May
Copy Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
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