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I have a long standing relationship with goal setting. I’d like to think it goes all the way back to elementary school, perhaps grade five when we started to get ‘letter grades’ on our report cards. Having a goal was something that I talked about with my parents frequently, whether it was letter grade related or to do with my next soccer game or upcoming figure skating competition. I was always planning, studying and looking ahead to the next challenge. Describing me as a type ‘A’ child would be an understatement.
This desire for achievement continued for the next decade or so. I worked hard to get scholarships, and to continue on to University. Looking back now, I know my challenge was that I didn’t enjoy the pressure I put on myself in the majority of these circumstances. Sure, getting good grades and playing on many different sports teams provided amazing lessons and memories, but I remember being quite stressed growing up.
Around the time I graduated from University, my entire life landscape changed. Gone were the exams, lab tests and papers. Gone were the figure skating competitions and skills tests.
I went off to work in the real world at retail giant Lululemon Athletica, and as a part time personal trainer and fitness instructor around the city of Calgary, gaining experience for what I really wanted to do which was create a career in the fitness industry. When I started out folding yoga pants at Lululemon, we had a suggested reading list of personal development books to supplement our work. I was back in my haven of achievement, trying to get better, setting physical goals and running marathons while reading ‘Goals’ by Brian Tracy and ‘Pour Your Heart Into It’ by Howard Schultz.
But this time it was different. We could call it maturity, although I don’t actually think I was that mature at the time. I had grown tired of my old, tried, tested and true way of achieving things. I was over being stressed all the time and pushing myself to tears, exhaustion and emotional instability.
The next decade was like a back and forth tug of war of me shedding my old type A habits, and trying to find a new, more satisfying way of striving for positive growth. What is the point of going for a goal if you’re just going to stress the hell out of yourself the whole way? Why not seek enjoyment in the process and go for what you want?
Just over a year ago I found one of the most transformational tools that has helped me on this path. I purchased The Desire Map from Vancouver author Danielle LaPorte and was immediately hooked on the idea of creating ‘goals with soul’ as Danielle calls them.
The Desire Map came with me to Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Bali. I spilled lemongrass tea on it and smudged red wine off the cover. I wrote in pencil when I wasn’t feeling confident and in red pen when I wanted to believe in what I was writing.
Sometimes there are books or movies or speeches that strike a cord inside you and get you to live your life a little differently. This is one of those books for me. There are more pages with the corners folded over than not. I learned to identify my Core Desired Feelings and these influence the goals I make, jobs I take and workout schedule I follow.
I now know I want to feel Freedom, Compassion, Strong and Grateful…my Core Desired Feelings! Here is a little teaser for you to get a feel of what my goal setting looks like these days.
The irony is not lost on me that the straight A girl who cried when she got her first ‘B’ on a report card is moving away from quantification and striving for quality of life. It is just as surprising that the stressed out kid who worried constantly is finding joy in the journey, not only the destination.
Sure, many of you will say this way of going for your goals is too woo-woo, and that is all good too. There is more than one path for each of us to follow, but I know that this one feels so good. So today, when you are sweating in the gym, eating your veggies and practicing compassion towards yourself and others, ask yourself, am I enjoying what I have taken on in this very moment? Or am I only doing this to arrive at a made up destination?
To a journey that feels good along the way, have a glorious week and don’t forget to grab your copy of The Desire Map for a fabulous way to go deep with your goals. I have given this book as a gift to a few of my closest friends and they love it!