You’re having a cup of coffee with a friend. She tells you that her goal is year is raise $2500 for the charity of her choice. You respond by saying “wow, that’s so great and inspiring! Good for you.” Then you leave the coffee date thinking to yourself ‘I feel like there’s a goal straight ahead of me but it feels slippery, like I don’t really know how to say the goal in a way that it really speaks to me–that the goal really is exactly what I want in the first place.’ Why is it that we shimmy up sideways to goal setting? Here’s my super fast pop-psychology based answer: because when we set a clear goal then our intention is clear: we have to make changes that have us achieve our goal. The goal is a declaration of what you’re willing to do to have a different result show up. That means embracing change, embrancing the unknown and putting our comfort at risk by stepping out into territories unknown.
The picture I used is from the Sistine Chapel’s “The Creation of Adam” by Michalangeo because I believe with each new declaration, we create a world. Everytime we speak a goal (and one we genuinely intend to do not one that’s set to make someone else happy) we speak a new creation into being. Of course, some creations are not long lived, some creations are more like Frankenstein (a story of creation and unintended consequences) and then there’s the ones that have legs. Real legs that take us from here to there. That change the way we live our lives. The real source of inspiration and change.
Now, I can see why you shimmy up sideways to that big goal–the one that is at root a source that will drive you in ways that you hadn’t imagined and one that you know can be a game changer. This makes safety a precarious stone on our pathway and the thought that we might be encountering risk along the way makes goals seem dangerous for some. Remember, the risk is worth taking if the vision of the future that is driving the goal is one that resonates deeply with you. When we see the future that beckons us and the goal aligns with that, the drive comes to create from deep within us. We are willing to travel down the path of the unknown because the strength of the vision overshadows our self concern.