After nearly 12 months of translating pre-written chapters into my actual living, breathing days. I am being asked to lay out an outline to script the rest of my story. I guess I should be ready by now to set the stage and jump into the next 12 chapters. After this intense programming of attempting to let go fully – living the part of the abiding protagonist, am I ready to take back the director’s chair and orchestrate some independence? I believe Elizabeth is prepping me to do so whether I am ready or not.
Last September I was given a similar challenge from chapter writer Amy Dehuff. While exploring my existential existence, Amy’s questions and tasks unfolded each week similar to this concluding June chapter. Her requests drew me deeper into the difficult and revealing questions of the what, why and how I choose to navigate my way on my path. Both writers laid out specific guidelines and instructions on how to arrive at potential answers simply by asking me to set guidelines, directions or goals to define where I was going.
In September, Amy blatantly requested that I make a 1 year, 5 year and 10 “life plan” as a way to direct my path. This week Elizabeth asks me to state or name 12 goals in which I would like to accomplish in the upcoming 12 years. A bucket list of sorts?
For some reason both of these requests (although simple, and helpful) bring up a serious amount of resistance for me. For some reason I have always responded poorly to the notion of setting specific goals (or making the checklist of life) to lead my choices.
The business dictionary defines the word goal as being “An observable and measurable end result having one or more objectives to be achieved within a more or less fixed timeframe.” There really is something about the words “end result” and “fixed timeframe” that make my skin crawl. Maybe this is why I have dodged the process of setting goals. To me if feels like traveling with a set agenda or cooking with a specific recipe; there is not much room for spontaneity or creativity.
But where is this intense resistance coming from is it the “measurable end result” that makes me nervous or the achievement expected in a more or less “fixed timeframe” that makes me uncomfortable? Defining a completion has never been my forte. I am not sure if it is the fear of negating all the potential opportunities and open avenues that inevitably arrive along the way. (fear of commitment?) Or if it’s really just a fear failing (or worse yet succeeding and concluding!) arriving at the final end destination? (hmmm…fear of death?)
Either way, even with these rooted fears, I am not opposed to setting goals and am not unaware of the benefits of doing so. I’ve had no problem in the past working hard or working towards defined outcomes. Recently though, I have realized that setting intentions has become much more valuable, illuminating and important to me. Looking, not at the far-flung future, but giving myself daily dose reminders of who and how I want to BE rather than where I am going to go and what I want to DO has brought new confidence and clarity to me.
I believe strongly in stating intentions – even writing them down. Desires are really only dreams unless we visualize and physically live and breathe them into action. Spending the time to write or state them directly manifests movement into the world making it real. I believe in the true power behind consciously doing this. Maybe that is what I am really afraid of? The true power of manifesting what we actually desire into being!? These few quotes keep echoing in my brain:
“Ask and you shall receive” – “Be careful what you ask for” – “If you build it they will come”
So why do I allow resistance to block my path when I can let it flow freely through me and just finish this chapter challenge? If I learned anything through this project, it has been to closely examine resistance as a means to confront and conquer fears. Sitting with and in discomfort helps me understand what it is that is holding me back and what it is that could project me forward.
My core philosophy believes that yes it is important to set goals but first feel strongly about and see clearly what the intentions behind those goals are. Examine and sit with that resistance! Is it coming from an external place or an internal source. If I allow a goal to guide my way – it needs to come from within and grow with intention – not be pushed by external expectation.
In my response to life planning in September I stated these “goals”:
- Create and nourish positive relationships
- Do meaningful and useful work
- Learn, create, and explore new things
- Be adaptable to changing environments and new opportunities
Within 10 years I stated my life plan to “exit ambition and move to meaning”. An ambitious task at hand! I guess I best get busy this next decade cultivating a mindful practice toward creation of meaning while working through and out any last seeds of ambition that have been planted along my path. It seems I need to get busy pacing out my personal pursuit schedule and decide on the balance between how I really want to be and what is really important to do. I am hoping the following two lists of my 12 intentions and 12 goals will help guide me.
- Love: self, life partner, family/children, friends, community
- Meditate: center, balance, listen, be in the present
- Write: blog, book, letters, articles
- Share: talks, workshops, radio interviews
- Absorb: listen and learn all that I have space for, nature, knowledge, energy
- Create: spaces, art, music, food
- Move: dance, hike, walk, swim, be in fluid motion
- Focus: hone skills in writing, marketing, media, organize ideas and projects
- Connect: nourish and create relationships
- Collect: stories, audio, and images,
- Explore: natural landscape, cityscape, new territory
- Live intently: choose and abide to lifestyle choices
Just finding this blog today? Read the prologue for more details on what Living Chapters is all about. Check out the Chapter Summaries Page to get caught up to date.