What is more powerful? What brings your dreams closer to your reality? Setting Goals or the Art of Telling Your Story?
Here we are again, late January and finally passed the hoopla about resolutions and guilty goal setting. Home, office, routines, pressures, conversations and gnarly self-talk add up to conformity. Conforming to our old, good enough and still loved patterns doesn’t feel so bad after all. Patterns we followed before all those aspirational goals tickled possibility for a few seconds.
Some people recoil at the idea of “goal setting”.
We were a talented team of 25 women working in the high-end service atmosphere of an independent resort spa. I was leading. We held monthly business development and company culture meetings. We ironed out new systems, solutions and tried rather successfully to banish distracting drama from our shared world. Our January meeting included mission statement review and business goals.
To some folks “goal” is just another 4 letter word.
Just the mention of our need to achieve certain goals would cause our otherwise poised and gracious group to roll back their eyes in what looked like Samadhi, but wasn’t. “Not again, not again, isn’t this meeting over yet?” painfully traced across otherwise lovely faces.
Goal has something to do with posts, winning and losing. Goal doesn’t feel organic. I’m not saying that having goals is a bad idea it’s simply that they can lose their power, your story doesn’t.
A classic book, and one of the best, on the subject of human possibility is The Art of Possibility: Transforming Personal and Professional Life. Authors Benjamin and Rosamund Zander broached the idea of opening the hearts and minds of their students to dream fulfillment (i.e. “goal achievement”) with Story. Story? Exactly. The students were welcomed with an assignment: Write a letter (story) that begins Dear Mr. Zander, I got an A because….
The students had to write (reveal) their own story. Marvelous, moving, visionary.
Everybody is talking about the Power of Story to heal, lead, and unify.
There’s mounting evidence that the art and power of personal story is at the heart of everything we call success, fulfillment and accomplishment. Story also plays a role in war, disease, and environmental destruction. Rummage around your life and you might find your own evidence.
When I first met my husband he shared a methodology for accomplishment: For 45 days write in your journal exactly what you desire to create in your life and why. Be very precise and detailed. Write it exactly the same everyday. I did that and totally forgot about it. One day, 10 years later I was organizing my work space –old files, photos, books, and journals. I thumbed through a navy blue spiral bound journal and found those pages with my dream story. Astonishing! My life included exactly what I had written so long ago.
The Space Between Stories
In his marvelous must read book, The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible, Charles Eisenstein writes about the “space between stories”. It’s the space where we were living in one story and then something happens and a new story is required. We can’t see it. We’re not sure. We’re lost. We might be suffering from shock or trauma as a result of what happened. Near death feelings from a close call, diagnosis, death of a loved one, loss of home, job or place in the world drops us into a space between stories. Sometimes even the “celebration” of a big birthday, the beginning of a new year,or our failure to set and keep resolutions and goals can jolt us into that space between stories. Climate change is our shared need for a new story, a new interbeing story. Charles articulates the old story that humanity is living – a painfully broken relationship with Earth. He points to the elements of a new story of interbeing that is drawing us in countless ways. It’s a feeling. It’s a good feeling.
Begin writing your own new story today.
Here’s one method to start the process:
Give some quality time and undistracted attention toward writing a letter to your family and/or friends. Date it December 31, 2015. In it describe what and why 2015 turned out to be. Be imaginative, try not to edit, let it unfold on paper.
Read it as often as you wish and fully embody what you have described.
At some point you may decide to put it in a safe place and set up a reminder to read it next December.
You can also seal it, envelope and address it, give it to a trusted, organized friend who agrees to return it to you in a year. It’s a lovely process to do with a close friend who entrusts their letter to you.
You might find as others have that the art and power of your new story supercedes the power of goal setting because your story is an experience of life you live into rather than something you reach for.
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More on the Story of Story:
NY TIMES Recent Studies.