Possibly the trickiest part of getting what you want in life is just figuring out what you really want!
And yet it is certainly the most important part of all.
In my own life I have found that once I have a clear, strong intention to create something, it often happens quickly and easily.
I experience this as a kind of “click” in my consciousness, when I suddenly get a very strong experience of what I want, and an equally strong experience that I’m going to get it. . . .
It usually takes a certain amount of time and energy spent in processing before I arrive at that point of clarity.
And very often the “click of clarity” has been preceded by feelings of confusion, despair, hopelessness, and so on, which I have had to work my way through. So don’t worry...the darkest hour is truly just before the dawn.
The most extreme example of this in my own life was the ten-year process of deep emotional healing that I went through in order to get clear about my intention to find my life partner.
Although I thought I was ready for this to happen, I discovered that I had much deep fear and ambivalence. Once I was able to acknowledge these feelings consciously, and work with healing my fears and old emotional patterns, my intention became clear. Three weeks later, I got together with the man who is now my husband!
Discovering what you want in your life can be facilitated by the process of setting goals.
I often find it helpful to do some exercises with pen and paper, which I share with you here.
When you are working on setting goals it’s important to keep a few things in mind.
Remember that setting goals does not mean that you are stuck with those goals. You can change them as often as you want to and feel that it’s necessary.
Remember also that setting goals does not mean that you have to pursue them through excess effort, striving, or struggling.
It does not mean that you have to become emotionally addicted to achieving them. On the contrary, setting goals can help you flow through life more easily, effortlessly, and pleasurably.
The nature of life is movement and creativity, and goals give you a clear focus and direction in which to channel your natural creative energy.
This helps you to outflow and contribute to the world, which enhances your feeling of well-being and satisfaction in life. Goals are there to help you and support you in your true purpose.
Goals can be made in the spirit that life is an enjoyable game to be played, and one that can be deeply rewarding. They are not to be taken too heavily or seriously. At the same time, you must give them enough weight and importance so they are of real value to you.
You may find that the very process of choosing goals brings up a certain amount of emotional resistance in you.
You might experience this in various different ways, such as feeling depressed, hopeless, or overwhelmed at the thought of trying to set goals. Or you might feel the desire to distract yourself by eating, sleeping, or other activities.
These emotional reactions (if you should have them) are clues to the ways in which you avoid getting what you want in life.
It’s important to go ahead and experience these feelings and reactions, to go through them, and proceed with the process. Once you get into it you will find it of value.
Then again, you may thoroughly enjoy the whole process and find it very expansive, fun, and enlightening. I hope so!
Don’t make the choosing of goals too complicated or significant.
Start with simple, obvious things. Remember you can always change and develop them as you go along.
1. Sit down with a pen and paper and write down the following categories:
Now, keeping in mind your present life situation, write down under each category some things that you would like to have, to change, or to improve upon in the near future. Don’t think too hard about it; simply write down any ideas that come to your mind as good possibilities.
The purpose of this exercise is to loosen you up and get you thinking about what you want in the various areas of your life.
2. Take another piece of paper and write at the top: “If I could be, do, and have everything I want, this would be my ideal scene.”
Now list the same seven categories and, after each one, write a paragraph or two (or however much you want!) describing your absolute ideal situation in life, as far as you can fantasize about it.
The purpose of this exercise is to stretch and expand you beyond your present limits, so let your imagination take over, and really let yourself have everything you could ever want.
When you have finished this, add one more category — World situation/environment.
Describe the kinds of changes you would like to see happen in the world in your lifetime, if you could have the power to change things — world peace, the end of poverty, people becoming conscious of one another and the earth, living in harmony with nature, schools transformed into exciting learning centers, hospitals becoming true centers of healing, and so on.
You can be as creative as you like with this category, and you may find that you have all kinds of interesting ideas you never thought of before.
Now reread the whole thing and meditate on it awhile. Create a mental picture for yourself of a wonderful life in a beautiful world.
3. Again, take a fresh sheet of paper. Based on what seems most meaningful from the ideal scene you have created above, write a list of the ten or twelve most important goals for your life, as you feel them to be right now.
Remember that you can change and revise this list at any time (and you should do so from time to time).
4. Now write down “My Five-Year Goals,” and list the most important goals you would like to achieve within the next five years.
It’s great to write your goals in the form of affirmations, as if they have already been achieved. This helps to achieve a clearer, stronger effect.
I now own and live on twenty acres of land in the country, with a beautiful house, orchards, a creek, and lots of animals.
I now support myself easily and abundantly through leading seminars and giving speeches to enthusiastic and appreciative audiences.
In writing your goals, be sure to put down things that are real and meaningful to you, things that you actually want, not what you think you should want.
No one else need ever see your goals unless you want them to, and this process requires that you be totally honest with yourself.
5. Repeat the process above with your goals for one year.
Don’t make too many; if you have a lot at first, eliminate all but the five or six most important ones. Check to see that they are in alignment with your five-year goals. That is, make sure they are moving in the same general direction so that when you accomplish your one-year goals, you will be a step closer to your five-year goals.
For example, if one of your five-year goals is to own your own business, one of your one-year goals might be to have a certain amount of money saved toward that end, or to have a job in a similar business where you are getting a certain type of experience you will need.
Now write out your goals for six months from now, one month, and one week from now. Again, keep it simple and choose the three or four that are most important to you. Be realistic about how much you can accomplish in the shorter-range goals. Again, make sure they are in alignment with your longer-range goals.
You may find it difficult to be so specific about events so far in the future, and you may have an uncomfortable feeling about planning ahead. However, just making a plan does not oblige you to follow it; in fact, you are bound to change considerably.
This exercise is for the purpose of:
1. Getting practice in setting goals.
2. Acknowledging that some of your fantasies can become reality if you wish them to.
3. Getting in touch with some of the important purposes and directions in your life.
I suggest that you keep your goals in your notebook. Every now and then, perhaps every few months or so, or whenever it feels like a helpful thing to do, sit down with your notebook and do some of the processes again, revising and reshaping your goals as needed.
Be sure to date your paper each time you do this, and keep your lists in order in your notebook, as it is very interesting and informative to look back and see how they gradually evolve.
Some General Rules
1. For short-range goals (one week, one month) be fairly simple and realistic — choose things that you are pretty sure you can accomplish, unless you especially feel like taking on a big challenge (which can be very good sometimes).
The more long-range your goal, the more expansive and imaginative you can be, so that your horizons are constantly extended.
2. When you find that you have not accomplished some of your goals (which will inevitably happen), do not criticize yourself or assume that you have failed.
Simply acknowledge clearly to yourself that you have not accomplished that goal, and decide whether or not it is still a goal for you; that is, decide whether you want to set it again for yourself, or whether you want to let it go. It is most important that you acknowledge unaccomplished goals in this way.
Otherwise, they may accumulate in the back of your mind and you will feel unconsciously that you have “failed,” which will eventually make you tend to avoid the goal-setting process.
3. When you find that you have accomplished a goal, even a small one, be sure to acknowledge yourself for that.
Give yourself a pat on the back and enjoy at least a moment of satisfaction about it. All too often, we accomplish our goals and forget to even notice or enjoy the fact that we have done so!
4. Don’t take on too much at once.
Set goals that feel good to you.
If you feel overwhelmed, confused, or discouraged . . . simplify. You may want to work on goals in one area of your life only, such as your job or your relationships. This process is ultimately to help you enjoy your life more.
If you set a lot of goals that you don’t accomplish you may be setting them unrealistically high, or setting goals that you don’t truly desire and therefore have no real inner intention of pursuing. Choose goals that you genuinely like and want, and are realistic for you.
If you consistently feel blocked in pursuing or achieving your goals, you may have some unconscious patterns stopping you.
I recommend finding a good therapist or support group to help you do some emotional healing work. We all need help and extra sup- port at times.
Remember, too, that there is a time to set goals and a time to let them go. Just trust the flow of your life to get you where you need to go.
About the author
Shakti Gawain is a bestselling author and a pioneer in the field of personal growth and consciousness. The 40th Anniversary edition of her classic work Creative Visualization: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Life, was recently published by New World Library.
Visit her online at www.shaktigawain.com.