The creative power of “Why not?” Goal setting for the spiritually and psychologically savvy

by | May 29, 2011

Maybe, like me, you’re not in love with goal setting.

Perhaps you know that change is the only constant, so it seems short-sighted to assume that any goal setting you do today will line up with what you end up wanting tomorrow. And maybe acceptance is your middle name. You have no intention of setting a goal only to get into a tussle with the Universe when it doesn’t pan out.

Besides, you’re a renaissance person. There’s something inherently limiting and soul-destroying about reducing your multi-faceted vision to a set of goals. But…

…goal setting is part of creating. Should you stop creating just because you’re spiritually and psychologically savvy?

The power of “Why not?”

One of my teachers, Byron Katie, explains why she accepted Stephen Mitchell’s proposal this way.

“I thought about it, and I couldn’t see why not. So I said yes.”

At first that seemed pretty lame to me. And then I saw the freedom and beauty in it. Rather than cataloging reasons why and attaching to them, Katie looked to see if there was a reason why not. Not finding one, she went ahead.

“Why not?” came to represent for me the essence of choosing to create.
All things being equal, why not choose to create something extraordinary?

The ten year creative horizon

“Once you have mastered time, you will understand how true it is that most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year – and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade!” ~ Anthony Robbins

I’m not a big Tony Robbins fan, and I don’t know about “mastering time,” but I am certain he’s right about what you can achieve in a decade. Providing you envision it and ask, “Why not?”

Envisioning an extraordinary life and business is about the act of creation, or co-creation, if you will. It’s not about achievement for the sake of the ego, but rather about creation for the delight of the soul.

And why the heck not?

Creating is a path of full-engagement

Creating an extraordinary life a path of full engagement. It means committing to a vision and staying true to its spirit while dancing with constant change.

Playing full out while letting go of the results.

In other words, it takes commitment, focus, and flexibility and you could still fail.
Oh well!

Why not create anyway?

A creating process

Once you choose to play the creating game, it helps to know these rules of thumb.

  • Start with a long horizon.
  • Sketch the path with a broad brush.
  • Walk backwards.
  • Course correct forwards.

Start with a long horizon

Tony Robbins says most people under-estimate what they can accomplish in ten years. I suspect that’s because they confuse what they want to create with how they are going to do it.

“What?” is a question to answer with your creative eyes wide open. If your life could be any way you want it in 10 years, what would it look like?

Don’t get hung up at this stage on HOW you are going to create this life. Right now you are feeling into WHAT you want to create. You will figure out HOW to create it in the next steps.

I notice the participants in the Mastermind Group got shy when I asked this. Maybe you feel that way, too. So here are a few ingredients to seed your 10-year vision.

  • Travel
  • Philanthropy
  • Learning
  • Health and well-being
  • Spiritual practice
  • Time
  • Beauty
  • Art
  • Family
  • Friends

Imagine the kind of person you want to be when you grow up. Think about how you want to spend your time and relate to the world around you. Ask what kind of life would support those things. What would you need to be, do or have?

Sketch with a broad brush

As you imagine what you want to create over the next ten years, sketch with a broad brush.

Use words to involve your left-brain. You can write your description, speak it into a recorder. When writing, you can choose among sticky notes, a beautiful journal, a planning calendar, and a document on your computer. When speaking, experiment with sitting in your meditation corner or walking in a beautiful garden.

Choose a method that makes it easy and pleasant for you to get the words down.
Use pictures to involve your right-brain. Build a collage that expresses the way you want your life to look and feel. Sketch your vision using crayons or pastels to access childlike creativity and bypass the internal art critic.

Walk backwards

When your big picture feels complete, start backing up. Where would you need to be in five or seven years in order to create your 10-year vision?

Ask yourself:

  • In what ways will I need to have grown mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually?
  • How much would I be working? At what kinds of things?
  • What will I need to be earning?
  • What sources of income will help me earn that?
  • What will I be doing outside of work?
  • How will I know I’m on track?

Fill in the five or seven year picture (choose whichever one feels like the most natural intermediate step) as best you can. Again, don’t worry about how you are going to get there. Just describe as specifically as possible where you will need to be.
When the intermediate picture is clear, back up to three years, then two years, then one. As you move closer to the present, your picture of what needs to happen will become more clear and detailed.

Course correct forward

Begin living your one-year picture. Now is the time to think about HOW you are going to create your extraordinary life.

Working with a coach or Master Mind group, look at the various ways you can get from where you are to where you want to be at this time next year. Here are some questions to get you started:

  • What resources do I have for going where I want to go?
  • What steps can I take using those resources?
  • What new skills or capacities do I need to develop this year?
  • How can I develop those skills or capacities?
  • Who can I call on for help and encouragement?
  • What requests will I need to make?

As you take start moving toward your extraordinary life, you will encounter unexpected opportunities and obstacles. That’s why I say, “Course correct forward.”
Sometimes you’ll need to change your short-term plans. Sometimes you will discover that something in your two, three, or five year visions need to be tweaked. Keep your eye on what you want to create and adapt to changing circumstances.

In ten years, you’ll be amazed at the life you have created.