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Self-help books about goal achievement are all over the place. These books have made an enlightening impact on many people, sharing strategies for articulating, planning and reaching goals in a succinct, linear fashion. These books work. For some people.
by Marney K. Makridakis
I imagine you agree with me that we are very lucky to be living in a time in which so many fantastic authors are sharing their wisdom and insight with us. Like many idealistic people of this generation, I have been a pack rat of self-improvement books and tapes on the quest to be who I want to be. I've come to understand the ebb and flow of such a quest there are times when it is inspiring to devour all the material out there, and there are times to put the self-help stuff aside and read fiction, instead. And there are even times gasp to not read at all!
By reading these great books, we've learned about self-care, creativity, and comfort. We've learned about alternative healing, the roots of spirituality, and the depths of synchronicity. But personally, I have always struggled with the paradigm presented in many of the "goal setting" books out there.
All those impressive books with inspiring anecdotes and step-by-step advice for achieving goals are out there, lining shelves like tantalizing cookies in rows. Why didn't they work for me? I kept looking for the right Formula For Success, wanting to follow suit of so many others who got these techniques to work. I guess what I needed was a book on "goal-planning for the right brained and scatter-brained", and I couldn't find it.
As with most of our journeys, I didn't have to find a book to learn something that my own imagination already knew. One day, I was listening to someone speak about the importance of creating "laser-focused" goals, and the thought occurred to me that perhaps what I needed was just the opposite.
Instead of reaching for my goals with a laser beam, perhaps a better image for me was a sun beam. I needed to reach in many different directions, all at once. Trying to channel my vision into a direct line of specific actions and benchmarks felt limiting, oppressive, and confusing to me. Perhaps I didn't need to force my energy in one single, perfectly-honed direction. Maybe all I needed to do was simply shine
and trust that forces greater than myself would take care of exactly where the light fell.
The most significant manifestation of this shift was altering my focus from what I wanted to create in the world to what I wished to create in myself and immediate environment. Whereas the old books had instructed me to "be direct" as I focused on a goal, I found that "be dreamlike" worked better for me.
I found myself in a state of perpetual brainstorming, freely asking dreamy questions of myself: How could I bring more joy into my life? How could I be more aware of my gifts? When did I feel the most elevating sense of generosity and sharing? How could I bring more of these sharing opportunities into my life? It is the answers to these questions, not the results of specific goal-oriented actions, that have propelled me forward. I find I enjoy the journey all the more for not knowing exactly where I'll end up.
Instead of "be specific" in the steps to achieving a goal, I embraced "be spontaneous". I am learning to be good buddies with my gut and share rendezvous with my intuition. I used to view my multi-faceted interests as a weakness, feeling like the consummate "jack of all trades, master of none." Now I understand that this diversity is, in fact, what makes my heart happy. My spontaneity allows each little sprouting dream of mine to improvise its own song, and my heart holds all the music like a chorus.
Instead of "measuring by milestones", I found great relief in "morphing from mistakes". The old paradigm I tried so desperately to follow instructed me to take the next step once I had reached a pre-set milestone. What now works for me is to take a step in a new direction when something doesn't work. I aim to follow my energy where it takes me until it doesn't feel good any more. Then I pivot and progress another way. Without milestones that I'm trying to reach, the dreaded f-word (failure) is out of the picture. Mistakes are simply the micro-tears in the muscle of my spirit, willing and able to grow back stronger than before.
In looking ahead, I don't really know where I want to be, but I have a pretty sharp view of WHO I want to be. Where I'll end up is no more limited than the endless tangles of the sun.
Click here for more information about Marney's e-course "Goalar Energy: A Unique Guidance Program for Extraordinary Action".