The space around our goals

“I once walked the six miles from my house to Kent Lake in less than four hours, but that wasn’t my best time. My personal best is eight hours and fifteen minutes. That includes time resting with a lizard sunning on the rocks; writing down a dream remembered starting at Mt. Barnabe; listening to woodpecker knock herself against the tree that harbors osprey’s nest.” Jack Kornfield cites friend-poet Barbara Ruth.)

When I read these words, I did a double-take. I can get so caught up in getting things done, goals to reach. And I know I am not alone. We all have objectives, outcomes to strive for, time tables with consequences when ignored. Yet here is someone who savors momentary sensations and thoughts, delights in slowing down - while she still has a goal in mind.  

Is this the unique privilege of a few? I no longer think so. We tend to place an enormous social and cultural value on reaching our goals, ideally with maximum efficiency; we hang our personal identity onto them, map strict strategies, build grit. Our society expects we have goals. We expect them. When we don’t reach them, we experience failure, disappointment, shame. But is this approach in our best interest?

It is possible that we miss out on all that occurs in the space beyond our focused strategies, on all that is invisible to a mind that limits itself to a future that doesn’t exist: The sunning lizard and the osprey's nest. The reflection that reveals insight. Space for creativity or wonder. The deliciousness of being. It is possible that we miss out on life as it happens, the living experience of happiness, the truth of thriving. The truth of our humanity. 

credit: linda xu |

credit: linda xu |

It is even possible that we miss out on an outcome that far surpasses the goal we had originally in mind. Because our ability to meet the moment just as it is affects our thinking. Great results anchor in relationship with what is occurring. Great results anchor in our willingness to lean into each moment with the clarity of spaciousness. “We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them,” said Albert Einstein. 

For me at least, here is a challenge: I would like to live as if the finish lines of my goals occur in the spaces underneath my feet. So I can listen to the heartbeat of these spaces and respond with flexibility. Let's you and I become attentive to who we become in this freedom. It's an invitation to shift focus - into relationship, exploration, noticing. From reaching goals to living intentions. With open, fluid mind. (Chances are, when we dare to step into such new levels of being, we just might reach our goals as side effects: We might even have fun.) To live by this is trust.

What if I stretch this challenge? What if my finish line is my departure point and is knowing that I already have all that I seek? That I am enough and things as they are are enough? That there is no need for any seeking at all? Seriously. For me, to live by this is living gratitude. 

So, what if, at least once in a while, and very humbly so, we make it a habit to "partake in the “art of roaming” without an aim or plan," as practical philosopher Andrew Taggart writes. "By caring about work a little less, we can afford ourselves experiences of what is truly meaningful, and let us rest for a while in the unfolding present," he says. 

I am not advocating that we abandon goals. Yet the question we all must face sooner or later is, what is the point of any goal if we can't figure out how to value the journey? What is the point of pre-defined metrics of success if we can't be open to the inevitability of insights along the way, to deeper layers of truth? Can we quietly - intentionally - bear witness to our very own lives? 

Here is Maria Popova of Brainpickings in an interview with Krista Tippett "Waking up and being excited and curiously restless to face the day ahead, and being very present with that day, and then going to bed feeling like it actually happened, that the day was lived. I mean, there's nothing more than that, really."

Success becomes very simple then. 

Thanks as always for reading this post. Liked it? Please browse the website, drop me a line to say hello, forward to others. And do explore if coaching might be right for you: Because, yes, when you work with me, you will create results that far surpass the goals you had originally in mind: Coaching is a commitment to step into the space of possibility, of all that you already are and can live. 
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