The In’s and Out’s of Setting Goals

It’s the start of a new year, and I really wanted to write a post about goal setting, because I love goal setting…and goal getting…and goal planning and…pretty much all of it. But I couldn’t write the post.

Believe me, I tried. I started. I stopped. I wrote and rewrote…but I could.not.write.the.damn.post.

And I think it’s because it’s not really resonating with me this year, because as much as I love goal setting, and as I already mentioned, I especially love goal-getting, it’s not what I’m going for this year. I’ve got so much on my plate, and so much to care for and nurture already, that all I really want to do is focus on what I’ve got going on right now. In this moment.

Because I really believe that it’s about going in; not out.

Goals are always so far out there for me. And it’s fun to go after them; to chase after the dream and maybe even catch up to one once in a while. But I wonder what’s happening right here while I’ve got my sights set on something out there? I think sometimes I might be missing out on all the good stuff happening right under my nose.

So that’s what it’s all about for me this year. It’s about sinking into the stuff I’ve got going on right in this moment. These words. And next, it might be about savoring the glass of wine that’s sitting next to me. And then it might be about bath time with my sweet baby boy. And then next, then next, then next….who knows? But I can tell you one thing: I want to be there. All the way there. Not just half-assed with my head in the clouds thinking about tomorrow’s plans or yesterday’s conversation, or all the big goals I’m lining up for the future.

My goal this year is to see how far I can sink into NOW.

I guess I could say it’s about depth not breadth; dropping in, not out; experiencing the big things and the little things and the every thing’s in between. It’s about living in the only space that’s real.

Of course, I’ll keep a little bit of the dream cast out around me, and as I hold my awareness steady right here in this moment, maybe, just maybe, that dream will rise up from inside of it. Because there’s one thing I’m sure of: the only way any goal is achieved or any dream realized, is right through the middle of NOW; so that’s where I’ll be waiting.

yogaimage3

Write your own manifesto: Here’s how

First of all; just in case you aren’t quite sure about what a manifesto is, let me tell you.

It’s a statement about what’s important to you. It can be a personal statement just for you; it can be for your family, or it can be about the work that you’re putting out into the world.

And it’s kind of a big deal because it helps you get clear about your beliefs and what you want to attract into your life. Words carry a lot of power—especially words backed up by feeling. So when you write your manifesto, you’re making a statement about why you’re here, what’s important, and what you want to create out of your life.

There aren’t really any rules when it comes to writing your own manifesto, but I do have one helpful suggestion: Write from your heart, not from your head.

Your heart is the space in you that really knows who you are and what’s most important, so if you can tune into that space, you’ll tap into the feeling of your manifesto, which is where all the power is. In fact, the feeling of it is more important than the words and phrases you select. And here’s why: because feeling attracts feeling. Ever heard of the law of attraction? Well, a manifesto can be like a beacon of light, attracting the reality you seek. So if you want your busy family to all come together once in a while, write, “We are connected,” even if you’re not quite connected yet. Every time you read that phrase, the feeling will be there, and that feeling will attract the reality that supports it.

I know that for some, expressing yourself through writing may not come easy, so here are a few tips to get you out of the headspace and into the heart space:

1. Stream of consciousness writing. All you gotta do here is write. Sit and write whatever comes to your mind for a full 5-10 minutes. No, it probably won’t be meaningful or poetic, and yes it might be a full 5-10 minutes of writing about how you have absolutely nothing to write about. That’s okay. Because the point of stream of consciousness writing is to peel off the outer layer of nonsense thought so you can sink into the good stuff. So write about yesterday’s conversation; what you’re having for dinner later; or the fact that the bottom of your foot itches….you get the point. Just write.

2. Tune into the feeling you want to convey in your manifesto. Do you want it to inspire? Evoke love? Peace? Joy? Maybe you want it to be silly and light. Generate the feeling you want to convey. Use your imagination to call it up, or read through some other examples (scroll down) to get a feel for what you’re looking for.

3. Now, start a few sentences with I believe…, I feel…, or I am…. See where those sentences take you. Write as many ‘belief’ statements as you like, then sort through and select the ones that really stand out. And as you write, notice how you feel. The ones that make you feel something are the power words and phrases; use those. Or, if you’d like to get started with a script, hop over to this super helpful post by Alexandra Franzen…she’ll help get you started with some creative writing prompts.

4. Or, state a few truths that you know for sure: “Smile every day,” “Go to bed happy,” “Rise with the sun…” Don’t doubt that you’ve got some wise words to share. If it helps, imagine that you’re telling this to your eight-year-old self. As the wise person that you are, what would you like to share with a younger version of you?

5. Steer clear of words that place the action of your manifesto in the future. Words such as someday…, or I will…, those words will always reflect some time other than now. Write as if whatever you want is already happening, even if it isn’t yet.

6. Write it again and again. This will help free up any anxiety about ‘getting it right’. Just start writing. The first five drafts might be throwaways, and that’s fine. Great work usually starts with a few rough drafts.

7. Once you’ve nailed it; put it somewhere visible to you. Frame it up for your home, or if it’s personal, put it somewhere for your eyes only—hang it in your closet, or tuck it into your wallet where you see it every day. The key is to use it as a reminder of what matters most, so that every time you see it, you feel that sense of peace or love or joy that came through the practice of writing it.

8. Let go of any notions about how it ‘should’ be. This is yours, so whatever you write will be a perfect reflection of your unique creative expression and personal manifestation.

I love being inspired by other people, so I’ve posted a few examples of some of my favorites. I’d also love to be inspired by you. If you have a manifesto you’d like to share—whether it’s one line, or a whole page—I’d love to see it. You can post it in the comments below, or better yet, post it on Instagram or Facebook to inspire all of your friends; just be sure to tag me so I can see it: @emilyperry.yoga (on Instagram) or post it on the Make It Manifest Facebook page.

Also, I’ve recorded a segment on this topic for KSL Studio 5. You can watch the segment right over here. Enjoy!

And for inspiration to get you started on writing your manifesto, here are a few of my favorites, or hop over to my about page to read mine.

The-Holstee-Manifesto

beginanywhere

Begin Anywhere Manifesto: Bruce Mau

womeninbusinessmanifesto

focus

Focus Manifesto: Leo Babauta

Discipline: The Good and the Bad of it

Meet the deadline. Check the box. Hit the mark.

Structure. Boundaries. Organization.

It’s all good when it helps you stay on course.

It’s not so good when it holds you back.

After I had my first baby, I had an epiphany that sort of went like this: ‘Oh, my body needs to be cared for; my mind needs to be cared for; my heart needs to be cared for…huh…I guess I can’t just sit back and wait for all of that to happen…’

And so it began: my love affair with discipline.

I fell deep.

Every day, no matter what: I did what I thought I had to do to take care of myself—my body, my heart, my mind, my work. Meditate.Yoga.Running.Writing. On task. On course. Disciplined. Dedicated. Devoted.

And it worked really, really great…until it didn’t.

It’s funny how something that is really good for you can shift into something that, well…isn’t anymore.

That’s what happened to me. I found that I had become so rigid in my structure that I was missing out on the spontaneity of life—the joy, the freedom, the expansion. Yet, I was so afraid that if I let things go…even just a tiny bit…everything would collapse.

It took my third child to snap me out of it. Babies have a very unsubtle way of shattering any and all structure. And this one really shook things up. No matter how hard I tried he would not conform to any type of structure, whatsoever. The only thing I could count on was that he would definitely not sleep, eat, or poop on a regular schedule.

So, I had to let go of it all: the yoga, the meditation, the reading, the writing, the running…I grabbed a moment here and there, but for the most part it all just dissolved for a while.

And you know what?

It was one of the very best things that could have happened to me.

You know why?

Because instead of falling apart, it all just fell into place.

Chaotic. Messy. Unstructured. It was a perfect storm.

Since my meditation practice was no longer a scheduled seated event, I practiced all day: while breastfeeding, changing diapers, rocking him to sleep. My writing became quicker, clearer and more focused. The precious moments I spent on the yoga mat were sublime, and despite my significant decline of exercise, I felt healthier and stronger than ever before.

Furthermore, letting it all go gave me something else to slip into:

Trust.
Surrender.
Faith.

And ultimately, a lot more freedom.

My suggestion?

Build a structure. Create something that will hold and sustain you; especially as you’re starting something new.

But, be flexible.

Don’t allow discipline to be so rigid that it boxes you in—use it as a springboard so you can soar even higher. Let things slide; let things slip; and take a break now and then, just for the hell of it.

You just might discover that you no longer need that worn-out map of discipline…

…because you’re flying now.

Flying

PHOTO: REUBEN WU