New Year, new goals, clean slate, a sense of renewal and leaving the past behind...again and again and again! If you take a peek at your goals from last year, you likely reached some of them. Some you will copy and paste into the upcoming new year. If we pay close attention and take an honest inventory, we are copying and pasting more than we probably should. Yes, it’s important to be gentle with oneself and adjust timing of our goals as needed, but we often let the copy and paste happen because of our lack of a breakthrough, and attachment to a perceived payoff. Let’s explore this more closely.
If you’ve ever been through a goal-setting session, you’ve likely heard of “SMART Goals” a million times over: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-based. This is a great foundation for goal-setting and simple to apply, yet it is simultaneously basic. When you are living your muse, you aren’t basic. Your path can’t be planned through a “one size fits all” plan. Life will likely require that you experience a unique, major breakthrough to get to your muse and live beyond the ordinary. This breakthrough might be so personal to you that it can’t be considered “measurable”. It might be a state of mind, a perception, or an emotional experience. And in no way, shape or form can you become extraordinary with ordinary tools. You must be willing to do the things that don’t look perfect, polite, accommodating or acceptable in order to reach your breakthrough.
Start by looking back at where you came from. Your family, hometown, childhood friends & activities, etc. It’s your foundation, and an integral part of who you are. Throughout life, you have been and will be exposed to different opportunities that broaden your scope beyond where you come from. This is actually pretty common for most of us. It usually starts with college or other post-high school experiences, where we leave home to pursue a higher level education or new experiences. Some of us may return home and others do not. For some it is only the start of many journeys that exacerbate the gap between where you come from and where you are going. This gap quickly becomes evident in the relationships in your life. Any time that you move, elevate to a new position or make a major life change, you run the risk of leaving people behind. There’s a deeply personal and often negative connotation that comes with this. You are pursuing your dreams and your calling in life, but it comes at the cost of changing your relationships. And boy, can some people put a guilt trip on you! “You left me”, “I never see you”, “You’re too good for us now”. Those comments cut like a knife. It’s not that you don’t care about your friends and family; you are simply following your calling. And isn’t that what life is all about? Living your muse to fulfill your soul’s purpose? Hearing that your loved ones feel left behind is hard and it hurts. You have no intention of causing pain, but the risk of misrepresenting yourself to others is one of the many costs of propelling yourself forward. Everyone is responsible for themselves, including those that may feel left in your past. Find new ways to connect and create bonds through distance and change, but never make yourself responsible for those in your life that inflict guilt trips, make you responsible for their happiness or project their lack of growth on your success. Is the payoff of being close, accommodating others, and putting their needs first worth the cost of your dream?
Payoffs are hard to see. They are usually a blind spot that we, and our friends and families, can’t even identify at the surface. The easiest way to explore them is to start with your fears. If I ______________, I’m scared that _____________ will happen. Our interpretations of simple cause and effect. Over years of conditioning, experiences, abuse, lost loves, failures, successes, we establish a set of rigid ideas that make up our template for a solid, responsible “plan”. In actuality, we have developed mental and emotional limitations that block our willingness to incorporate taking risks and conquering fears into our plan. We equate “safe” to “responsible”, and “comfortable” to “right”. But when you are truly breaking through thresholds, you’ll see that those principles go straight out the window. You face your fear dead on and overcome your complacency and the payoff you’ve been leaning on.
When I was doing heavy self work during the process of my divorce, I was reading Conscious Loving by Gay Hendricks, where I came face to face with this concept. Hendricks poses the question “What are you Getting out of Staying Stuck?” In the book, a story is shared about a man and woman suffering from their attachment to a payoff. “Larry and Ruth realized that their main payoff was in maintaining their belief that the other person was wrong. When they fought they could strengthen their belief that ‘no matter what I do, I can’t win with this person.’ Their other big payoff was limiting positive energy. By fighting all the time they kept themselves from acknowledging something very important and real; neither was satisfied with what they were accomplishing in the world. They felt they were not living up to their potential as individuals or as a couple. Fighting and blaming were ways of avoiding looking at and doing something about this painful awareness.” It’s amazing what we discover when we peel back the layers and face the depths of what’s actually holding us back. With my own realization of being stuck, I had to face what ever labels, blame, judgments and opinions that would come with divorce. But with my fear of being alone and starting over, I gave myself the opportunity to live my muse and disprove my fears.
Many of you have stepped out in courageous ways and have started to influence your communities with your life’s work. This is a tremendous step and you deserve a round of applause. We are in a new era of both self-promotion and brand-promotion, and sometimes the line between the two feels blurred. It’s a different way of commercialization, but the tools within social media alone have changed the game. Often times, when we have influence, we become too humble about our platform. The more people you know, and the more good work that you do, you are talked about more, have more people to socialize with, more obligations and events...the list goes on and on. It’s exhausting and you can quickly become sick of yourself. As a result, humility can lead you to pull back on your visibility; you don’t want to bother people with too much “you”. But when you are doing good work and you believe in your work, the world needs more of you. Stand as that example of courage, strength, good, positivity, encouragement, beauty, creativity, and inspiration. Yes, it comes with the price of some people thinking that you are narcissistic, conceited, cocky or egotistical - but guess what... your message isn’t for them! Might I remind you that Oprah’s show was called “Oprah” and her entire brand is “Oprah”. You too have the right to own who you are and rise into your muse unapologetically.
Beloved musa, all this is said to encourage you to do what YOU need to do this year. Despite what people might think and how they might feel, despite the fears that flow through your blood, you were put on this earth to do great things. The payoffs of holding back aren’t worth it, and even when it feels like they are, challenge yourself to expand the lens on your scope and find creative ways to maintain the things that are important to you. Become comfortable with the temporary pain of change and growth, knowing that you are shedding and making room for more goodness in your life. In 2017, copy and paste that lofty, crazy, dreamy goal for the last time in your life. Know that this is your year, this is your breakthrough, and there’s no going back to basic. Live your muse!
CEO & Executive Visionary
Hendricks, Gay, and Kathlyn Hendricks. Conscious Loving: The Journey to Co-commitment. New York: Bantam, 1990. 158-59. Print.