sweet new year

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Judy Brown told our class last week that “September is the new January.” The trend is that at the start of fall, we head back to school. We’ve been nurtured by our summer vacations. We’re ready to make our goals happen. This is a better time than the start of winter for most of us to get going on goals. Are you ready to make a change in your life? Is something itching to be created?

Lululemon is a clothing chain founded by Chip Wilson, and, for some reason, this guy is big on goals. Their employees are encouraged to set goals and publish them, and their promotional materials often include goal-setting advice.

Yoga Journal (Feb 2012) ran a series of 6 steps to reaching one’s personal peak, as suggested by Wilson and the company’s “Director of Possibilities” Susanne Conrad. The list is at the end of this email.

I like the first suggestion, which is to imagine ourselves 10 years from now. It’s not just about setting a goal. It’s about seeing whether I’m on the right path right now. Does my 10 year vision flow naturally from what I do now? Is it radically different? I may not need to set a 10 year goal, but I can check in to see that I’m living the life I want to be living. 

I also really like the idea of reading aloud a goal. It’s one thing to think that maybe I want to bike my way around the world (I don’t by the way; that sounds terrible to me). It’s another to say it aloud. Wilson and Conrad are so right. When I hear myself say those words, I notice my body’s response. This can tell me whether it’s an authentic desire, an engaging challenge, or an interesting dream but I don’t really want to go there. 

Telling someone else our goal is where the magic happens. We’re revealed ourselves and our true desires. That is what’s important, our self-loving vision of our possibilities and potential. It’s not always about whether I set a goal and reach it, though that can be a lot of fun and a great challenge. It’s the entire premise of setting a goal helps me consider what I value. 

Today marks the Jewish New Year, and it’s celebrated with apples dipped in honey for a sweet new year. Take a deep breath and imagine what will make the next cycle of 12 months sweeter for you. 

I recently set myself a goal: I’m running a 10K in the Duke City marathon on October 21. I cannot describe to you the butterflies in my stomach when I think of it. Why am I doing it? I’m doing it for the challenge. What a sweet challenge it’s already been. I’ve learned a lot about myself in training for this. It’s this makes-no-difference-to-anyone-else goal that’s all about me and reveals to me my patterns, my thoughts, my habits. In setting this goal, I have an intention for my new Jewish year. Be loose. Be flexible. Sense, and shift.

Those of you who run know exactly how “be loose” is part of what I’ve learned from my miles. It’s not possible to run well and run tight. Probably, that’s true of pretty much anything. 

Goals can be important for helping us get things done. But that’s not all they’re worth. The process of setting and seeing through the goal is what teaches us and grows us. 

Below are Chip’s 6 points for goals.

1. Imagine. Start by thinking of your life 10 years from now. Imagine a detailed picture of where you see yourself. What kind of home do you have? Who do you spend time with? What work do you do? How does it feel?

2. Break It Down. Work backward from that vision to figure out the steps you need to take to turn your vision into reality. Define your 10-year, 5-year, and 1-year goals. 

3. Set deadlines. It’s easier to get yourself focused on a quantifiable goal with a “by-when” date. For instance, if you’re hoping to become a yoga teacher someday, turn that into “I will complete a 200-hr training by January 2014.”

4. Test your goals. Read your goals aloud to see if they feel authentic. If you feel a little tension in your belly as you read, that’s probably good. Powerful goals will excite you and drive you to action. 

5. Recruit Support. Share your goals with friends who you know will support you. Encourage them in their goals as well. The mutual support will help you make it to your personal finish line. 

6. Revisit and refresh. Write your goals on a piece of paper and keep it where you will read it often. Feel free to revise them. Nothing’s set in stone exept your commitment to achieve the success you are capable of.