Goal Setting

Petunia the pit bull.It’s no surprise to those nearest and dearest to me that I’m a huge Hunter Thompson fan. I have no clue as to what prompted me to start reading his work about fifteen years ago but when I did I instantly recognized a kindred spirit. His words were enormously visual, vicious, creative and calculated. He was a dreamer who was disappointed in the world yet too hopelessly romantic to completely give up on it; he had a strong sense of justice and actively sought any opportunity to fight for it; he was sometimes prone to childish tantrums and had a difficult time differentiating between the outlandish figure the public and media expected him to be and the thoughtful man he really was; he possessed a gritty exterior but at his core he was extremely vulnerable. It absolutely irks me when, because of the popularity of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, people write him off as being a talentless writer of drug novels. Obviously, he was sooooo much more to me, but to each his/her own I guess. And although we lost him back in 2005, his writing is still being discovered and shared and for that I am extremely grateful.

This is the moment in my tedious rant where I redirect you to another site and then ask you to return back here for further discussion. No dilly dallying, please! Click here to read Maria Popova’s analysis of a recently discovered and published letter from a 20-year-old Hunter on how to live a meaningful life and find your purpose. I will wait, no worries.

…..do, dee, doo, dee, doo…lah, lah….

Okay, for those who lacked the patience to read the letter, it was basically about our faulty beliefs around goal setting. We are ever evolving beings and are constantly being shaped by our experiences and surroundings. Correct? So why do we do everything in our power to mold ourselves and our lives around extremely specific, finite goals and make ourselves feel like failures when we don’t measure up?  Shouldn’t the goal reflect who we are instead of the other way around? The letter speaks to honoring our talents and experiences shaping us and going with that flow instead of struggling to swim against the current of our lives and who we really are as individuals. It’s about using our unique knowledge and talents instead of forsaking them to do something that we have to break and re-mold ourselves to do. I’ve done this, I’m sure we all have, and it doesn’t always feel so great. Personally, I’ve done it a lot when it comes to my career (or lack-thereof).

Enter Danielle LaPorte from stage right… To go a step further and put this new thinking into practice, Danielle offers a simple shift in the way we view goal setting which is based on how you want to feel, not what specific goal you want to reach. (In case my video embed doesn’t work, here is a link to her video and in the video description you will find her four tips for discovering your core desired feelings.) She suggests thinking about your life in three aspects: body & wellness, relationships & society, and lifestyle & livelihood and then riff on how you want to feel in each of the three categories. Distill your list down to a few core desired feelings that you resonate with the most. Then every day, week, month and year focus on what things you can do to feel that way. My desired feelings took me about one second to come up with: healthy, secure, valuable, love and abundant. Now I just have to ask myself what can I do each day to feel all of these things. It’s a simple shift in thinking but it’s incredibly important because it feeds and honors our heart & soul in the form of our emotional well-being which in turn reflects our physical well-being.

An unfortunate example of goal setting gone awry that I see often is when people base their lives on earning that degree, finding that perfect job, getting married and having kids. Once they hit these milestones they tend to also hit a wall and although they may feel great satisfaction in their lives, they also feel like something is missing. More than likely, they’re missing the drive that propels them forward to the next hurdle or that feeling of having individual purpose that striving for the next tangible goal in life provides. So that simple shift in focusing on how you want to feel could be extremely helpful because there is no specific end game and there’s potential for daily achievement.

I certainly hope you found these two resources inspiring. I happened upon Danielle’s interview this morning and it conveyed Hunter’s sentiment so perfectly that I had to share the love!

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