When was the last time you said you really wanted to achieve something, then actually made it? It’s a pretty amazing, satisfying feeling, isn’t it? Given that it’s the new year, I thought to share some reflections on my experiences with goalsetting, when it didn’t work out, what I changed, and how it has progressed for me over the years. My intention is to inspire you to set your goals for this year, as there is still time to set them for Lunar New Year of the Pig (Boar. Whatever.).
Earlier today, I was chatting with my friend about setting goals and intentions for the lunar new year (which I deem to be more of a “real” new year than that of the Gregorian calendar), and how last year I set intentions for the Lunar New Year of the Dog instead for a change. She asked what I had set, and I remembered my main intention, but I decided to have a look and review at my goals in more detail. I had written five pages detailing the goals I wanted to create, and around 75% of the goals came together, and certainly the most important ones came to fruition.
Why does this happen – what is the mechanic behind setting goals and having them manifest? Once we set our sights on what we really want, we begin orienting ourselves towards that goal. Day after day, decision after decision, it comes into reality as we take steps in that direction. However, it doesn’t always happen that we create the goals we set out for. When goals are set out of insecurity, lack, filling a void that you don’t want to face, or if you have an operant sin occuring in your life at the time, your goals won’t be able to manifest.
My Personal Journey of Goalsetting
The first goal I officially set was in Kindergarten (I remember because I told my Kindergarten teacher about it) – I wrote about having two beanie babies in my Hello Kitty journal. I got them a few weeks later from McDonald’s, and a trip to the local beanie baby store with my mom and older brother. I thought this was kind of cool, but I didn’t think much of it.
Later on growing up, I was in fifth grade when we had an assembly in the high school gym, and I saw the banners of Hall of Fame sports players. I remember the exact moment I said to myself, staring at the banners, I am going to have one of those when I graduate this school, no matter what. I had just started playing badminton, but I knew I wanted my name on a huge banner above the word “BADMINTON.” This was a truly clean goal I had, and it carried me through some extremely brutal endurance trainings with my former coaches and training with local sports schools.
Once I hit middle school, I began setting goals on the grades I wanted to have on my report cards. I dreamt of the pride I would feel about my own intelligence – always feeling like I never measured up to my brother’s intelligence – and finally being able to prove that I was one of the smart kids, too. These goals were harder to achieve, because they were highly driven by what other people thought of me.
This miserably carried on for a while, until I was in my two-month internship at Starbucks Taiwan where I was first introduced by my coworkers to “The Secret” and the Law of Attraction. I had always, always wanted a boyfriend growing up. But I didn’t think there was anything I could do about it really, until I learned about this method of goalsetting. I decided I would focus on it, now that something could be done about it! But nothing happened in that department for me until more than two years later. This goal was fully driven by a deep fear and the greatest insecurity of the possibility that deep down inside, I am not lovable. Having a boyfriend, it seemed, would stand as the irrefutable negation of that fearful thought.
The process of pursuing this goal over three years drove me out of a lot of illusions and into a greater expansion of truth. Definitely a quantum leap, as once you truly erase the idea that you’re not lovable, your life changes in incalculable ways. Your perspective of everything changes, and people’s bargaining power and command over you and your energy shifts immeasurably as well.
Until you then commit a sin. Then it gets complicated again.
My Year of the Dog Goalsetting
My main intention in my goalsetting work for the Year of the Dog, was to remove a sin I had committed years prior, and all the ways it was still operating in my life. I’m happy to say I live free from this wrong turn today, from having removed everything I had gained from this choice and letting go of the attachments I had to the “benefits” that came from the wrongdoing.
What I learned from constrasting my 2017 and 2018 goals is that when we commit a wrongdoing, life will not let us continue in a “normal” way until we correct for that wrongdoing. My 2017 goals were full of great ideas, great plans and dreams to continue my life in a more positive direction after I had experienced the most emotionally crippling breakup in 2016. I decided I would just “forgive” and “move on,” but after a year of attempting everything and finding myself still fighting the same problems, I realized that we can’t move on until we remove what we had done wrong and deeply processed what took place.
Facing this was the most challenging fear I have had to face to date – I think it was even worse than facing the deep-seated fear we all have that we might not be lovable, because this was about deep, dark shame of acting out our shadow energy. This was me deliberately having done something against what my better judgment required of me, and creating much more damage than if I had held back my dark desires to manipulate the fabric of reality.
It took an entire year – well, almost an entire year, still a week from Year of the Pig! – to remove it from my life. I’m on my knees in grace that my 2018 intentions were to focus on clearing this sin, despite not having stable work and the fears that crept in on my financial situation. I somehow was supported by Life to keep going without needing to resort to depending on someone else. But my main 2018 intention was to reinstate my faith in God, or a greater order of Life if preferred, rather than my own ability to manipulate/”create” reality.
In February 2018, I began praying and working on a spiritual practice. I studied materials on spirituality again. In March and April 2018, I began studying the Catholic sacrament of confession, and penance, and putting it into practice in my own way. In May 2018, I went to Los Angeles to clean up everything I had left behind there since 2016, to clear up the mess. I returned to Taiwan feeling twenty pounds lighter. In July 2018, I held, with the help of my event-planner friend Jenny, my “21st birthday party” a few years late, in a way I really wanted to, including performing music to my friends. I also [very] short-term dated a guy, while holding to one of my Year of the Dog intentions that I love:
Without this intention (which I obviously don’t remember that I wrote when I was dating this guy), I would not have moved forward positively in the way I did, and would have gotten into unnecessary messes. They’re powerful words, and I can say that this was not true of me when I wrote the goal, and today, it is.
On the Subject of Goalsetting
So, in this long blogpost, I’ve discussed a lot – goalsetting, when it’s not effective, what happens when you’ve done something wrong and cannot push forward, and clearing the path to have proper goals. Goalsetting is a seriously complicated process. It’s confusing for me as to why we simplify goalsetting into, “Set SMART goals!” Or “Get past the first 21 days of your new year’s resolutions, and it is well on its way!” Mhm, call me when that works out for you.
No, rather, goalsetting takes the most brutal honesty with yourself you can muster up the courage to encounter. It requires you to take full stock of where your life is today, and be willing to change directions where appropriate, with complete disregard of what you think you want. It certainly isn’t about the car you’ve always wanted, or the partner that will prove you’re not an unlovable loser. Done right, by enough people, it can transform the world from the horrors we’ve experienced in the 20th Century and the recent past few years.
My Year of the Dog intentions structures looked like this:
- Spiritual Goals (7)
- Emotional Goals (6)
- Mental Goals (5)
- Physical Goals (5)
Areas of Life
- Health (3)
- Relationships (3)
- Lifestyle (2)
- Career (5)
- Finances (3)
- Music (5)
- Education (3)
I then had a breakdown of goals for the months, starting February 2018, up to September 2018.
With this structure, I was able to clear my past wrongdoings and move in a better direction for myself. I hardly compared myself to anyone else in that time, because I just couldn’t, given I had committed this wrongdoing I had to clean it up. It is extremely liberating to see how 2018 unfolded with so much grace and atonement.
My 2019 Goalsetting Processes
This year, my sister and I set intentions while eating cakes (mm by the ocean? Kidding) and white wine during countdown. It was great; we really channeled solid intentions that are still in effect for both of us today.
After that, I followed a more structured program for goalsetting this year, with Jordan B. Peterson’s Future Authoring program. It took a total of about twelve to fifteen hours to write the almost thirty pages of goalsetting details for just eight main goals, over the course of two weeks. I had to face a lot of fears about myself and who I am, and course correct a lot from where I was, after detailing out the goals. I stuck to every section of it however, and when I completed it, it truly felt very complete as a set of goals. It is a really powerful process that took what I already did for so many years to much greater heights. I’m looking forward to see how it will run its course.
The Human Journey of Becoming
I used to approach goalsetting as if it were my time to get out everything that I want, but after my experience from the previous year, I came to a much higher level of self-accountability and responsibility, requiring a different level of who I am. Goals and setting them is and has always been about the person you become in the process, and that’s the place we should be focused on. Our entire life consists of us creating ourselves as individuals in the relative world – and who we choose to be has always been up to our choice in what to pay attention to. I am profoundly grateful for the fact that I’ve been setting goals since I was five years old, and developed the muscle over the years in the way I have.
As I encourage everyone to pick up goalsetting as well, wherever you’re at, and I offer a lead for where you can start. Start with this simple question: If nothing else were to happen this year for you, what is the one thing you would like to see happen?
If you just get that together, your year will be better than if you paid zero attention to the life you wish to create. While we don’t dictate the outcomes in our lives, I do hold to the truth that we harbor tremendous creative power in the decision to follow our greatest destiny, or to stumble into fated tragedies.
I’ve set my goals for my year, and I’m really, really looking forward to how it plays out. Praying in grace.