For years now I’ve found that I’ve not really been able to plan. Not in the traditional way.
I’d sit down to map out a plan toward whatever I most wanted, like a new offering or more clients or even an editorial calendar, and it just wouldn’t flow.
Either I couldn’t get to clarity, like the ideas wouldn’t flow. Or I’d put together a rocking plan that went nowhere. As in either, I didn’t have the follow-through or life things just seemed to get in the way of making that plan work.
So I’d pretty much decided that living from my Soul was unpredictable. I couldn’t get to feeling consistently focused, clear or directed toward an outcome I wanted.
I just figured I needed to let it go and accept this as the new normal… until these last few days.
I think I’ve just figured out why planning doesn’t work for me. And, if you have some of the same challenges with planning, maybe this is the reason for you too.
My number one priority is to stay aligned with my Soul so I really look to my Soul to lead the way. That is a non-negotiable for me.
Lately, I’ve been putting together a new way of being organized. It’s been very organic and not something I set out to do, it just seemed to begin to fall into place.
One of those pieces was setting out plans toward some goals. If you’ve followed me on Facebook you may have seen me sharing a bit about The 12 Week Year by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington.
There is a lot about that book that is super traditional thinking about planning. Make a vision. Create goals that are SMART – specific, measurable, achievable/attainable, relevant and time-bound. Make the tactics to get there and then measure your performance.
What was different was the authors’ recommendation to treat 12 weeks as a year and to take on only 1-3 goals. It encourages you to get super focused and put your energy into each week as though it was a month and then suggests how to map your time each week to make the best of the time you do have.
This felt good to me and I listened internally for what to focus on and wrote out my 3 goals.
And then I started thinking about how this could be helpful for my clients. As soon as I started to explain it to them I realized that I was holding a number of different assumptions that are completely different from traditional planning.
Here’s what I realized:
When you’re Soul led, you accept that there is a Wisdom at work that is greater than you. That means that when you want something, it is already created and your Soul calls you to it. It is then up to you to align with what you want and allow it into creation.
Traditional goal setting work assumes you do not have what you want so you must work to get it or create it. And in most cases, we are taught to believe that there is a right or better way to get to a desired goal or outcome.
So in effect, SMART goals essentially reinforce the belief that you do not have something and that you have to perform (correctly) to earn or achieve them. And then each time you measure your performance toward the goal you can judge yourself as successful, failing or needs improvement.
This is absolutely contrary to Soul wisdom. You do not need to earn, or perform, to have what you want. And there isn’t one, correct way to reach your desire.
All of that helped me realize that when you are working in a Soul led way, you are listening to your Soul for which actions are in right-alignment to support your growth beyond your ability to plan.
Traditional planning assumes that growth is linear. Soul led growth is synchronistic and dynamic.
We know this is true when we are in flow and things just seem to magically fall into place. Or when time seems to stop. And who hasn’t slipped into envy when we see someone who seems to effortlessly have all the right opportunities line up for them? Just another example of Soul alignment.
So let’s take a traditional SMART goal as an example and see how things fall apart.
Let’s say you set a goal to create an extra $XXXX of income.
This is something you’ve really wanted but haven’t figured out how to make it happen. It is specific, measurable, relevant and time-bound.
You want to believe it’s attainable – after all, with Soul backing you, everything is attainable.
Here are all the things you are inadvertently telling yourself when you take on this goal:
- You do not have what you want. So you are reinforcing having more of the absence of what you want.
- Your actions will make it happen. (So you are not working with your Soul.)
- There is this one way that you’ve mapped to get there, so you’ve introduced control, constraint, and conditions.
- To have what you want, you have to work harder or do more.
- Each time you measure your performance or results, you are judging your ability, worth, and your deservability.
- When you do reach your goal, you’ve taught yourself the conditions it takes to get what you want – hard work, control, earning, deserving.
- When you do not reach your goal, you doubt yourself, your connection to Soul, your deservability and judge your worth.
When I look at goal setting and planning from this perspective, I can easily understand why it didn’t feel good. Every one of those bullet points is contrary to what it is to be Soul led. Since my intention is alignment with my Soul, it makes sense that this way was not supporting me because it went against that intention.
And if you feel similarly, it may not be supporting you.
Here’s what I’ve found that has been working for me:
Make your goal an accomplishment or new habit that is foundational to the bigger picture of what you want.
For example, if you want to grow your income look for a system, process or habit you can put in place that will support you in growth that also feels good to you. This will very likely be something you know you need to be doing but have been putting off like blogging or emailing regularly, automating your billing or finances, or cleaning something up in your personal life.
Select a feeling goal that informs all other goals you make.
For example, if you made a goal to clean up your finances knowing that you are creating more income, what feeling will you have that more money will give you? Is it freedom, security, ease? Find yours and write it right next to the ‘clean up your finances’ goal so that you remember that each time you work on your finances you are creating more freedom.
Make your measurements more about tracking rather than performance.
You want to keep track of whether you put attention to the system, process or habit and how often, like tracking how many glasses of water you drink.
Make sure that what you are tracking is not making you feel bad at the end of the day or month. Instead, it should help you see growth, and support consistency and momentum.
Log what you appreciate or are grateful for each day of the 12 weeks, or goal period, to stay focused on what you do have.
I find that goals that support me in creating momentum, consistency and continuity are more expansive and really lean into supporting a deeper relationship with my Soul.
I’d love to know what you think of perspective on planning.
What is your most effective way of planning in alignment with your Soul?