Why Not Setting Goals Helped Me Reach Mine

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I recently decided not to set goals (for the New Year or otherwise). And after I did, I started reaching them.

What the what?

Let me explain. I’m a total goal-hound. If it can be put into an Excel spreadsheet, obsessively journaled about, or checked off a to-do list, I’m there.
• New diet? Check (x a trillion).
• New plan for getting ahead at work? Check (x 1000).
• New budget? Check (x 50, at least).
• New exercise plan? Check (I think you’re getting the idea).

Pretty much, if it’s a self-improvement plan, I’m on it. That is, until I finally stopped a moment to consider how goals make me feel. Goals make me uber-excited—for about a day.

After that, they make me harden—physically and emotionally. Tension builds in my body, starting with my neck and shoulders. For a long time, anytime someone would casually massage my shoulders, I would yelp with pain; they were so tight that they were tender. Goals also make me really hard on myself; for instance, if I set a goal to accomplish something in a month, I start thinking about how awesome it would be to instead do it in a week. And then I start thinking how terrible I am when I haven’t done it after four days. That’s my landslide.

So in the past few months, whenever I have a new idea to Make! My! Life! Better! Immediately! I just check in, acknowledge the positive impetus behind it to live my best life, and then send it on its way—kind of like pushing away a little toy sailboat on a sea of good but misdirected intentions.

Of course, I still have dreams and aspirations, but now I’m using yoga and meditation to let them in more slowly. I practice in whatever way most makes sense for me on any given day. Sometimes that’s by getting on the mat, sometimes it’s by taking a nap, and sometimes it’s by cuddling up with my hubby and dogs and watching TV. By giving myself some space, my dreams have time to steep. And as all tea drinkers know, that’s not a process that can be rushed.

Anna Guest-Jelley is a bit of an anomaly: a curvy woman who practices and teaches yoga. Despite not dreaming of putting her leg behind her head (without going to the hospital, at least), she learns/practices/teaches yoga because of its transformative powers in her life. For more Curvy Yoga goodness, visit her at her website and on Facebook and Twitter.

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