The Art of Ungoaling

15590953_10154749660218116_8933971243406653554_o.jpgI’ve spent some time these past few weeks deliberating my goals for 2017. Last year, I used a new goal-setting system, in which I looked at all areas of my life, and thought about what I wanted to change and improve; and to be honest, 2016 ended up looking completely different than what I’d anticipated based on those goals I set 12 months ago. I will note here that I worked on and/or achieved several of these goals, but I wonder that they were things I was working on anyway; and looking at my other goals, I have begun to wonder whether I have fallen into a trap of setting goals for the sake of goal-setting; out of a desire to achieve rather than live; and that is disconcerting for me.

Life isn’t simple. In fact, it’s enormously complex, layered, at times wonderful, at times baffling and challenging. Making “simple changes” is often anything but. And life, I have found, is made up primarily of two elements – the things that happen to us; and the way we respond to those happenings.

2016 for me had some wonderful highs – the development of some close friendships that I value enormously (and the time investment that goes with such a thing); a fabulous holiday with friends, which inspired me and gave me memories I will treasure for a lifetime; time spent experiencing new cities, galleries, shows; wonderful times with friends and family; and continuing to grow my precious marriage.

And on the converse – the loss of a loved one after a long period of illness; significant changes in my work life, referral base, clinic structure, work load – you name it, it changed; a significant number of health challenges, which seriously took the wind out of my sails and required immediate refocussing of my time and efforts (and which enormously impacted my physical resilience and levels of fatigue); helping close friends with serious and debilitating challenges throughout the year; and a world seemingly gone mad, politically and socio-economically.

In summary: 2016 was a year.

But it’s not a year that I’m going to “burn to the ground”, no matter how difficult it was, because I also learned a lot about myself, the value of the people in my life, about shifting gears and focus rapidly, and about what’s most important to me. 2016, I decided back in January last year, was about Purpose. And it turns out it wasn’t about ground-breaking, soul-soaring, world-changing achievement of goals (which, to be honest, was what I expected/hoped – the year I finally Got All The Things Done). Instead, it was about friendship, and sharing the love I have for those around me – which I suspect is the real purpose of this life: making a difference in the corner of the world we occupy, and wherever our influence can reach.

Which brings me to 2017.

I have spent many years striving towards my goals – sometimes hitting the mark, and sometimes not. But what I haven’t had is a year that I allowed or trusted to unfold organically. So 2017 for me is about Trust. Trust that I always work hard and with a spirit of excellence – so maybe I can let go of the “striving”. Trust that issues will work themselves out (I mean, 100% of the issues I’ve had in my life thus far have done just that – with and without my intervention!) and not to distress when a challenge arises. Trust that my body will tell me what it needs to be healthy and well, and to listen to ‘that quiet voice’ that regularly tells me to “go to bed!”, or stretch my legs, or to take a rest day to reboot. Trust that opportunities are not borne of striving and stress, but from seeds planted, and connections made when I am committed to ‘throwing kindness around like confetti’. Most importantly for me, however, is to trust in my faith walk – that there is a plan for me, which will unfold as it is meant to and in its own time, and that there are plenty of shaded groves and treasures awaiting me along the wendering path that is life.

So, this is my “smart” un-goal (as opposed to the squillions of SMART goals I’ve set over the years):

– To let go, to surrender to what the year brings, and respond to challenges with patience and wisdom as best I can.

– To give myself rest and self-care opportunities at every turn.

– To spend as much time as I can with people I like and love, people who make me laugh, who inspire me to be the best parts of myself, who are giant and wonderful weirdos, who are brilliant in their own unique ways.

– To spend time exploring the world, seeing shows, camping under the stars, crafting to my heart’s content, just enjoying the incredible privileges I have access to in this corner of the world.

– To sow into projects, people, and charities that are making a difference in ways that speak to my heart, with the resources I have to hand.

– To chase only the opportunities that inspire me, when they present themselves along the path of 2017.

– And finally – to always, always, always be as kind as I possibly can – to myself, my spouse, my friends, family and anyone who crosses my path – because it is the best part of myself I have to offer.

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