Goals: Guiding Your Course or Attached to OutcomesBy Dr. Margaret Paul
July 27, 2020
Do you say to yourself, "I will be happy when..."? Discover that you can be joyful right now, even before achieving your goal.
"This knowledge commands us to stay in the present moment, which brings awareness to all that we do… It teaches us to stay focused on the process and use our goals as stars to guide our course. When we make staying focused on the process our real goal, we experience a sense of success in every moment." ~"The Practicing Mind" by Thomas M. Sterner
People are often confused when I suggest that they let go of attachment to goals. "Shouldn't I have goals? Isn’t having goals important?" they ask.
Yes! It's vital to have goals! How will you know where you want to go if you don't have goals? However, there is a huge difference between having your worth and happiness attached to the goal, and using your goal to guide your actions.
As Thomas Sterner wonderfully writes about in "The Practicing Mind," we never get to truly experience the joy of the process when we attach our happiness and worth to achieving the goal. Most of you have experienced reaching a goal and feeling great for a day or two, or even a week or two, only to then be dissatisfied because there is another goal to achieve.
There is such power in the above quote. "When we make staying focused on the process our real goal, we experience a sense of success in every moment."
This is a very important understanding for those of you practicing Inner Bonding. Are you focused on the daily process of loving yourself, or are you focused on the goal of getting something?
For example, you might have a goal of speaking up for yourself in the moment of a challenging interaction. If you focus on the goal of speaking up for yourself, you will likely miss the feelings you need to speak up about.
When I started letting go of focusing on the goal and instead learned to stay present in the moment and care about my own feelings, then I was naturally able to speak up for myself. When I learned to stay present for the process of Inner Bonding - staying in Step One all day – rather than focusing on some outcome of Inner Bonding, that's when I began to experience the success and joy of my practice.
Keep Your Goals Without Attaching Your Worth or Happiness to the Outcome
Do you have a goal of getting emotionally healthy, or of losing weight, or of improving your relationship, or of finding a loving relationship, or letting go of an addiction? Great! Keep your goal as a star to guide your course, but make staying focused on learning to love yourself your real goal. You will "experience a sense of success in every moment" as long as learning to stay present and focused on your process IS your goal.
If you tell yourself, "I will feel happy when I lose weight," or "I will feel happy when I find the love of my life," or "I will feel happy when I can stop being so reactive with other people," then you are missing the joy you can receive from focusing on the process itself. I used to have a big weight problem. I was always struggling to lose weight, and always unhappy with my weight. Now, due to my Inner Bonding process of taking loving care of myself emotionally and physically, I love the process of eating delicious and healthy foods to nourish my body rather using food to than fill the emptiness that used to be there when I was abandoning myself. I get great joy out of the process of maintaining my health, and in this process, my goal of a healthy and stable weight has been easily achieved.
Keep your goals in mind as your guiding light for your actions, but let go of attaching your worth or happiness to achieving them. Stay focused on your Inner Bonding process and you will receive the moment-by-moment joy of being in the process of achieving your goals.
Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: "Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships."
Join IBVillage to connect with others and receive compassionate help and support for learning to love yourself.
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It is not always what we say or do in a moment that defines us in that moment, but rather the energy with which we speak and act. Our energy in any given moment is open or closed, loving or unloving, accepting or judgmental, kind or unkind, soft or hard, flexible or unyielding, controlling or learning. Regardless of the words, the energy always betrays our intent.
By Dr. Margaret Paul