Posted on | May 30, 2011 | 11 Comments
Have you bought into the common wisdom that your goals have to be clearly delineated? Do you think you have to be super clear about where you’re going with your future? Do you think you have to have a plan?
About 25 years ago, I spent three days creating what I thought was one of the best goal lists ever written. It was ten pages long, and it detailed every goal I had for the coming years. I had it all broken down into daily goals, weekly goals, and monthly goals. I had goals for the coming year, the coming five years, and then for every ten year chunk after that.
Proud as all get out about my accomplishment, I carried my masterpiece to my therapist at the time, Debby. I handed it to her like a dog presenting a prize bone to her master. I asked her, “What do you think?” And I sat back waiting for her to give me a nice pat on the head (figuratively, of course).
She flipped through the ten pages and after several moments said, HERE “Do you want me to tell you what I think you should do with this?”
“Yes, please!” I was sure she had some laudatory wisdom to share.
She dropped the list in the waste basket.
It took me a very long time before I understood why Debby did what she did. A VERY long time … as in 25 years.
It’s only recently that I’ve come to understand that all the people who teach you to map out your goals are … I’ll put this kindly … misguided.
Or rather, it might work for some people, but it doesn’t work for everyone—as some life coaches and self help teachers want you to believe.
There’s actually a better—or at least much more fun—way to live a fulfilling, successful life.
I’ve recently completely and utterly given up goals. Not just big, long-term goals, but short term goals too.
I have no more daily lists of things to do. I have no more spreadsheets. No more stickies.
I have stopped planning out my life.
What? No Plans??????
Now, does the fact that I’ve stopped planning and setting goals mean I never make an appointment to meet with someone or be someplace?
Of course not.
I still do specific things at specific times, but when I follow through with them, it’s because it’s my highest excitement to do so. And I do it in a way that’s my highest excitement as well.
And does not planning mean I have no vision of my future?
No way. I still do mental scripts of things I desire. I still write descriptions of things I’d like to experience. But these are just ways for me to focus my thought, and I only do them when I feel like it.
Not planning means that instead of having my days all laid out and governed by to do lists, I just let my days unfold.
I have one “goal” for each day. But I don’t think of it as a goal. I think of it as an intention.
That intention is to follow my “highest excitement.”
Your Highest Excitement
“Highest excitement” is a Bashar term.
[Note: If you’ve never heard of Bashar and you’re more of a mainstream thinker, never mind about him and who he is. Just listen to what I’ve learned about highest excitement. If you accept channeling and out-of-the-box concepts like extraterrestrials, feel free to listen to Bashar himself. I’ve put a video of him explaining the concept at the bottom of this post]
“Highest excitement” is basically the same thing as “follow your bliss.” It’s what Abraham calls “the path of least resistance.” You can also think of it as your intuition or your biggest whim. My personal favorite way to think of it is as what I call BTIPing.
BTIP is my acronym for Best Toy In Pile. I thought of it when I watched Ducky rooting around in her huge basket of toys. That’s what your highest excitement is: picking the best toy in the pile in any given moment.
The pile is the totality of options you have before you, what you’re capable of doing in this moment. The best toy is the action (or nonaction) that lights you up the most, the one you’re drawn to.
BTIPing is sort of like “tripping” but without the drugs. (For the record, I’ve never been tripping except for one time when I got morphine in the ER ).
So I’ve been BTIPing, following my highest excitement, and I have to tell you, I’m happier than I’ve ever been, AND I’m doing a lot of great stuff.
When You BTIP, You Won’t Stop Doing
When I told one friend about my new way of being, she said, “Doesn’t doing away with discipline make you lazy?”
You’ll notice that I’m still creating a couple blog posts a week. I’m still exercising. I still brush my teeth. I still meditate.
In fact, in the last several weeks since I started BTIPing, I’ve written and edited a novel. I’ve done writing coaching for a new client. I’ve created synopses of other novels. I’ve worked on a logo for The Joyful Springer and started setting up a Zazzle shop for it. I’ve done all sorts of things around the house. I’ve taken care of Ducky. Not to bore you with the details of my life … you get the idea.
But Don’t You Forget Things?
It may seem counter-intuitive to the way you were raised, but when you give up your reminders, you tend to remember more. I used to rely on stickies to be sure I uploaded videos at the right time or got what I went to the store to get.
But since I’ve begun following my highest excitement, I recall just what I need to recall just when I need to recall it. It becomes my highest excitement to get lettuce and broccoli and tomato soup, so I get them.
It’s working for Tim too. When I told him about BTIPing, he got into it immediately. Tim has had lots of trouble with forgetfulness, but now he just seems to know when he it’s time to do something. He doesn’t try to remember it; he just does remember it because it becomes his highest excitement.
Want an example of how this can work out on a grander scale?
Check out Rick Genest.
“You Gotta Do What You Love”
You may not have heard of Rick Genest. I hadn’t until a friend sent me a link to an article about him.
Ten years ago, Rick decided to get his whole body tattooed so he’d look like a cadaver. Yup. That was what he wanted to do.
Now, did he do this because he had a goal of being noticed? Did he want to be a model or an actor or a circus performer?
Nope. He just thought it sounded like a cool thing to do. As he says, “You gotta do what you love or else you’ll be doing something you hate.”
Most people he told about his idea thought he was nuts. He didn’t care.
He didn’t care about the future either. He was just following his highest excitement.
Well, his unique, if not universally appealing, tattoos have gotten him jobs with fashion designer Thierry Mugler and pop star Lady Gaga. And it’s landed him a part in an upcoming Keanu Reeves film.
He didn’t go after these gigs. They found him.
He expended no EFFORT. He had no AGENDA. He didn’t TRY. He used no DISCIPLINE.
That’s the beauty of BTIPing or following your highest excitement. You take the struggle out of life. You create a life of flow.
Keep It Simple
If you’re BTIPing properly, life gets easy. You never have to “figure out” what to do. It’s not about finding your highest calling or purpose either.
To follow your highest excitement, all you do is
1. Be aware of all the options you currently have available to you.
2. Choose the one that appeals to you the most (the one that excites you or draws you the most.)
I used to think that as long as I didn’t have complete financial freedom to do whatever I wanted, I couldn’t follow my bliss. But this simple way of doing it doesn’t require total freedom.
For example, at the moment, Tim’s choices are often limited to what he can do within the confines of his two jobs. Does that mean he can’t follow his highest excitement? No.
What he does when he’s at work is choose to do and focus on what appeals to him the most within the array of choices he has available to him in his work. He says that since he’s started doing that, his work has gone much more smoothly and has been a lot more fun.
If you have things you need to do, do them. Just do them in a way that is your highest excitement.
Why does this work?
I’m going to save the answer to that question for next week. For now, if it feels good to you, I suggest you just try a little BTIPing and see how you feel.
The idea that you have to map out your route to get where you want to go is an old idea. It may work for car travel, but it’s not necessary for living a happy and successful life.
In fact, I think too much goal setting is one of the biggest causes of splats because we end up trying to manhandle our lives, and we often manhandle them into splats.
What do you think? Do you have experience with following your bliss or your intuition? Do you think you have to have discipline to get what you want? Or do you think if you let go of the reins, you’ll be led to your best choices?
Here’s Bashar on “highest excitment: