Goal setting…

I’ve written before about my compulsion practice of setting goals, breaking them into actionable steps and methodically moving forward to reach each one. As the school year approaches, I find myself looking at the newest planners, thinking about shiny new notebooks, and dreaming about new goals. In my world, late August is the beginning of a new season.

This year, however, I am resisting the urge to set new goals. Although I could come up with a few, those that I am thinking about seem to be hollow in this new season. After the past few months, I don’t really have any desire to climb a mountain, earn another degree, or run a 5K. Our house is good. We don’t really need much these days. I will continue to clean and sort out the house after the summer ends, but for now, I can’t think of one more thing I really want to do.

There are some other things, more inner things, that need my attention. My soul needs some space to continue to heal. My body is regaining strength and vitality, but it still needs some grace to just be. It feels like my whole life is simply yearning to be where I am. To cease the striving for more, and rest here in this quiet space.

I tend to be a take life by the horns kind of girl, so this is a shift for me. I’ve often said that if I were a Transformer, I would be a snow plow. My first inclination is to make a way forward. Always forward. I think in the aftermath of cancer and my worlds’ tectonic shifts, I am wondering where on earth I would rather be, than right here. So, I’m settling in for a bit.

In this quieter space, I’ve been thinking about the big questions of life, about what matters…to me. I’ve been thinking and questions like, “Who am I?” and “What do I want?” I’ve been trying to get beneath the surface of my life to the deeper places. It seems like a good time for a tune up. A chance to settle down into the deep spaces, to identify things that no longer serve me, and reconnect with those that make me unique.

I’ve read enough spiritual memoir to know that crossing the line into your fifth decade can bring some unsettling new awareness. Recognizing that I have more days behind me than before me, is a startling reality. Saying a final goodbye to a parent also brings a reorientation about the future of things. Adding a stunning cancer diagnosis to these already huge life milestones broke me open in ways I cannot explain.

It seems that I’ve walked over a threshold. On this side, many of the things I’ve spent my life pursuing seem thin and worn. I wonder if the ways I’ve lived my life, spent my energy, and engaged with the world will suit me moving forward. I recognize worn spaces that need attention and care. I am staring down some old fears that hold little power here.  I am leaning into love and grace. I’m letting myself be… me.

It seems like much of my goal setting has been to try and make myself a more acceptable, thinner, better educated, more generous, kinder version of me. I’m so glad I have set those goals and taken those journeys, but here on this side, I wonder what would happen if I simply allowed me to be. I wonder who I could be without all the pressure to perform. I wonder what life is like when it is simply celebrated. I wonder how I could love people from a place of abundance rather than need. I wonder how else I could live.

For the past week or so, I’ve been writing my hope for the day on the tender side of my left wrist. Each morning, I prayerfully consider what I want or need and then in tiny script write a single word to capture my hope. I’ve written lots of words there over the past days: peace, joy, fullness, health, stamina etc. Each word symbolizing my need or desire for the day.

Yesterday, I read a line in a book that shook me to my core. The character said, “let’s see what happens.” I know, earth shattering right? Yet for me, the idea of being passive in my life and allowing life to unfold in its own way is rather revolutionary. Maybe rather than setting goals and striving to shape my future, I can just wait and see what happens. This morning, I wrote this small phrase on the inside of my wrist. Each time I see it, I am reminded that there might be another way to be in my life. I think I’m going to give it a try.

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