Claiming What You Want & Reverb10

By December 27, 2010 10 Comments

I’m totally delighted to be a part of Reverb10, a project conceived by the fabulous Gwen Bell, and being carried out by the remarkable team of Gwen, Kaileen, and Cali.
Every day during the month of December, Reverb10 offers a writing prompt to help you reflect on 2010 and dream up your 2011. About four thousand people are participating. Each prompt is written by a different author, and I’m honored to be the prompt author today. Here it is:
Achieve. What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today.
Those of you who have read my Goals Guide (now in a snazzy 2.0 edition, by the way) will recognize this concept.
We each get caught up in particular goals —earn x amount of money, get this degree, travel to x exotic place. We write life lists, bucket lists, goal lists.
But underneath every goal, there is a desired feeling. Why do you want to run the marathon? Because you think you’ll have a certain feeling when you do, that you’ll feel strong or triumphant, or whatever it may be.
Why do you want to get that graduate degree? Perhaps because you think you’ll feel more confident with it. Or because it will help you have a particular career…and you want that career because of how you think it will make you feel.
Our goals are instruments. Our brains say, “To get that feeling, go do x. Be y. Acquire z. Complete this. Win at that. That thing out there — that experience or credential or moment will give you that feeling.
The problem: Experiences rarely change how we feel. Psychology research now shows what most of us have experienced anecdotally: life satisfaction cannot be correlated with external achievement, and we humans are very bad at predicting what will make us happy.
So this happens: we work really hard to reach the mountaintop, to make it to graduation or promotion day, and then find it feels nothing like we thought it would. Our goal hypothesis that “doing x will bring me feeling y” is often wrong.
But even if it were right — and some goal you’ve set was going to bring you remarkable feelings when achieved, you can also work on cultivating that feeling now.
Want to feel healthy, and think that being in tip top shape will help you feel that? Fine, get in shape, but also start feeling healthy today. Yup, today. What would you need to do, what would you need to think, what kind of choices would you need to make, to feel healthy right now?
Instead of waiting on a move to a new place, or developing x kind of relationship, or getting to know people, in order to feel “community” or “belonging,” explore what would give you a sense of belonging today. How do you have to see yourself and your current relationships differently? What opportunities—perhaps ones you’ve been avoiding — would you have to take?
It’s subtle, but this isn’t about charging into action. It’s not “DO IT NOW.” It’s really: see how what you really, really want is actually within your reach, and is generated from within.
You see what happens. This wakes us up. To the present moment. To the life around us. To our capacity to feel what we want to feel. To our true empowerment.
Whatever feeling you think your long term goals are going to give you, what if you got really serious about experiencing those feelings week? Today? In this moment?
Of course, there’s a reason why we don’t do this: it pushes us to take full responsibility for our state of being. It means letting go of the safety that comes with feeling dis-empowered, insecure, trapped, bored, stuck, and instead stepping into the more vulnerable territory of finding love, choice, aliveness in this moment. A part of us wants to run for the hills. And another part knows this is where real freedom and real peace lie.
If are intrigued by this concept, go ahead and sign up for the Goals Guide, and it will walk you through approaching your goals this way, step by step.
Hugs, love, and wishes for a year that honors the sacredness at the core of you. (Oh and p.s., I have the most lovely holiday/new year’s gift coming for you next week.)
Join me for Living Your Brilliance: Quieting Your Inner Critic & Reclaiming the Driver’s Seat in Your Work and Life, a virtual workshop January 12 & 26th. If you want to live your brilliance fully in 2011, you don’t want to miss this. Click here to learn more!.

Join the discussion 10 Comments

  • mark says:

    I think I understood parts of this on an instinctual level, but reading it in black & white (with shades of blue!) bring it into a tighter focus for me.

    And for that, I say thanks.

  • Jennifer Hicks says:

    This was a timely prompt for me — I value the opportunity to connect my emotions to my experience! Thanks!

  • Adam says:

    Tara – first off, thanks for the prompt, and thanks for stopping by to comment on my response to it.

    I like how you allowed people to come to their own conclusions, that perhaps achieving the goal was not the most important thing.

    I look forward to rummaging around your site and learning more.

  • {Reverb10} Achievement « Shireen in Between says:

    […] By Alicia After reading Tara Sophia Mohr’s thoughts behind her prompt today, I am thrilled to be participating today in […]

  • Perfect example of this: I tell my boyfriend I am looking forward to 2010 ending. He says, “But you got your Master’s degree this year?” Me: “Yea, but….”
    Yes I felt accomplished and happy it was over, but I didn’t have the extreme happiness I thought I would.

  • Vincci says:

    Thanks for this post, Tara. I came over to your blog because I was stuck on the idea of trying to pinpoint a specific achievement that I wanted to achieve most, but now I see the point of this prompt was to focus on the *feeling* and how to get there today. I will stew on this a little and come back when I post my response.

  • Jean Burman says:

    I came here as well for some kind of insight into the question so I might have some way of answering it… but found way more than I bargained for! LOL So true that we can have the feeling now. I was reminded of that gorgeous scene in The Little Princess where little Sara Crewe paints a word picture of a delicious feast for herself and her little friend impoverished and hungry ip in that cold dark attic [you would have had to see it I guess] but it was profound. Her resilience etc. Okay I’m inspired now… time to go write! Thanks Tara 🙂

  • Masa says:

    Thanks, Tara. I was about to answer your prompt, and noticed, via @reverb10’s retweet, that you had this post about what your prompt was really about.

    Before reading your post, I had brainstormed for things I wanted to achieve in 2011 and what kind of person would achieve them. If I have a better understanding of what that person is like, it’s easier for me to realize I already have potentials to become that person or even that I’m already close to that person.

    So, this part of your post – “It’s really: see how what you really, really want is actually within your reach, and is generated from within” resonated with me.

    Thanks again for reminding us of this important idea.


  • […] and most radically — some immediate.   If you missed it, read more on that whole concept in Tuesday’s post or in greater depth, in my Goals Guide.   Over the past few days, I had the pleasure of […]

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