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Setting Inward Goals For The Year Ahead

I was recently asked where I saw myself in five years. My answer was not a typical answer, nor one you might expect from a career oriented person. Nevertheless, it's an answer I fully stand behind, because it's far more important than any title or worldly aspiration.

Rather than something like, "leading a team of designers" or "starting my own company," (which still are things I see myself doing someday) I stated that my focus is simply about cleaning up the mess I've stored inside myself so that I can more fully experience life.

Essentially, in five years, I see myself as someone who more fully experiences and appreciates life, and all the ups and downs that come with it. It's not to say that I will neglect my outer responsibilities or don't intend to advance my career. Quite the opposite. It's the realization that if I don't clean up the mess and work on myself, there will be very few meaningful advances in my career, or any aspect of my life.

So, how will I do that, you ask? I will use the approach I've been learning and writing about in this blog for the past year. That is, I will use everyday occurrences to release the negative thinking and emotional patterns that run my life. This is what I mean by the mess I've accumulated that prevents me from experiencing - let alone enjoying - the eternal present moment.

Today is my 29th birthday, and I figured I'd make it official by writing and sharing my top three goals with you. Notice, none of them have to do with the outer world. They are all inward practices.

1. Let go when there is no benefit to holding on

I will begin with events that have all cost and zero benefit to getting worked up over.

If I inspect my mood throughout the day, the truth is, it often fluctuates based on tiny occurrences. If someone says the wrong thing at the wrong time, I'm triggered. Someone pays me a compliment, I'm back to being okay (until of course I remember the thing that triggered me). I'm sure you too can relate to the volatile nature of your heart and mind.

All throughout our days we're thrown around by the littlest of things. When there is all cost and zero benefit to getting worked up over something, that's when you know it's something to let go. Any and every time something comes up that little Gabe doesn't like (that's the part of me that is used to getting upset), I will use it to remember the teachings of this blog, and let go.

This is what I mean by ridding myself of my personal garbage so that I can enter the present moment with more love and grace. This is one practice I'll be focusing on this year.

2. Put an end to hope and expectations

I've realized that I'm often disappointed because my hopes and expectations don't turn out as planned (go figure). I've also learned that oftentimes I'll subconsciously create expectations for someone or something, almost always to have them violated when the time comes.

For example, just yesterday I had planned to use an electronic prepaid Visa card that I've had for a while. When the time came to use it, the physical store wasn't able to enter the code, so I couldn't pay with it. While this certainly didn't ruin my day, I did spend more time being frustrated about it than I would've liked. Only after did I realize that I had created an expectation all morning to use the card. As soon as that expectation wasn't upheld, I became frustrated.

I intend to be more mindful in noticing when these expectations get created in the first place. Oftentimes it's so subtle, that it's only until after, when plans go awry, that I realize I had expectations in the first place.

In your life, you probably create expectations for the people, places, and things around you, including something as out of control as the weather. Start to notice when your mind does this, and try to let go of them before it's too late.

This brings me to my last goal.