You may think that this heading is a contradiction. How can we set goals and at the same time not expect a fixed result?
The golden key here is less the result itself but our expectations connected with it.
“Life is what happens while you’re making plans.”
Honestly – how often do things work out the way we planned?
Sometimes it’s even like this: the more we and the more detailed our goals and results are formulated, the less it works out.
On the one hand, this may be due to the fact that the more detailed our expectations are, the less the likeliness that they are all met – but on the other hand it may also be due to the fact that with every detail we try to increase our control on what will happen and get mentallystuck.
We fall into one of the three behaviours and emotions which are, according to Buddhism, the source of most human suffering:
1. Wanting to prevent something (unpleasant) = fear
2. Being unable to let go of something (pleasant) = regret
3. Not accepting something (unpleasant) = rejection
Now, as a consequence, should we stop making plans and setting goals – because they to not work out anyway in most of the cases?
No! Because our goals and plans give our life a direction, we steer it towards what is important to us and how we want to live.
If we don’t do this, we run the risk that “life happens to us” or others make decisions for us – and we end up finding ourselves in situations that we never wanted.
In addition, goal setting is important to have a sense of achievement and mastery – which in turn strengthens our self-efficacy and self-esteem.
So, continue setting goals and planning projects.
BUT – remain relaxed and open, if things don’t turn out the way you planned.
The more relaxed we are in dealing with the unpredictability of life, the more flexible we are navigating through it, the faster we can get up again and look ahead when we have stumbled.
And more ease increases the probability of reaching the goal!
Thus, an open mindset towards results means, setting goals, striving towards the results – but accepting whatever you may end up with.
That could look like this:
Just to clarify: this is not about putting lipstick on a pig! If something is unpleasant, it is unpleasant. Full stop.
It’s about acceptance – which starts with admitting that it is unpleasant and that we feel uncomfortable. No more, no less.
This already creates some sort of relief, clears the mind and we can direct our energy towards the future.
So – plan, stay open-minded and then be happy and celebrate – or accept and learn.
What are your plans this week?
Be good to yourself!