Turning goals into experiences gets you there
I’ve been pondering how to go from goal orientation to experience orientation. Do you sometimes get into the same haze? Where goal fixation can invite paralysis?
Experience fixation, ahem, fixes that.
I’ve noticed a few things I do well are the result of a series of satisfying actions. These recurring actions — generally recurring every day — deepen the experience to such a degree that the goal then becomes superfluous.
The goal is attained, sure, almost as an afterthought, as a consequence of really luxuriating in the things that get me there.
It is the deepening pleasure of the repeated experience that drives me unerringly to the goal.
Let’s talk examples.
First, exercise. I’d always been active until a period about ten years ago where I fell out of the habit of movement, except that frenetic kind of movement you do when you lumber about your day doing what you do — in my case, running an art gallery. For around two years! Two-ish years of sloth living took its toll.
A photo woke me up. I was standing next to a heavy friend in the photo and you couldn’t tell who the lean one was — because the lean one wasn’t there!
After a bit of shrieking — Where is my lean self?! Who stole my youth? Who is that pastry-faced puffed-out piffle-man who resembles me? — I began a walking program.
It was all I could muster. And — significance alert — I enjoyed it.
Also, I started tracking my walking routine in my planner. This was critical — you can’t lie to yourself and say you’ve done enough when your tracking system is telling you otherwise.
Pssst: Tracking is the ultimate lie detector program.
What’s more is that not only did the walking become immensely enjoyable, rich with its own rewards, so did the tracking.
Over the years that walking program evolved into a weekly commitment of 3+ hours of movement, in whatever form. I like the flexibility, I like the variety, and so do my body and brain. It could be walking . . . or it could be yoga or biking or swimming or kayaking or treading water or intense play with my kid in the yard or some other activity.
It does not include sex but from the heart-healthy benefits I read about, it should. Yes it should.
When I committed to a meditation practice, I tracked. I found enjoyment in the process, of meditation and of tracking.
When I began writing a book, and then this blog, I tracked. The goal — writing a book, writing a blog — became the experience of writing. Every day. Tracking isn’t focused on time as much as, did I write today? And — did I publish the number of posts I’d like to this week?
The action experience had to be juicy in itself. Or else how am I going to go at it again and again?
It is the experience I’m after. If I groove into the experience of movement or writing or meditation or some other mental-spiritual practice then the daily incremental actions propel me into surging momentum. Crafty, eh?
The process — enjoyable experiences repeated often — unwinds itself inevitably into the desired result.
So now I immediately look for the experience that can be relished — repeatedly — that will lead me naturally to that which I seek.
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