Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Confessions from a Coach

Every year at the end of December, I write a recap of the year before in my journal and compile a list of resolutions/to-dos for the year ahead. Sometimes they're lofty ideas, like "Write that book you've been thinking about," and other times they're small but fun like "Attend at least 3 concerts or musicals." I don't know when it started, but one year my list reached 35 items. Ever since, I've felt like I needed to match that number.

Well, every year except this one. 

Confession #1: I am a life coach and I don't have a New Year's resolution list. 

I'm sort of shocked that it's March and I still haven't gotten around to writing one. I mostly finished my 2012 recap, and I've written other entries in my journal. But in between the two are a series of blank pages just waiting for me to document my 2013 to-dos.

The funny thing is, I've been knocking chores off a giant invisible list like nobody's business. While my husband is away working on a film shoot, I've been a virtual single-gal-superwoman, painting and decorating and gardening—at our current house in Hollywood and future home in Santa Ynez. I've squeezed in a 5k at LA's Color Run and have tried a couple new restaurants and some new recipes. But none of these were officially premeditated, set-in-stone goals.

Confession #2: I think it's okay if you just have one goal—to live a really joyful life. 

I know most coaches (and most Americans!) believe that setting and accomplishing goals is the key to happiness and fulfillment. But I think when you make happiness and fulfillment (and I mean true happiness and fulfillment; the kind your deepest, most intuitive self desires) your only goal, all the other stuff falls into place. You end up making choices that support your own best interests; you end up challenging yourself; you end up pursuing your passions. You do what feels good to you. And to me, that's what truly matters this year, and this lifetime.

I'm still going to pen out my resolutions for 2013. And maybe throw some on the list that I've already tackled (like painting closet doors), just so I can cross them off. But I'll do it knowing that my ultimate objective is to have a happy, balanced, laughter-filled year.

Confession #3: If I can keep my eyes set on that prize, I think this year may turn out to be the best one yet.


  1. I used to spend SO MUCH TIME planning my life then judging myself if I didn't meet my goals or feeling smugly successful if I did or disappointed/like a failure if things didn't pan out. This year I gave myself one big goal- EASE. It's been pretty life changing not to have a list I'm constantly referencing. I think this comes with getting older, that my main goal is to live a joyful life and BE PRESENT to the moments that make it up, not constantly looking towards the next big thing I can check off my list. It's quite possible, after the year I had last year, I've all but done all those biggies. ;-)

  2. I wouldn't have always thought this, but knowing what I do now, I think there is no way to set goals appropriate for yourself if you don't know yourself first. That has to be the big thing, because otherwise goals would just be random ideas, for the most part. Like when I was 25, for some reason I thought it would be cool to learn to fly planes, to get a private pilot's license. Oh, my gosh, I cannot stress enough how that was NOT a goal for me. I don't panic in planes, but I don't enjoy it either. I don't like risks, and I don't like paying money for something that makes me uneasy. So what the heck was I thinking? It was because I didn't know myself-- I was 25 and not yet sure whose life I wanted to live yet. I was just thinking of things that were "cool" according to the world around me.

    So, if anyone told me now I needed goals without first knowing myself I would call them a fraud. There is a place for goals, of course, and sometimes those goals do help you know yourself better, but there has to be flexibility. Changing your mind and letting go of some ideas you had has to be allowed. And, by all means, if I tell someone a certain goal or idea makes me feel only bad, I want them to tell me that I'm on the wrong path.

    All of this is to say I agree with you. Minimizing and simplifying the ideas of how you want your life to look, I think, is often the shortest path to getting the satisfaction and happiness you want.

    1. But, isn't setting goals a part of "getting to know yourself" ... and you either fail at achieving them (and learn that's not really who you want to be) or smash through them with astounding success ... either way, don't we learn a little more about ourselves through goal setting. I will say that as we get older and know ourselves better, the choices we make in setting goals becomes certainly more focused based on what we've learned about ourselves!

  3. I think goals are useful when we determine we need gentle guidance in our lives. However, as you've stated, we don't always need a long list of goals to meet (and I'd argue that a task list doesn't always equal goals) and our goals don't need to be super specific to still be useful in our journeys.

  4. It's easy to spend a lot of energy on making lists and run out of speed to do anything. Lists are super helpful for those of us who are floundering...but you seem pretty productive and moving forward!

  5. Such great dialog on this post!

    Sizzle - I love your word for the year. And you're so right about being present. Makes all the difference when we can keep our awareness in the current moment.

    Lesley - I definitely think the more we get to know ourselves, the more in tune we become with the "right" goals - and perhaps the easier they are to achieve. It's pretty darn hard to achieve something you don't really care about! But Nilsa presents a really interesting point about those goals sometimes helping us get to know ourselves. I think if a goal makes you feel straight up icky or annoyed as you start trying to pursue it, it obviously isn't worth seeing through (like the pilot's license). But when I think about my first half marathon (a goal that, at the time, I wasn't sure I'd add to my list again) I quickly see that doing it really changed a lot of things for me - and I went on to do more races. I would say your gut is your best guide when determining what you want to do. Even if your brain isn't sure how well it knows you...

    Nilsa - You're right that a task list doesn't equal goals. I think I just like task lists because they feel more measurable - you just cross them off! :) Although I know I should set some larger goals - like bringing more joy into day-to-day life - and then measure those. Kind of like you do!

    MissMcCracken - I think the key is taking what we call in the coaching world "turtle steps." Teeny, manageable, not-overwhelming steps so you don't run out of steam. Slow and steady wins the race, right? ;)