You may have set goals that sounded great when you wrote them down but didn’t realize that you’d actually feel guilty accomplishing them. An example is money. If you were to earn significantly more money than your family and friends, how would you respond when they commiserated about not having enough money to buy the things they wanted, things you could easily afford? Would you keep your mouth shut so no one would be jealous? Would you feel guilty that you have it and they don’t?

Woman Wear Hat On Beach

Or if your goal is to have a leisurely lifestyle on the beach, how would you respond when the people around you talked about how difficult their work life is. Would you feel a bit spoiled? Would you feel you should use your energy to make the world a better place? Would you feel you did’t have the right to lay around on the beach while others suffer? Would you fear being judged for being lazy?

One of my goals is to have 8 weeks of vacation a year. That sounds so luxurious and wonderful. This summer, during a 2-month period, we took 3 week-long vacations. I shared our fun on facebook and someone commented, “What’s up with all the vacations?”

I replied explaining that we had to take all our vacation time during those 2 months and that it was actually a hardship to be gone so much in such a short period of time, trying to balance all our responsibilities. Blah de blah, blah, blah. I felt guilty about taking that much vacation and had no idea I felt that way until I was questioned. There’s little chance I’ll accomplish my goal of having 8 weeks if I felt guilty taking three.

When you first set these goals, they sound so exciting. You may have no clue you’d feel guilty until you’re close to achieving them and start getting that sense. Or you may never know and not understand why you’re not accomplishing them.

One way to become aware of the potential of guilt is to look at people who have already achieved your goal. Do you judge wealthy people enjoying the spa as spoiled and self-centered? That’s a clue you wouldn’t feel comfortable achieving that goal.

If there are certain goals you’ve been trying to attain for a long time and feel like you’re hitting a glass ceiling, look inside and see if the potential for guilty is there. As long as it is, you’ll probably never achieve it. But if you identify the guilt and start working through those feelings, you’ll increase your chance of achieving it.


Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid /

No More Half-Brained Decisions

How many of us make half-brained decisions?

If you’re someone who makes decisions purely from your head and ignores your emotions or how your body feels as you’re considering your options, you’re making a decision with the left side of your brain and ignoring the right.

If you’re someone who doesn’t take time to gather information or think through your options and instead makes decisions based on how you feel, you’re using the right side of your brain and ignoring left.

Right brain left brainPeople who only use the left side of their brain to make decisions tend to go round and round in their heads trying to figure out which is the best choice. It can be exhausting. And if they ignore how they’re feeling about their options, chances are they’ll end up making a decision that doesn’t really work well for them.

Those who only use the right side of their brain and skip collecting the information they need and skip spending time thinking logically through their options can end up making decisions they later regret after getting more information.

In both these cases, people are making half-brained decisions.

We’ve been give 2 sides to our brain for a reason, and each side has an important role in our decision-making process.

The left brain’s role is to collect the information you need to make a good decision. Then it can logically think about your options.

Your right brain synthesizes the information your left brain collected and communicates it to you through your emotions and feelings in your body.

Both sides are important.

An excellent way to make decisions is to:

  1. Collect the information you need to be informed on what you’re deciding.
  2. Think through the information you’ve collected logically and see what you’re left brain has to say about it.
  3. Then connect with how your body feels and what emotions you’re experiencing as you think through each option.
  4. The option that feels the best in your body and emotions after doing the steps above will be the best choice you can make with the information you currently have.
  5. If none of the options feel right in your body and emotions, you may need more information or more options. Talking through what doesn’t seem right with someone can help clarify things too.

Now, the emotional part can be tricky. And this is why many people are afraid to wade into the emotional territory when making decisions. When we’re in extreme emotions, we don’t make good decisions. Think about the last decision you made when you were really angry at someone you love. I bet you regretted it.

Ideally, when we need to make a decision, we work toward a more neutral place with our emotions before seriously considering our options. And if strong emotions come up, we examine what’s behind those emotions. They’re trying to tell us something. Taking the time to process them before actually making the decision is important so that those strong emotions don’t hijack our decision-making process.

A word about fear. A good decision can still be a scary one. Don’t let fear stop you. It’s normal to feel some fear when we’re trying something new.

Even if you tend to be more left-brained or right-brained, using your whole brain you will make better decisions.

The Importance of Taking Time to Reflect

Last night, I went to a meeting of entrepreneurs. There were people there who appeared to have the primary focus of making money, and what they did to earn that money didn’t really matter. Their work was secondary.

For me, my work is primary. I love what I do. I want to be able to share it with as many people as I can. Making money is a tool for me to be able to do my work. For the people I met last night, it was the opposite. Doing their work is a tool for them to make money. It felt really odd interacting with them. It was as if they were standing on their heads talking to my feet as I talked with their feet.

Since leaving the meeting, I’ve taken time to reflect on what I experienced there. Seeing the contrast between their approach and mine helped me become more clear about where I am at with money and where I want to go with it.

Thinking womanIn the past, I have been wary of becoming a slave to money. I lived a very simple life with low expenses so that I could easily leave a job and not feel trapped. Recently, I’ve wanted to come to a more empowered place with money. Taking time to reflect on where I’m at with it and deciding where I want to go is key to getting me there.

I believe having healthy money attitudes is important to enjoying life and work. It’s a tool to help us flourish. Last night’s experience was a gift for me to become more aware of my attitudes toward money. And the clearer I am about money, the more powerfully I can act when it comes to money.

It can be scary to take the time to reflect. We think we’ll get behind in all those things we have to do. But in reality, not reflecting keeps us slaves to our to-do’s. We blindly do them without looking at the big picture and examining if they’s supporting what we really want, and we can’t know what we really want unless we take time to reflect.

If I didn’t take the time to reflect, in this case, on my attitude toward money, I would continue to stay stuck in my old approach of avoiding becoming a slave to it. Taking this time to reflect is giving me an opportunity to develop a new way that’s more aligned with what I want now.

Why Bother Having Goals?

So what’s the point of having goals? Wouldn’t it be nicer to just go with the flow of life and enjoy what comes, turning away those things we don’t like and taking in what we do?

That sounds so nice but when I do that, I feel lost at sea, blowing in the wind following whatever might be in front of me. When I live that way, my energy gets drained. I feel dissatisfied. And I feel like I’m wasting my life.

Whereas when I set a goal, I experienced the satisfaction of seeing my progress as I work toward it. The actions I take have meaning to me in the context of the goal. It’s very fulfilling.

Choosing to have goals doesn’t mean you can’t go with the flow of life. That’s one of the things I don’t like about traditional goal-setting. In the traditional way, you set a goal, make a plan, and put together a rigid schedule. And then you make yourself accomplish it no matter what.

When I set a goal the “Surfing Your Enthusiasm” way, I experience the flow of life like a boat with a rudder experiences the flow of a river. I set a goal and as life flows toward me, I’m clear about what’s an opportunity and what’s a distraction. When I chose those things that come my way that support my goal, I feel empowered like I’m determining the direction of my life. Just like that boat determines its direction.

Boat on the wavesWhen I moved to Albuquerque from my hometown in Chicago, I didn’t have a job. One of my goals was to find a job where I would have plenty of time to enjoy my life outside of work. In the past, I had worked in London. In England, everyone gets a minimum of 4 weeks vacation. I totally loved having that much time off and really didn’t want to go back to the American measly vacation.

Years later after returning from London, I met someone who worked at a university. There she got 5 weeks vacation. She told me many universities are like that. If I hadn’t had set a goal to have lots of time off, I probably would have thought she was lucky having that much vacation, and not seriously considered that I too could have that. But instead, I made a note to myself that working at a university would be a good way for me to achieve my goal.

As I researched job opportunities in Albuquerque, I realized the University of New Mexico was located there. That became my number one choice for where I wanted to be employed.

I did apply to other organizations. A private company offered me a job where I’d have one week of vacation the first year, then I’d go up to two. Whoop dee doo. If I hadn’t had set the goal to have lots of time off, I may have taken that first offer. But I decided to give myself more time to see if I could get a job at UNM which I did and got my 5+ weeks of vacation each year!

Do you like setting goals? Or do you avoid them? How has this affected your life? Are you happy with your results?

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