What if You Ditched Your Safety Net?
I’ve been reflecting on how much we plan out our lives — whether that’s the form of goals, or new year’s resolution, or just vague plans we make.
I didn’t make any resolutions this year (I make fewer and fewer as the years go by).
I set very few goals in my business. What I like to do is reflect on the people I’ve spent time with and celebrate the connections I’ve created. Here’s to more of that, right!
Here’s why I don’t like goals…
I’m preparing a seminar with a colleague for a network of coaching professionals, and it struck me how much we use structures as a kind of scaffolding for life.
My working title for the seminar is ‘Coaching Without a Safety Net’, and I thought it would be fun to ask you to play with the concept of living without a safety net, especially if you’re someone who likes to set a vision for your year.
What would it look like to live without a safety net?
The reason for the seminar is to support new coaches to move from relying on the tools and techniques they’ve been trained in, towards a place of deep presence.
I know that if the coach is thinking about tools and techniques they are not fully listening and not fully responding to the problems and challenges of the person in front of them. The toolkit becomes a safety net “in case they don’t know what to say.” And that is never a great place from which to start a coaching conversation.
The coach — and therefore the client — is missing out on the magic of what can be co-created in a truly powerful and loving relationship.
It’s the same in life.
If you think that setting goals, and creating a vision board is going to help you create the life you want, then reflect for a moment on this question:
How can you possibly know what is over the horizon?
The reality is that we have no idea what will happen tomorrow and or the next day. Everything we plan, at the time we plan it, is as imaginary as the fairy tale you might tell a small child.
Your planned future is preventing you from finding out what could happen when you allow ‘life’ to have a role in that co-creation.
Goals are fun, for a minute or two.
Sure, it can be exciting to create resolutions and goals; you can get a warm, fuzzy feeling from your vision board. What you’re really doing is living your life as if those structures are a safety net — something to give you stability in an ever-changing, unreliable world.
What would happen if you let go of those plans?
What if you were open to the flow of the opportunities that emerged?
What if you responded to what showed up, and allowed things to unfurl in a more organic way?
Where could that take you?
The right place to use goals…
Goals and targets and plans have a place — but it’s usually when we want to communicate and work with other people — we don’t want complete chaos as we engineer our business or career.
As soon as you start to use those same tools to describe what you want in the future, you’re limiting yourself.
I described it to a friend recently as being a room and thinking the garden we can see out of the window is what is ‘out there’ and therefore we focus what we want to create on what we can see.
We can only imagine as far as we can see (or have seen), and yet there is a whole world out there full of experiences that we haven’t even imagined.
Why limit yourself to what you can see?
In my experience, there is always more than I can imagine ahead of me. New connections that turn into new projects, new friends, travel and laughter.
When we show up like this in life, it’s possible to have soooo much more fun (important to me!) and also so much more impact — because we can respond to opportunities that happen to us, rather than having to go and sell ourselves or our ideas.
There might not be a safety net, but there’s a lot more joy and it’s a much more graceful way to do business!
Ready to try it?
Are you a goal-setter? How’s that working out for you? Do those goals feel as exciting as when you set them? Have you achieved them yet? Dropped them? Is it just one more thing to feel guilty about??
Maybe, as the year unfolds, you can play with the approach of living without a safety net, setting a direction and being open to what shows up.
I promise it will help you will make a bigger difference in the world if you do.
P.S. If you want to talk about how this approach might work for you, then drop me an email at info at cathypresland dot com and I’d love to offer some suggestions.