The Folly of Working Toward Goals

climber2From the title alone regular readers might guess what I’m gonna say next, huh?

You probably think I’ll admonish the futility of “working” toward what we want; point out the ridiculousness of taking the “action” route to make things happen – versus enjoying our way there, or knowing that whatever feels good is the quickest ticket to success.

Which is definitely true. And that is my trademark message.

But that’s not what I wanted to remind us with this post.

This post is inspired by something Gregg Braden said in Spontaneous Healing of Belief (which is the foundation for my GoodVibe MasterMind Groups starting this week).

Braden quotes Neville saying we must “enter the image” of what we want and “think from it” rather than work towards it. Because if we’re working towards it, we’re outside of it.

We’re “on our way” to it, rather than in the experience of it now.

And those are two different vibrations.

Can you feel the difference?

For example, say I wanted to experience a dream come true romance. How I might feel as I met new people, posted profiles online, and looked for signs of my new guy – that would feel different than if I were in the throes of being in the presence of Mr. Right Here Right


The first feeling (for me) would be more “anticipatory,” more like holding my breath than what it would feel like if I were jumping in the car for our first road trip together or surprising him with his favorite coffee from Starbucks.

Very different vibes.  One is “almost there” (or for some people, it’s more like “got a long way to go”) and the other is more like “ahhh, yes, this is it.”

Since we get what we vibrate, when we shoot for a goal and walk the path of progress to it, we’re not vibrating IT. We’re vibrating outside of it or “on our way” to it. That feels different than what we’d feel when we arrive.

Know what I mean?

Braden puts it this way: “There’s a subtle yet powerful difference between working toward a result and thinking & feeling from it.” (He advises we think & feel as if we had already achieved what we want.)

He continues: “When we place our focus on what our lives would be like if our dreams were already fulfilled, what we’re actually doing is creating the conditions within us that allow our fulfilled dream to surround us.”

When you truly understand the power of your conscious attention to rearrange the atoms of reality, this makes perfect sense!

on-top1So the key is to experience what we want as if it were already with us, already manifested. And that is different than “working towards it.”

19th century philospher William James says “if you want a quality or trait, act as if you already had it.” Neville says “make your future dream a present fact.”

Which is why it’s folly to work toward your goals.

Get yourself there first.

Be there, feel it now, do what feels good, and they’ll catch up with you.

They have to. It’s the Law of Attraction.

  • January 4, 2009
  • Traisajam says:

    eHllo Sir!
    I learned something here. Thanks for posting.

  • JM says:

    So…you’ve all got me wondering if I shouldn’t just order some flowers to be delivered to my dressing room on Broadway for my opening night debut….
    can I order a year in advance 😉

  • Pippa says:

    LOL, true, John, you said it so well earlier on.
    Just at the beginning, I am!

  • Peregrine John says:

    Pippa, I love your article you linked! You have Yoda’s lesson (as I call it) down perfectly. Excellent stuff!

  • Pippa says:

    Jeannette, I still wanted to say
    & YOU ROCK!
    I don’t often comment here, but girlfriend, know that what you share really has the gift of so often hitting me right there in my deepest chords, sending vibrations through my entire being. This post came at just the right time for where I am in my journey.
    THANK YOU! I posted about how a different mindset really works, even though I’m still such a newbie.

  • Thauna says:

    I’m trying out this feeling like the relationship I want is already here. “I’m so in love and I feel so loved! So cherished and happy and oh my goodness we have so much fun and laugh so much together!!! woohoo!!!”

  • MaryK says:

    For those looking for a new relationship in 2009, there is a new book out by Arielle Ford (sister of Debbie Ford) called The Soulmate Secret, Manifesting the Love of Your Life Using the Law of Attraction. I picked up a copy today and read the first chapter, and it looks pretty good!
    It was just released this week, so I thought I’d mention it to everyone.

  • Peregrine John says:

    Really? Wow… well, I’m flattered! (I’m also amazed that anything said by long-winded me managed to fit in a twitter message!) Many thanks to Col, and Judy and Jeannette as well – it’s nice when things resonate with people.
    Oh yes, world-changing is going on around this blog, and has been for quite a while… it’s just that now the world is beginning to notice! 😉

  • Michaela says:

    Jeannette, your cowboy boots sound like so much more fun than the wedding ring vision! I like this sentence of yours especially: “… buy the boots, and let the right guy show up to fill them.” 🙂
    It reminds me of the Cinderella fairy tale … did Russ actually have to try those boots on in order to “qualify” as your prince then? 😉
    Well, it’s not so much the symbol itself, right? It’s more like choosing the symbol that evokes all the emotion of the wish fulfilled, isn’t it? Maybe using a song would work here, too, as music can so easily evoke emotions and moods that might get you “in the scene” of the wish fulfilled.

  • Glad it hit home for you, Oribel! Neville does that for me too, in a powerful way.
    John, thought you’d enjoy knowing that the wisdom you share here has made it into even larger audiences! Col is quoting you on twitter!!
    And I wanted to tell a couple of other people from the On My Board post that my dad is quoting and using several of the mantras and affirmations you shared there. I remember one was Kim’s (daughter of the Universe), but there were a couple others I didn’t know right offhand who they were from.
    Anyway, my point being … well, just that … we are CHANGING THE WORLD.
    That’s all. hee hee

  • Oribel says:

    Neville says “make your future dream a present fact.”
    I really like this and can see it working for me already.

  • Indeed, Kristy! “The best way to feel” … feeling it so real! Keep on enjoying that and we will all be seeing you soon. 🙂
    Michaela, I’ve got a client who actually wears the ring! She doesn’t just imagine it, she bought a .. what is it? .. zirconia? ring and wears it during her commute to work! Isn’t that the BEST?!
    To answer your question as to whether that simple vision can really imply a fulfilled relationship – I think that’s a different answer for each person. My fulfilled relationship, for example, is about as far away from wedding rings as a person could get. But it IS easily represented by cowboy boots. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know myself. But when I recognized I was taking certain men home for their boots, I thought – huh. Maybe you could skip the men, buy the boots, and let the right guy show up to fill them.
    I still have those boots in my closet to this day, and my relationships only get more and more fulfilling (both with past ones that still unfold as “exes” and my existing one with my sweetie).
    I really like this train of thought you’re taking me/us on, Michaela … what’s the symbol of the thing that so easily captures what we want to experience?
    Good one!!

  • Michaela says:

    Thank YOU, JM! I’m glad that I could provide something of a little value here. 🙂
    Jeannette, may I ask a question? In your blog post you mentioned Neville and also used the example of experiencing a “dream come true romance”. Regarding that particular “goal” 🙂 Neville makes it very easy: He suggests that if you want to attract your dream partner (and marry him or her), you should just enter the scene of the wish fulfilled and imagine yourself wearing a wedding ring on your finger. It’s such a simple, simple little scene – but is this enough? Can the simplicity of that vision really imply a fulfilled relationship?
    Having said that, I like Neville’s other techniques of “thinking from it” better – like saying “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” or hearing yourself telling your good news to a friend or saying “Isn’t it wonderful?!”
    What are your thoughts on this?

  • Kristy M says:

    I have recently become infacuated with the TV show “Scrubs”… it really is the perfect show (in my opinion.. its hilarious, then at the end heartwarming.. plus Zach Braff is adorable and dorky.. which melts my heart and is so sexy lol). I’ve decided that I want to guest star on this show.. maybe as JD’s little sister :)… and be a guest on Conan O’Brien… and work with Kristin Chenoweth 🙂
    One of my New Years Resoolutions was to “broaden my career”… I love Broadway and want to do it but there are so many other things to do.. be on TV, record an album, be in a movie…. model? haha. and of course, still be on Bway
    Just watching an episode of Conan makes me happy because I can just hear him saying “and we have Kristy on the show tonight…”:)
    It feels so real… and awesome.. which I guess is the best way to feel lol

  • JM says:

    Thank you Col for reminding me to really focus on the itty bitty awesomeness of my world to make it gi-normous!!

  • Col @ life by muse says:

    Peregrine John …. Yes, yes! Love it. Adding it to my personal collection of classic quotes … “I’ve often found, for many years now, that in practice the ‘impossible’ is easier than the ‘very difficult.'” … crediting you! Thanx for the inspiration!

  • Yeah, it’s a liberating thought/realization, isn’t it JM?
    Hey, I just wanted to add a note here that officially thanked everyone for making this one of the top 0.28% blogs. That’s amazing to me, and I love it. lol
    And it wasn’t even a goal of mine. hee hee
    Having a great time with all of you brilliant creators online IS!
    Thanks for being here, everyone. Honestly, you enrich my life so much that I don’t have the words to properly express it. Feel my love, though.

  • JM says:

    I love that Michaela, we DON’T need to set goals in order to do something truly enjoyable…and we always succeed! I absolutely adore that you pointed that out!!!

  • Thanks, Kelly, for making my day! 🙂

  • Kelly says:

    Sent this to one friend who sent it to her boyfriend and many others who are sending it on. Great news travels fast. Significant post again. I honestly do not know how you do it…but I’m awfully glad you do.

  • Michaela, I couldn’t agree more. This is exactly why I feel some sort of slight internal aversion to the word “goal.”
    Thanks for putting this in words! I’m sure many are resonating with the ideas you shared here!

  • Michaela says:

    Hi everyone! 🙂 Maybe it’s even the “folly of having goals”, Jeannette? I remember an article by a selfhelp writer from Switzerland (his main premise is “the world is what you think it is”) and he says that people usually set goals when they don’t really enjoy the process of obtaining their goals/desires. This is why they need a plan, a strategy and something to hold themselves accountable to. Most people don’t need to set “goals” for doing something fun like eating a delicious dinner, reading a good book, playing a fun game, watching a great movie, … He also says that goals often seem rather intimidating to us because there are so many things we have to do before obtaining our desire. His suggestion: You know what you’d love to have or do since that vision (I like that word better than “goal”!) is in your head and heart anyway, so just do what feels good and go that next little easy step you can think of. What feels good to do now. Just one small and easy step that feels good – and then all those steps will add up and you’ll reach your goal joyfully.
    Did this make sense? I always seem to be slightly off-topic when replying here and rather clumsy in explaining what I mean – sorry! 🙂

  • I’m with Judy; I got lit up by the same sentence, John.
    Thanks for it. I’ll be remembering it time and again.

  • Judy says:

    this is perfect! thx!
    I’ve often found, for many years now, that in practice the “impossible” is easier than the “very difficult.” Kind of fun, really.
    and, Mary, this really hit home for me!
    Neale Donald Walsch in Conversations with God, and it says: “You can’t have anything you want.”
    and Abe said this, this morning
    Everything that I think that I need to do is all only in order to propel me to some place that when I get there, I think I will be happier. So, why don’t I take a short cut and just go get happy?
    and Jeannette sent this link to me yesterday
    the word trust comes to mind. It’s a piece of cake when I walk in that place of trust. it just is, yes?
    w/ love,
    and, yeah, all of life leads to blog better and better blog posts! ha!

  • Peregrine John says:

    I had psyched myself out about all the (imagined) steps and work involved in bringing my 2009 business plan to life.
    We are the definition of synchronicity, you and I. That is exactly what I have been freaking myself out over. In fact, to have things ready to roll in time for a big promo event later this month, without letting down other obligations, is patently impossible.
    Well. I’ve often found, for many years now, that in practice the “impossible” is easier than the “very difficult.” Kind of fun, really. So here it comes!

  • Thanks for not only tuning in, Anne, but for also bringing your great vibes to the world!
    MUCH appreciated! 🙂

  • Anne Nayer says:

    I have never actually clicked on your blog though I get a happy feeling whenever your Good Vibes ezine lands in my in-box. I LOVE IT. Loved the blog post and all the comments and I am tickled pink by the phone booth transformation tool – even though I haven’t seen one in years. When I leave the house this morning it will be with my alter costume(s) persona in my beach bag (I live in the tropics) and delight in being the fabulous jazz violinist, the radiantly happily in love woman, the inspirational motivational speaker…. and the beat goes on… Thanks everyone for the inspiration and the good vibes. Right back at you!

  • Good point, Col!
    Here’s to finding the “itty bitty pieces” of it and leveraging that appreciation into a more full time experience!
    Well said, girlfriend. 🙂

  • Col @ life by muse says:

    PS: I have an answer for JM … (By the way I loved the thing about research for the play, providing delicious background material for the song “Your Credit Card Has Been Declined Mam, Can You Provide Another One for Us?”
    I interviewed a LOA teacher last week, who said … (I think Jeannette will probably agree and add some more delicious thoughts to this, she’s awesome! 😉 … The best way to attain your new job is to look at everything there is to appreciate about your current job. I always look at where in life I have a tiny itty bitty piece of what I want and focus on that and talk it up and appreciate the hell outa it. Then it begins to expand. Truly it does.

  • Col @ life by muse says:

    What a perfect and wonderful description of how to envision the things we aspire to … from INSIDE. Oh, this is SO very it! *SO* it! My insides are screaming, “yes! yes!” right now. Thank you for enhancing our experience Jeannette! You truly rock.

  • Good question, JM. You know that ride in the elevator? You can take that ride as the broadway queen. You can dial the phone as a success actress. You can eat your lunch as the hottie who’s got a brawny boyfriend on the side.
    We can sprinkle that “as if” energy throughout the day! Doesn’t have to be 24/7 to make a difference!
    Good question – thanks for posing it here!

  • JM says:

    Well well well…I must say…when I read this last night I was giddy and excited once again to really DO THIS and start walking around my world feeling and acting “as if” I am everything I want to be and have succeeded at everything I have wanted for so many years now. It fits right in line with my main new intention which is to be fully present and grateful for everything as it is right NOW. Shortly after, I ended up finding the facebook profile of an awesome up-and-coming Broadway singer/actress and found myself in awe of her world…complete with a sexy brawny (hard to find in this profession) up-and-coming talented boyfriend. Essentially the life I was about to start “living”. So I woke up this morning and rushed onto my commute. I usually incorporate some affirmations/meditations as I ride to wherever I am off to. So I stood on the packed N train thinking about how I was going to act “as if” today and experience my Broadway dreams in the now. Suddenly anxiety hit when I remembered I was on my way to my temporary data-entry job where they were going to ask me to run people’s credit cards all day and call to check up on payments. Suddenly I tried to imagine how I could possibly experience my true life as I typed in codes for thousands of reams of fabrics. How could I imagine my brawny Broadway boyfriend and I getting ready for our opening night while I was missing any auditions this week (and month) since I was at a Mon-Fri 9-5? Well…this proved daunting, and I certainly wasn’t sure how to get around that.
    As I took the elevator to the office to begin following up on our credit card transactions I took a moment and imagined that I am that girl in that facebook profile. I am her, and right now I am working this job to do research for my new show, and the next scene was going to provide delicious background material for the song “Your Credit Card Has Been Declined Mam, Can You Provide Another One for Us?”. And it made me laugh…a lot.
    Anyone else having problems with this while they are working at something that is the complete and utter opposite of who you really are?
    I am just doing my best to continue to have a laugh every now and then…and I enjoy living as “myself” when I go home and prepare for other projects…but damn…it’s 40 hours a week, which eats up a lot of time, but I am grateful to have right now.

  • And that sums it up well, Gillian!
    Making it a priority to feel good.
    So simple, yet EFFECTIVE.
    And for some, not so natural. lol
    Here’s to all of us embracing even better/more than we already have.
    Thanks for posting, Gillian!

  • Gillian says:

    Hi Everyone,
    Happy New Year to all of you! A great post Jeannette and I still am learning to ignore reality and “Be” rather than do, do, do! I like Peregrine’s words:” But instead of seeing everything as a hill to be conquered, see it as a fun journey and each step, task, or whatever it is becomes just a new thing to explore and enjoy.” I really need to keep that in mind. Instead of getting anxious to fullfil and work towards our New Year’s resolution, why not just enjoy the ride and having fun with each step. Just make it a priority to feel good! Thanks for the eye opener!
    Much love, Gillian

  • Wow, I read this, Mary and thought “smart girl!”
    Yes, important distinction there, huh? Thanks for reiterating this point (about feeling it now, rather than feeling the “want” of it) in a powerful and memorable way!

  • MaryK says:

    As always, great post Jeannette!
    I read a fascinating quote this morning which really got me thinking. Apparently it comes from Neale Donald Walsch in Conversations with God, and it says: “You can’t have anything you want.”
    At first I got really upset when I read that and I was saying to myself, that’s not true, the LOA says you can have anything you want!! But then I read it a few more times and I got the real meaning of the sentence:
    “You can’t have anything you WANT…”
    Meaning that as long as we WANT something, we keep it at bay and it can’t enter into our lives. It is only when we hold the vibration of HAVING something that it makes its way into our lives. And that reminds me of what you are saying in this post, that we have to work from something (or act as if we already have it) rather than working towards something… brilliant! 🙂

  • Very creative techniques, Judy!
    I have to admit, the phone booth one strongly appeals to me.
    Thanks for sharing these with us! 🙂

  • Judy says:

    Hey J, hey all!
    This is a fabulous reminder, thanks! I totally relate to Neville’s “enter the image” idea. I like the physical sensation of stepping into an image. This gets me/others out of our head, and into our bodies.
    For example, some days if a reality seems just a step or two outside my range, I imagine myself slipping into an outfit-like a fire fighter’s suit, or a ski jumper’s nylon thingy, or my surf shorts/top!
    I also like to imagine a Star Trekian body energy field (you know, the beam me up Scottie type) that comprises the desired qualities/energy and step into that- trying on the feeling/being. ..
    Just a few fun tricks I use to “step into” being that circumvents my mind! YEAY! . .. and speaking of which, I’m going to go step into may saavy business self! oooh, just had a superman image-you know, the whole phone booth moment.. . .lol
    much love to all,

  • Iyabo Asani says:

    Great New Year’s Post Jeanette.
    It reminds me of something I read in Marci Schimoff’s book, “Happy for No Reason.” She talks about her conversation with a gentleman a few years ago where she found out that he had done research as to the meaning of the word pursue in 1776 which was when the American Constitution was written. He said that the word pursue was more commonly used back then for the word practice as we understand it. So she said that we have a constitutional right to practice happiness continually. That was the real meaning of the term, “the pursuit of happiness.”
    If we practice it continuously, it will be easy to think and feel from it.

  • Well said, Iyabo. Huge vibrational difference in “practicing” versus “pursuing”!
    Glad you enjoyed the reminder, Ms Nikki! Thanks for being part of this community, you two. 🙂

  • MsNikki says:

    I oh so heart this timely little post!!!! I get so easily sidetracked trying to figure out how to make “x” happen so I can have “y” effect. So much so, that I often lose sight of the goal itself! I get caught up on the action and feel pressure to do something, anything! Enter frustration, lack of motivation, and other unhappy/not so shiny feelings!!!!
    Thanks for keeping LOA hope alive!

  • Indeed – the timelines we’ve bought into, huh? Have you heard that the Buddha was able to grow seeds into mature plants right before people’s eyes? (Contrary to what James Ray shared in The Secret – that it “takes time.”)
    That would be a cool way to stop believing in how long something takes!
    Thanks for posting, Kim. 🙂

  • Kim Falconer says:

    I love this post, Jeannette!
    While I read through a second time I got a bingo–this is why it takes 4 years of uni to get a degree or 6 weeks for broken bones to mend or 3 minutes to soft boil an egg. The whole reason we experience a ‘buffer of time’ is because our cultural paradigm has a consensus reality built up around the idea that we have to work towards a goal.
    We think it takes time, so it does. We think we have to strive for …. so we do.
    I’m thinking it’s all right here right now, if we relax and open our eyes. 🙂

  • John, I’m laughing out loud because as I read your note I realized I had psyched myself out about all the (imagined) steps and work involved in bringing my 2009 business plan to life.
    K, reconnected with Easy and living FROM it, not working towards it. he he
    Thanks for inspiring the conversation, John!

  • Peregrine John says:

    Hm. In retrospect, I should have written that after coffee. Hopefully it’s not too full of holes to make sense. 😀

  • Peregrine John says:

    Perfect timing, as always. Freaking perfect.
    You know, it’s not just manifestation effects that it helps with: any positive-thinking motivational coach would be on board with this sort of thing merely from a psychological perspective. People freak themselves (or ourselves… oh, what the heck: I’m talking about me) out about what steps need to be taken, get themselves braced and ready, and then basically set themselves up for serious demotivation. But instead of seeing everything as a hill to be conquered, see it as a fun journey and each step, task, or whatever it is becomes just a new thing to explore and enjoy.
    That’s the real meaning of what Yoda said to Luke in the swamp: “No – try not! Do or Do Not. There is no ‘try’.” It’s not that failing means you didn’t make a proper go of it, which is how it’s so often used. No, Luke was approaching things from the point of view of impossibility and disbelief (“That is why you fail.”) and said, “Well, I’ll try…” as though he’d said, “This isn’t going to work.” And of course, with such things, that makes it true. It’s not a light that goes on when the switch is flipped even if you’re convinced it won’t. The only way for it to work is to tell the swamp-sunken starship that it already is working.
    Thus do I remind myself as often as I can remember to, and slowly learn it’s true. I think the above article will help enormously.
    In any case, it’s nice to know that the right approach invokes much more powerful forces, too.

  • “Demand numbers!” Leslie, that reminds me of a book I read that advised that as the best way to create success. Get a little FEISTY with it!
    I may try this next time I’m in the mood to stamp my feet and get what I want. ha ha
    Thanks for sharing, my friend!

  • Leslie Richter says:

    I was sharing with my friend Jenny my “demand” for angelic help “financial help” from my father and to send me a sign. So…she laughed at what manifested for me…and then she got talking about letting go after we put out a request.
    The thing I realized was when I do these “demand” numbers I am in it – exactly as you described, I know I have guidance love and protection. There is no hook up. I stamp my feet and then get on with the day. I am realizing it actually isn’t the stamping the feet that is working it’s the clarity of the moment. Mind you, sure does feel good to stamp my feet.
    Love Leslie
    Love Leslie

  • >