Rethinking, Planning and Goal Setting

Ego’s Arrogance Believes it Can Predict the Future

Heresy? My ego screamed at me . . . All my life the self help gurus have been harping at me, saying I would be a broken, miserable lout if I didn’t have written goals in detail, engraved in stone. Every New Year, I go through the same routine. Feeling guilt about revising my goals. Sitting down in painful agony trying to determine what it is that I should be doing to please the self-help gods.

But this year was different. I swore off all goal setting and am downsizing all of my planning. Yes, even the morning drudgery I’ve paid homage to for my entire life. And you know what . . . I’m still here, alive and well. I’m not broke, divorced or otherwise impaired by this so-called heresy.

Goal setting: it doesn’t make any sense intellectually at all, there, I said it. Have me arrested, if you must.

Last fall, I read a passage in a book that really set me thinking about why planning and goal setting rarely worked for me and brought me so much anguish and struggle:

“How can the ego-self possibly judge rightly? It would have to have infinite knowledge and awareness encompassing the past, present, and future. It would be required to know in advance all the effects of its judgment on everyone and everything in and with them in every possible way. It would need to be fully aware of our most inner intent at all times and in all circumstances.”
Take me to the Truth, by Nouk Sanchez.

The arrogance of the ego is almost astounding, when you think about it. Planning and goal setting are attempts to predict the future, or to mold and control all of the events in the entire cosmos into exact alignment to its wishes. I’m accepting the utter futility of trying to control the future. Happiness isn’t the art of building a trouble-free life; it’s the art of responding well when trouble strikes. True power comes from management, not control, accepting what is and realizing you can’t control everybody and everything in a calm manner, is the ultimate plan.

Planning sets you up for complete failure. If something minor goes wrong at the beginning of the project, the setback can send one into a complete tail spin, often resulting in giving up and “I’m just a loser,” self talk. Or at the very least, results in some suffering and procrastination.

I’m beginning to trust what is, and allow my inner self to direct what’s next. After all, the ego’s track record has been pretty dismal, causing lots of suffering and unhappiness. I’ve decided that I deserve better than that and I’m doing something about it.

Yes, Yes, I know you must do some planning. A trip that involves some reservations, for example. But, I try to keep any planning restricted to only those things on which I must take immediate action. I sit down and do the necessary planning, with a pencil and paper. I have quit ruminating and mentally trying to rehearse every little detail. I recognize it for what it is, my ego creating chaos in my mind to justify its existence.

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