monk_meditation_hd_widescreen_wallpapers_1280x800-300x187The wind up of a year in my world looks like the gathering of evidence and assessing how it went.  It looks like planning for the next year and creating budgets and goals and strategic plans.

Then, inevitably,  it looks like me struggling immensely with nearly the entire process because so much of it is in contrast to what I really believe, how I really want to live my life, what my gut tells me.

The goal setting and “planning”… defining what we want things to look like.. it all makes me totally sick if I am telling the truth.

I constantly weigh the effectiveness of a plan versus the spiritual practice and satisfying adventure of living in the present moment and I find the violent collision of the two different approaches leaving me feeling out-of-place with no tribe, alone and outnumbered.. like a guy straddled between two worlds who doesn’t know which one to choose…..Even though I am certain without a doubt the middle path is where my life always works effectively, I still find myself caught up in the struggle, wishing I could pick a team.

The struggle is so big for me this year it’s become visible to everyone around me.   I recently had someone suggest I couldn’t make up my mind between being a monk or a capitalist…  truth is, I am certain my work is to bring the best of both to each other.. but it’s a lonely road.     mcdonalds

I’ve been interviewing people who have a wide range of thought about how they approach this delicate balance of present moment mindfulness vs. future planning.  I even recently lead a workshop on the subject, uncovering what people really want their lives to look like and then dissecting what behavior and tools are necessary to make sure that happens…. I found most people lie to themselves—they say they want life to look a certain way, then when we talk thru what it will take to make that happen, they don’t want to do the work—meaning they don’t really want it.

They discover that to Chop wood and carry water requires constant focused effort that doesn’t necessarily feel good 100% of the time.

In preparation for this inevitable yearly process, I came up with numerous approaches to business planning and goal setting—I even dissected the value of goals versus non goals and I came across some fascinating research on establishing principles and core values versus goals as way to guide you…  I’m not sure one way is better than another, I am sure that what works best for you always works best.

I’m still wrestling with all the approaches I came up with.. even the ones I taught lots of other people to go thru…  it’s still not satisfying my personal struggle.  I still feel restless, without clear direction and concerned about how to chart our course.

I run multiple companies.  Every book, business expert and coach in the world says I need a clear and focused mission and vision; I need to be purposeful and on task so that everyone else can be too.  It’s the only way to grow.   My people depend on it.  Our success is literally contingent upon it.

But I just can’t.

Truth is, I never have been able to do it (even though every single year I try so hard… )   It’s simply not how I’m wired.

I just can’t shake this belief that where we end up is a result of a belief system, it’s result of how we make our choices each day, it’s a result of the way we live moment my moment, how we treat each person, what we wake up committed to each day.  I want us to be as fucking awesome as we possibly can today and for me, that requires not being attached to any pre-determined destination but rather, hell-bent on being the absolute best I can be today, being as kind and committed and awake and adding as much love to the moment and the planet and the person in front of me as I possibly can.

It really is about following guiding principles to achieve strategic goals, not instead of.  Rather than defining how many dollars, I’m more interesting in making sure we do things like be certain we love what we do, fiercely help others, build relationships and trust, be curious and grow, celebrate.   I am absolutely certain that the dollars will be the result of how well we do this each day.  I believe that if we authentically loved who we were and what we did each moment, then what we become will be just as noble because why obtain a goal if it’s not built on the daily behaviors of nobility? I just don’t want to.

Don’t get me wrong. I have multi-million dollar budgets and I’m hard-core about following them.  I have plans and a noble vision… .  I’m not all kumbaya… but tell me, this:  if we focus entirely on our core principles, are we likely to fail? I think not. And, if we did fail as a result, I would feel proud of how we showed up anyway.

Many people would rather be right than compassionate.

I would rather be compassionate than right…

related essays:

If your awesome, be awesome

Right livelihood; Why a big business is an essential part of a spiritual life


  • Shawn Strach

    What if your core values changed to the just what you said? Belief system, how we treat people everyday, building relationships, growing. Are these in the current list of Core Values?

    • path guy

      They are— the dance is in getting multiple definitions in a large group to lean into the same rhythm at the same time. I always resort back to these guiding principles and it’s always worked out of for me. happy. 🙂

  • Susan K.

    This post was meaningful to me. I got my RE license in 2004 and had a great few years, I really enjoyed (most of) my clients, and enjoyed going above and beyond in all of the interesting situations that RE can bring. I cut my commission in order to help a couple on a shoestring budget afford their first home, and although my broker almost killed me, every time I run into them in the neighborhood, they thank me. Another couple hadn’t had any showings in awhile so they (understandably) slacked off a bit on keeping things clean; when a very good prospective buyer wanted to take a look at their house while they were at work, I went over and cleaned it for them, and was able to bring them a great offer that evening. That same couple had told me that their dream home was not for sale; I went an knocked on the door of the “dream home” and after I introduced myself, the owner said it was like I was “sent from heaven” because they needed to sell immediately, it’s amazing how that deal worked out for them all. Unfortunately, the market tanked shortly after I had just got going. I started working with a broker who specialized in foreclosure properties and I had to do the “grunt work” for her, such as changing locks on peoples houses and attending evictions along with the sheriff. Luckily I wasn’t the primary breadwinner and was able to quit that job, because with every lock I changed, I felt that I was killing my soul. I went back to school and I’m finishing my Human Services degree. There are not a ton of jobs to be had, although I’m just starting really seriously looking because the degree is almost complete and grad school is not out of the picture, although the student loans are accumulating. I was thinking about my years in real estate, and I wish that there was a position called “client nurturer” because looking back, what I really enjoyed and was happiest doing was making my clients feel well, happy and as peaceful as possible.

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