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Goal Setting: Beware of Invisible Cows

– Posted in: Achievement Orientation, Adaptability, Emotional Intelligence, Emotional Self-Control, General, Self-Awareness
Mauna Kea Marker _320

Mauna Kea is one of the mountains on the Big Island in Hawaii and we had a chance to drive up to the base visitor center on December 30, 2011.

What was amazing about that day was that we went from a tropical setting at sea level to a sub-arctic setting at approx. 9600 feet in elevation in a single day.  We experienced several climate zones in that climb going from Hilo which was a tropical paradiseHilo 640, to the Onizuka Center For International Astronomy visitor centre at Mauna Kea where we saw warning signs about snow hazards, fatal falling ice and being trapped in severe winter storms.

It was surreal enough to be on a tropical vacation and reading about snow hazards, and then I saw this sign, posted on the wall to Beware of Invisible Cows.

“Dark colored cows are often invisible in darkness and/or fog. Use extreme caution and drive very slowly in this open range.”

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As I’m setting goals for 2015, I can draw a few lessons from that day.

  1. Setting goals means you’ll be elevating yourself and going beyond where you are today – you’re stretching your comfort zone, your mindset and likely your skill set, and developing yourself personally.
  2. As you make that climb, you will have moments of darkness – doubts, challenges, fears.
  3. These “dark cows” may wander around invisibly in your mind and could throw you off your path unexpectedly if you speed along without caution.
  4. Using extreme caution and driving slowly means taking the time to slow down when those dark thoughts come, so you can see them and work around them.

The dark side of goal climbing – not all rainbows and unicorns.

At this time of year, right at the beginning of a new year, it’s fun to set goals and see where the next 12 months might take you.

But it’s not all rainbows and unicorns as we like to say in my house.

There will be moments of questioning and doubt, where failure seems more probable than success, or where working towards that goal that excited you so much in the beginning  just feels “meh” now.   Growth, whether going up the career ladder, learning a new skill, or inner spiritual growth, has a way of bringing up inner issues, maybe even from earlier experiences where they were stuffed down and not dealt with due to circumstances.  It’s like they are seeking a way to get resolved and re-solved.  They may show up as fears, nay-saying, complaints, excuses, feeling like a fraud, or procrastination.

Or perhaps from a mindfulness perspective, they are just the mind or ego speaking their illusions?  (Observing your mind’s illusions seems to be a common theme in the four books I’m reading currently — “Stillness Speaks” and “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle, “Creativity, Inc – Overcoming the unseen forces that stand in the way of true inspiration” by Ed Catmull, President of Pixar Animation, and “A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even if you flunked algebra)” by Barbara Oakley, Ph.D.  All of these books speak to how your mind can deceive you and give advice for observing the mind’s manipulation of reality.)

My advice?

Slow down and use extreme caution so you can see clearly.  These are the very thoughts that if solved and re-solved now, will clear your way of obstacles. 

For all your goals.

For the rest of your life.

As you set new heights for 2015, and have a ton of fun achieving all your goals, keep an eye out for where personal growth may be taking you.

An awesome double win is one where you slay an inner dragon (or dark cow if you’re cruising around Mauna Kea) and one where you feel that “high” of accomplishment.

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Me  in my winter toque from the Mauna Kea Observatory gift shop. It’s one of my favourite souvenirs from Hawaii and a great reminder that summits are for climbing.

Sunny Mauna Kea_640

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