Wednesday, March 18, 2009

So You Wanna Fall in Love?

Lonely, wounded soul with self-esteem issues and a tendency to prematurely jump head first into relationships seeks emotionally unavailable, commitment phobe for mutually disastrous partnership that will inevitably crash and burn, resulting in tears, frustration, and Internet stalking . . .

If only the maligned fates of relationships were this obvious up front. Unfortunately, they're not, which accounts for both the mayhem and magic we experience. The unpredictability, the surprise, the chase- call it what you will- it propels us all to do some pretty exciting and embarrassing stuff (exciting like start a family, embarrassing like drunk dialing).

So when an astute reader sent along the following inquiry about whether it was possible and/or advisable to set an intention to fall in love and, even, become engaged within a year, I panicked a little. I got cold feet. I stared at the email for weeks . . . OK, months, actually. The question was out of my league, to be frank. Here's what it said:

Do you think it's possible to set a goal to "fall" in love, or to be in a happy, committed relationship within the year?


I was once in a public speaking class, and one of the members, an accomplished and driven businessman, gave a speech about goal setting. He referred to statistics I had heard before, and which I've seen on the Lululemon website. Essentially: people who set goals (in this case it was 3% of a graduating class), live happier, wealthier lives than those who do not. When the 3% looked back on their lives, they felt they had achieved and often times surpassed their dreams. The remaining 97%, who neglected to regularly set and work toward goals, said they felt disappointed in how their lives unfolded.

This story was familiar to me, and I found it inspiring both the first and second time I heard it. However, the business guy ended his speech by saying, "Whatever it is you want- if it's to start your own business, or to travel around the world, or to get married- you need only to map out the steps to attaining your goal, and then get to work." This was new. The marriage goal was something I had not heard before, and I was a little surprised.

Wondering your thoughts?

Thanks,
Jenn

Eventually, I recovered from the cold feet. Sure, it's a lofty question, but not entirely unfamiliar for any of us. Let's start with the subject of goal setting. I believe wholeheartedly that it's an extremely powerful, if not essential process, for living the life you want, rather than a life that "happened to you." But, before I go all Tony Robbins on you (and, let's be honest, no one does Tony Robbins better than Tony, so I won't even try), let me explain. Intentions are not about summoning perfect partners or jobs or NCAA bracket predictions out of the ether. In my opinion, they're more about readying ourselves for the life paths we want. In other words, by setting an intention (the more often the better) to find a wonderful guy or gal, you place yourself in a frame of mind that supports this goal. Truthfully, you can only control your own actions, and actions begin in the realm of intention. Let's be clear, however, intentions require cultivation. If I set an goal to write a book, then, damn skippy, I better start tapping away at the keyboard on a regular basis. If I set an intention to lose weight, then I better quit delving into the pint of Chunky Monkey at 2 a.m. In other words, the speaker you reference seems spot-on to me. If we don't map out specific, tangible steps toward our goals, then we're just pie-in-the-sky dreaming, which can be fun but isn't very effective.

A few more helpful tips for goal setting:
  • Set goals in the present tense, and be specific. Instead of saying, "I will run the Boston Marathon someday," try saying, "I run the Boston Marathon in 2009."
  • Write them down, and take the exercise one step further. How will this intention come to pass? Sometimes, I find it helpful to identify three steps that will get me closer to my desired result. While it raised an eyebrow for you to hear that you could set a goal to find a mate, you probably could easily come up with three ways that might help you meet the right type of person for you.
  • Visualize yourself achieving your goal, especially right before dozing off to sleep at night. What do you look like in this new role/experiencing your goal? How do you act? What are you wearing? Be very specific.
  • Identify the obstacles too. While it's important to be strategic about how you can achieve your goals, it's also necessary to pinpoint which barriers (real or imagined) are holding you back.
It's worth noting that we can only set goals for ourselves, not for others, and given that it takes two people to "live happily ever after," I'm wary of putting the same time restrictions on marriage as, say, completing your taxes. In general, the answer to your question, Jenn, is: by all means, set an intention to fall in love this year, but more importantly, arrange your life and ready your own heart so that this goal is probable. You will achieve it, if it's meant to be. Then, be sure to let me know where you're registered . . .

Readers, what do you think? Can someone set a goal to meet his/her mate? Tell us about a goal you set and how you successfully achieved it.

6 comments:

Butterflymama said...

Sensitive, practical and still very funny...

How do you do you do it, Omgal??

Very sound advice...From what I got you're putting your dreams out there by making it known what you want - setting the intention, getting yourself ready or cultivation, identifying the obstacles and then not being attached to the results or when they happen.

What's so brilliant is the "identifying the obstacles" because you can set your intention and put yourself out there but usually what shows up is exactly what you don't want. I look at it as an opportunity to get really clear about what it is I do want.

And another way of "identifying the obstacles" is who I was being in the past that may have prevented me from meeting "the one" (if there is such a thing). We often take our experience from another past relationship into another if we don't take time to reflect. It takes practice to look at yourself without judgement and ....some good girlfriends to let you vent over a bottle of wine!

Great topic - thanks for your insight!

Anonymous said...

Good stuff RRP

Jenn said...

Omgal... it's Jenn! Thanks so much for posting this. I really enjoyed reading your response.

The only part I'm not sure I agree with is when you said "You will achieve it, if it's meant to be." Up until that point I felt hopeful, and then something about that one line felt empty. It took away the sense of power leading up to it. I'm still not entirely sure what I would have rather read, but I think ... my approach in a situation like this, where it seems I have only partial control, is to cultivate faith.

"Faith" is not a word I heard often growing up. I was raised in a religion-free house, and so my understanding of God and of a belief system has been a process all my own.

Remembering that I have such a wonderful thing is ironically hard to remember. But I'm noticing, as soon as I start to feel despair, whether it be toward a relationship, or a job, etc. - if I can remember to tap into that *sense* - and I highlight that because it is just barely beyond words - I feel righted again. I feel possibility and strength return.

So that's what I'm bringing right now, as often as I can remember, to all of my goals (in addition to the more practical, tangible steps you mention in your post). It's helpful quite simply because it keeps me calm and in awe of life - of all that is beyond my ability to understand. When my vibe is calm, and grateful, I am also more open, and "awake." To get super-new age on you, I feel more like a portal through which my dreams and goals can move through and manifest.

Thanks again! I'll keep you posted...

Jenn said...

PS In this way, I am part of the process from start to finish. My reliance on faith keeps the momentum, as opposed to there only being so much I can do, at which point it becomes a "if it's meant to be, it'll be" situation. I think faith sees things all the way through, even something as daunting as a good relationship. The hitch is that a "sense of faith", just as it is with religious beliefs, comes with sacrifice and commitment, similar to the steps you mention. But the amazing part is that the short term sacrifice oftens leads to fulfillment above and beyond our original hopes. To that, I wonder, if a year will be more time than I need! :)

reece said...

From the ever-jockish OmBro:
In my experience, (yes, I have experience with love for people, not just surfing and beer) falling in love takes a little bit of luck. It's a numbers game - there's X number of fish in the sea, and we all just hope that we swim into that one soulmate. I've known some girls I could've settled down with - the problem? I wasn't in the right position. I wasn't prepared.

A coach once told me "Luck is when preparation meets opportunity."* and my point, echoing OmGal's response, is to put yourself in a position to fall in love. I don't mean speed-dating, or going to ladies' night. Make sure you are happy with you, in body, mind, spirit, work, play etc and on gameday, when Mr. Jenn rolls along, you'll be ready to win!

* Upon further research, this quote is from Seneca, a Roman philosopher. I should've known it wasn't my coach.

Om Gal said...

Hi Jenn:
Thank you again for your inquiry! I am happy that you found my response helpful, and I, indeed, understand your dissatisfaction with my caveat "if it's meant to be;" however, it is not meant to disempower. I want to assure you that this qualifier relates to your desired time frame as opposed to the accessibility of your ultimate goal/intention. In short, I (like you) have every faith that you will find your match, yet I simply believe that the universe has its own sense of urgency. I set my own intentions; I give them an ideal sense of timing, but I, personally, believe that sometimes our biggest, best hopes and dreams arrive in their own time- when we are most ready and in the best place and state of mind to recieve them.

With love,
Rebecca