Over the last number of years, I’ve noticed that my usual driven way of attacking my life has not worked well for me. If I were a car, I would have had my engine set to rev even at idle.
At some point I realized that the goal-oriented way I was socialized—that all of us in the Western world have been socialized—actually made things harder. As someone with many projects/passions/interests, I got a rush from setting goals and planning out steps. I loved putting target dates on my calendar and making out lists. (Still do!)
But when it came right down to it, being fueled by adrenaline was not good for my health.
Then there were all the times I fell short and beat myself up, or ended up needing to move all my targets around because I missed one.
That old system started to seem incredibly wasteful, as I got in touch with its cost, and looked at the results. Could I get to the same place with greater efficiency, ease, and joy?
I couldn’t figure out exactly what to do differently, but I knew the word “goal” had become tainted for me. Even “setting intentions” seemed dicey. I started to lean toward words like “commitment” or “pledge” to define what I had decided to do. And yes, I still wanted take action in service of a commitment to myself or others. (I still have many many things I want to put out into the world.)
What to do? I didn’t have a new framework in place that worked.
Penney Peirce’s book Leap of Perception has given me fresh perspective and an alternative path to explore. Willpower, she says (the heavy foot on the gas pedal) is old school, because it assumes that we are outside of All That Is, outside of what we want to bring into our lives. She calls intention “attention with willpower added,” and declares the addition unnecessary, a defunct habit.
But if we experience ourselves enfolded in with everything, part of a holographic universe, creation is a matter of soft attention. Our next right action emerges based on moment-to-moment nudges that invite a resource/experience/project/etc. to form. It happens not through force, but through connection.
Others have talked about this, including Martha Beck—how aligning with what wants to be born allows it to emerge in effortless partnership with you. But I never quite got it till now: How resting in the present moment, paying attention, holding a vision gently, taking inspired action—all come together in bringing something into form.
In my recent Full Attentional Living series, we did an experiment to feel the physical difference between applying force and universal love. As Martha Beck demonstrates in this video, the latter is monumentally stronger.
It may seem like Jedi-level stuff—connect to Flow and melt your “opponent’s” resistance!—but anyone can experience it by tapping into a sense of unconditional love, perhaps for an animal companion.
And knowing that, why would I think I need to continue exercising my willpower to power through my tasks?