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“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”
- Albert Einstein

Like many people, I’ve been thinking about the new decade and what I’d like to change. I’m not starting with a list of goals. In fact, I’m not even starting with a single goal.

Instead, I’m starting with a scent.

I used to start the new year with a goal or a single goal and forever failed to realize the change I was looking for. My goals were always dry. Boring. Predictable. Tired. They lacked vision and meaning and emotion and possibility—the very qualities I need to feel sparked and alive.

Having the SMART goal concept cemented into my brain by every success-guru, I’d make my list:
1. Lose 10 pounds by July 15.
2. Make $5,000 more by Nov 15.
3. Buy new living room furniture with my new money by Dec 31.
4. And so on….

Year-after-year, I’d raise my champagne glass to ring in the new year and the fact that I was no closer to my goals. What I had begun to overlook was the fact that in spite of all of the goal-setting, I had become even less clear about what I really, I mean like truly-willing-to-die-for, wanted.

Thanks to a string of failures several years ago, I finally stumbled upon a different approach.

I'd had four miserable jobs in a row and I decided it was time for a career change. Normally, I would have added: #42: Get new career, in The Annual Re-Typing of the List of Goals. But, as I wasn’t entirely clear about what I wanted to do, I struggled to turn it into a perfect SMART goal. So, instead, I closed my eyes and in an effort to summon the specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-oriented goal to my brain, I was unable to con cen trate. My mind wandered, avoiding the stale task at hand and all I could think about was what my new career might smell like.
And what it would sound like.
And what it would taste like.
And what it would feel like to touch it.
And what it would look like.

It wasn’t a smart goal, but it was something.

My new career would smell like escargot and taste like cherry popsicle. It would sound like bees and feel like holding someone’s hand. It would look like a swift moving river.

It felt silly, crazy and impractical, but it was a start.

And, by experimenting, investigating and checking things out during my new career search, I noticed what felt like cherry popsicle and bees, and what didn’t. Everything cherry popsicle stayed in; everything not-cherry-popsicle got deleted. I got more clear about a dream. I could fill in the spaces, adding texture and meaning around the sensations of my dream. It seemed to take forever, but within a year, I landed in a completely new career, new job, new home and in a new city.

Today, and for the first time in my life, everything meshes. I have a rich, fun career in a company where I busily work with caring people. There are ups and downs and it’s exciting and sometimes calm, but always moving forward. My silly, crazy, impractical approach was better than any goal I had.

So, tonight as I think about the new decade and what’s next for me, I’ll shut my eyes tight and follow my nose.

© 2010 Lisa Ann Edwards