3-Legged Stool to Support Your Goals

goal setting

Tips for goal-setting are ubiquitous, especially during the Holiday season. So, instead of telling you how to set goals, we thought it would be more helpful to offer a framework to stay positive about your goals.  Consider the framework like a 3-legged stool that will support your practice, your lifestyle, your way of being.

Let's begin with an Intention.

First, it's important to distinguish between Goals & Intentions.  Assuming you already know what Goals are, and have experience setting them; here’s a short article about setting your Intention.  Basically, in our practice with SOL, setting an intention is a commitment to a way of BE-ing.  You’ve probably heard one of us say in class, “It’s not about What you’re doing, or How you’re doing the postures.  It’s about how you’re Being, no matter what you’re doing.”  In some industries, an Intention might be like connecting to your “Purpose”, living “A Purpose Driven Life” or “Find Your Why”.

mindful intention
Setting an Intention is like shooting an arrow from your mind. It needs to be aimed properly before you release.

In contrast, we use Goals to achieve the What and How in our lives.  For example, a goal might be to improve your float backs and kick ups in order to move into handstands effortlessly.  Achieving this goal requires the physical practice; integrating body & breath, strength & conditioning; focus & balance.  However, an Intention to be Still throughout that practice is something different; committing your mind to remain calm, despite & in the midst of tension, and regardless of the posture.

Leg #1: Intention.  Set a positive intention that supports your Quality of Being.

Next, a few thoughts on Mindfulness.

Mindfulness is a popular topic these days.  In the business world, it’s almost as popular as goal-setting for individual New Year’s Resolutions.  Here are a few examples of the popularity of mindfulness in the workplace, in the classroom, and for busy moms.  Because he has devoted his entire life’s work to the subject of mindfulness, we like to draw from any of Thich Nhat Hanh for inspiration.  Pick up any of his books (e.g., “The Miracle of Mindfulness”, “You Are Here”, “Silence”), and you’ll probably find this mantra for mindfulness,

“I’m breathing in; this is an in-breath.

I’m breathing out: this is an out-breath.”

Although we aren’t Buddhists (if anyone is wondering), we do appreciate the utter simplicity of his life & teaching as Zen monk.  There’s a lot to be gained by finding simplicity within the complex.  This isn’t the same as being ignorant of realities, or over-simplification for the sake of simplicity.  Truly appreciating the work involved in simply being mindful requires a high degree of maturity on the path to mastery, in any field.  If you’re a musician, consider the complexity & subtleties within the genre of jazz & you’ll understand, “Simplicity is preceded by mastery.”

Leg #2:  Simplicity.  Find it beyond awareness, beyond understanding & even beyond mastery of your domain. But, to get there, you’ll need those too.

© Sol Hot Yoga Studio_Set Your Intention

Bringing it all together – Camaraderie.

All three legs of the stool should be equally balanced & equally important.  But, this last leg transcends the individual stool itself.  Many of us may have heard & possibly even used that word in church.  That’s not by accident.  The Bible contains no less than 100 verses about the importance of Fellowship.  But what does it mean in relation to your Quality of Being?

The Greek word, Koinonia, was used in the original translations of the Bible.  And, unsurprisingly, it had a much deeper meaning than dressing up to hang with your church buds once a week.  In context, the original word actually means to join together in order to contribute (emphasis on contribute, reference our post on empathy).  In this context, it’s more like showing up to Work (as a verb, capital “W”), not just showing up to work (as a noun).  Remember, yoga works as long as you do.

Thich Nhat Hanh offers a simple explanation for a similar word in the yogic traditions, Sangha,

“In order for us to develop some roots, we need the kind of environment that can help us become rooted.”

In his hierarchy of needs, Maslow outlined a range of human needs; from the very basic needs for food & water, to the complex sense of love & belonging.  In most illustrations, self-actualization sits atop the hierarchy.  However, Maslow coined the term, Metamotivation, to describe people who are motivated to strive beyond their own basic needs.  He explained late in his life, that the real pinnacle of human needs was transcendence.

In order to attain that higher level, we need to see the future version of our Best Self & find out how that supports your Quality of Being.

So many people suffer mentally because they’re trying to live life like they’re 21, long after they’re 31, 41, or even 51.  NEWS FLASH: The metabolism of a 40-year-old is not the same as a teenager. And, 35-year-old muscles & joints just don’t recover as quickly as they did when we were 25.

We all know that, right?!  This is science.  (Of course there are exceptions to everything; e.g., pro athletes & centenarians.)  In general, we shouldn’t eat the way our kids do, or do the same workouts we did in college.

Only you can imagine a version of your future Best.

Once you see it, share it, and surround yourself with people who support it.

This includes finding a guide who supports the daily practice of your journey.  This might be a relative, a coach, a teacher, a mentor, or your yoga instructor.  This is probably the most important leg in our 3-legged stool because it involves accountability.

Leg #3: Camaraderie.  Find it (and don’t be afraid if your traveling companions hold you accountable).

Someone recently asked Matt if he gets tired of wearing yoga clothes all day.  The answer is unequivocally, No.  (Remember, Matt wore a uniform for over 20 years.)  Most of all, we actually enjoy seeing the colors fade a little.  These are visible signs of our commitment to our practice.  We’ve earned the faded colors & the pliability of our Manduka mats through thousands of hours of sweat equity.  Like battle scars on a vet, recognize the beauty in your wrinkles & gray hairs. You earned them. Don’t let anyone convince you to hide them!

Stay positive & see the benefits of your Intention to BE-ing your best self, be mindful of your daily habits, and enjoy the company of those who help you stay on track.

© Sol Hot Yoga Studio_Sangha

When you find yourself in a group, take a moment to send a thought of gratitude for your fellow travelers.  They all have something to teach us.  Recognize those who help you & distance yourself from those who are holding you back.  Ensure the path you’re on will take you closer to your best self.

© Sol Hot Yoga Studio_Love Mug

To recap, here's our framework to help support your goals:

  • Commit to a way of BE-ing that supports your goals in life – Intention;
  • Beyond mastery, seek simplicity – Mindfulness; and,
  • Surround yourself with others who help you become your best – Camaraderie.

Of course, it shouldn’t go without saying that Sol Hot Yoga Studio is here to help.  The intention for every class in our Studio is to be more than just a workout.  Our guiding principles for Sol Hot Yoga Studio are Empathy, Self-Giving Service, and Community.  It's a practice & we have to work at it. But we've set our intention on these principles that extend beyond the mat.

If you’re still uncertain about hot yoga, we encourage you to be mindful that not all hot yoga studios are created equal.  The benefits of a group hot yoga practice exceed the benefits of regular yoga classes, yoga at home, or by yourself.  Sharing in your individual journey while you are struggling together, also depends on ethical & trustworthy guides.*  Find out more about us & ways we can help you explore a deeper practice.