The call to adventure

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“Does everyone have to have big goals in life?” 

A pretty redhead with big blue eyes made a beeline for me after hearing me give a talk on the topic and asked me this very question. 

I paused. 

My mind travelled back to my first big goal. It was pretty recent, dating back to 2016.

“No, of course not,” I contemplated.  

A moment later, adding: 

“Big by whose standards anyway?” 

My own goal, the one that created seismic change for me, could have seemed odd and probably unimpressive by many people’s standards. I wanted to become a certified mindfulness meditation teacher and yoga teacher. 

What’s the point of the exercise then, if it’s not meant to help us achieve big things? I hear you asking, from wherever you are.

The answer:

Drive. Motivation. Purpose. Meaning. 

Setting a goal and visualising our dreams are only part of the equation. 

Getting to the root of their significance is what powers us to move forward. Like everything else in life, it’s not just reaching and achieving that brings rewards. It’s the journey, however arduous, to get there.  

Don’t be fooled by seemingly small objectives. 

They may just be like an iceberg. 

There may be much more to them than what your conscious mind perceives. And once you’re on your way to achieving them, your life will have taken a whole new trajectory. 

Stepping onto the path

(In case you missed my earlier essay on the topic, where I refuse 'the call'... you can jump in here). 

Reader, if you don’t know me, you may be wondering what’s so weird about my dream of teaching yoga and meditation. This isn’t the 1900’s. These practices are widely available now, no?

Well, understand that when I first came across that dream, it was as if I’d been struck by lightning. It meant change. Big change.  

Mindfulness teacher doesn’t quite rhyme with global communications director at Christian Louboutin. 

My big goal made one of my friends scoff, right in my face: “You? A yoga teacher?” We were in a five-star Parisian hotel sipping on a martini. She, big shot CEO, gestured a manicured hand at my fashion week outfit. “I mean…” A yoga teacher (having forgotten about the meditation part) buying luxury fashion is dissonant, is what I think she meant. She was also implying thatI couldn’t leave that lifestyle behind.

She rolled her eyes at me and I was a child for a moment, being scolded for wishing to become the wrong thing when I grow up. 

Ouch. I’d not yet digested my own discovery. How could I explain myself in a way that she, of all people, could understand? We were peers. I too could have vied for a CEO role next, though for a smaller luxury brand. 

One thing was clear. I did not want that, but I kept it to myself.

So, I would be misunderstood, I reasoned. It’s not the first time I’ll be moving through life as a contrarian. 

Answering the call

My mindfulness (and yoga) dreams showed up like a healthy-looking iceberg, gleaming in front of me, floating proudly on the sea of ordinary thoughts that pervaded my mind. 

Initially, they seemed out of reach, impossible to climb, too high, too slick. I couldn’t see how I’d make my way up.

I didn’t need to worry.

The magic, I later learned, is that once you know what you want, your mind starts to pay attention to any and all things related to your point of focus. 

And you know the saying: where attention goes, energy flows. 

Finding the guides

A few months later, the perfect mindfulness teacher training program offer landed right in my hand. Cleaning out my phone’s inbox of unwanted promotions, I casually swiped left, when suddenly my mind went NO!!!! My eyes had caught the header. 

I furrowed through deleted messages with the kind of passion one would have looking for a lost treasure in the trash. I felt a full body release when I found the email evidence: YES! My favourite teacher (not that I knew many) was offering THE online course I knew I was looking for. 

It didn’t take me long to sign on the dotted line. I had 100 per cent confidence that this was it for me. 

That summer, I told a nice yoga teacher in passing that I was looking for a great teacher to do my 200H training. I’d told the same thing to many people, but no one offered any thoughts, or resources. She turned to me and blurted out: “Oh, I know THE BEST TEACHER for your training. She is amazing.” 

I listened to this unexpected helper. In 2019, three years after my first goal-setting session, lost and confused as I was about my place in the world, I was gaining my first certification and about to embark on my second. 

The challenges

The tempting vision I had conjured was to continue on my trajectory in luxury communication, albeit as a solopreneur, and that the mindfulness studies and the yoga would exist on the side of my life. Out of the way. 

Just like an iceberg, I advanced towards my goal unaware that much of its essence existed below the surface. 

Nowadays, many equate mindfulness with generic secular meditations, apps and corporate programs to lower anxiety. Yoga is widely seen as a form of exercise. 

While there was some depth to my approach, I made no effort to take in the spiritual and philosophical dimension of either of my endeavours, until I stepped on the path and started to study. 

The start of a transformation

The programs I had sought out, unconsciously selected, were led by wise spiritual teachers, who were passing on teachings (descendants of long lineages themselves). They were exceptional storytellers, each in their unique way, and shared teachings wrapping them in poetry, humour, honesty and an embodied kindness that coursed through me.  

The after-effects changed me far more than I ever had imagined. Seismic in nature, they influenced me deep down, only later shaking me up and pushing me toward further change. 

I had only taken in the shimmer of my dream in the distance. 

If you were ever to find yourself partaking in goal setting sessions, the kind of which I now lead, or use any other means to get in touch with what you want to achieve in life, don’t be fooled by what others may consider a ‘small’ dream or goal. 

Your goal, just like mine, may just be an iceberg.

Who knows what you’ll discover, beneath the surface, if you start on the journey towards change.

PS. I'm still on the path, perhaps a little further along than you are, I hope that you'll benefit from my stories. If you fancy joining me, I'm holding an online Goal Setting Workshop on Monday 17th June, on Zoom of course. To find out more and register, click ​here​.

PS2. I teach ​weekly live meditation sessions on Insight Timer​, for free, and I have a course called ​Loving Kindness 101​ (accessible to paid subscribers of Insight Timer Plus only).

Episode Cover
The call to adventure
Or the Iceberg effect and my hero’s journey - how I unleashed my hidden potential through goal setting (and how you can, too)