I never thought I would own goats in 2018.
It wasn’t part of the plan nor in the budgeting of my family’s resources.
July 6th, a good friend’s mom was sick and her goats had just given birth to two kids and they needed a new home. I have dreamt about owning goats ever since I met a small herd of baby goats at the Portland Homestead Store a couple years back. They were incredible—the best baby animals I had ever met. So much personality! An underrated pet, for sure.
The opportunity was presented for adoption at an inconvenient time. My husband Trevor was transitioning work, and I had my hands full with my coaching practice and out-of-town visitors. It wasn’t the right time.
Thoughts I had:
“When we can own a larger piece of land, maybe we could get goats then.”
“When we make more money.”
“Maybe after actual kids.”
Can you hear your own voice in my rationalizing?
People have the tendency to shut ideas down before truly exploring them. When this opportunity presented itself, my immediate thought was that we couldn’t do it, that there was simply too much in the way to make my dream (and this awesome opportunity) a reality.
I experienced this same doubtful thinking when I was in process of buying a house and changing careers. It’s a pattern I see in myself and my clients. It’s a kind of rationalizing which always leads away from risk and towards keeping the status quo (unfortunately, this is the case even when the status quo is less than optimal or downright bad).
Then, we made the mistake of meeting them—Benedict and Genevieve.
After a few days and some intense discussion and decision making, (both individually and as a couple), looking at our values, mapping out potential future scenarios, looking at the cost of everything (both in $ and freedom) we said yes. Then we planned and executed the creation of an outdoor goat pen and shelter in a week! A sleepless 8 days.
The first month was chaos—goat training, finding a new home for the nanny goat, 10 goat prison breaks in the first 24 hours, goat cries at 6 a.m., and talking with neighbors.
Literally, there was an evening where my spouse and I processed that getting the goats may have been the wrong decision.
But then, it was also a lot of fun! Goats are great companion animals. Teaching them to go on walks/hikes gave me life and having something to take care of together was an enjoyable experience for my spouse and I. Looking back, we could have held off, but I’m glad we didn’t.
I wonder how people have conditioned themselves to think. Could you be shutting something down that could be giving you abundant joy? Could you be shutting down an avenue into a future you want to be living?
If the world needs more people to “come alive”, to quote Howard Thurman, what will make you come alive?
That was my main adventurous leap in 2018. My clients also did amazing new things this past year. Listening to their stories, watching them overcome pseudo-obstacles and then step into a life worth living was truly an amazing gift for me. Below are some of the things they taught me.
Coaching has taught me to have great openness and humility to acknowledge personal blindspots (yes, everyone has them).
Before you begin the creation of your future story, you must reflect.
What is holding you back? My guess is some sort of fear. Fear of the unknown, perhaps. I know you know uncertainty is a part of life, but most people rationalize false security and control on the daily. And that rationalization keeps folks from relationships and careers they deeply desire.
Maybe reflection isn’t a part of your current life’s rhythm. I encourage folks to sit for silence at least 10 minutes a day and write down what comes up. Learning to listen to your “inner voice” is not easy in Western society. Parker Palmer, author of Let Your Life Speak, points out that we have learned to listen to our parents, teachers, mentors, but not ourselves. There is much wisdom and guidance in your own self.
Your inner voice is a crucial voice to learn to listen to. Look inward.
Many don’t reflect because it is arduous. Hard things come up. Maybe by moving states you are going against your family-of-origin’s rule and it feels criminal. Or, you are embarrassed that after 8 years of medical school you now wish to be a botanist. How could I ever tell anyone this, let alone live it out?
I have never met a soul who regretted doing the heart-work of looking inward, learning their inner voice, and spending time in reflection. I think it is the only way to experience the emotion, joy.
It can be scary to dream. Many people don’t actually know what they want—or what their inner voice is directing them to.
In the dreaming phase of your reflection, I recommend staying in “anything is possible mode” 80% of time before moving into “decision-making mode.” A common inclination is to dive into making a decision right away. This is very natural, but try to resist it for a while. Spend time throwing paint on the blank canvas. And remember, you have options and unlimited canvases. Mess up, it’s okay.
Often, our first thought isn’t the one that is going to actualize. BUT STAY OPEN. Dreaming is a process. Some are better at it than others.
What are some ways you think your life could be better? What are 5 things that wake up your senses? What are some potential jobs you could see yourself enjoying (get crazy! My husband would love to be an art critic in another life. Who knows, maybe he will one day)? How are you wired? (Are you working an office job when really you need to be working with your hands?)
Get a large blank sheet of paper. Give yourself one full hour. Write down, draw ideas that sound like they are the building blocks for an enjoyable life. (For instance: live in a yellow house, move to London, pick a bouquet and give it to a neighbor, own goats.)
Wisdom is a tricky thing. Good advice for one person could be the complete opposite of what another person needs to hear. If what I have written so far resonates with you, that’s great! Listen to your inner voice! Maybe you are reading this, and it is not what you need to hear—that’s fine. Maybe you need someone to help you take a more careful approach to life, to tell you joy comes from different and more stable places than where you’re currently seeking it.
Caution isn’t bad! It protects us and can be incredibly wise. But is it protecting something that in reality needs to be opened up versus closed and put away? Do you have an idea-seed waiting to be actualized, and it just needs you to take it outside in the sunlight and give it some water? Or do you need to be saving your finances right now and vigorously paying off student loans? Neither is wrong!
Listening to your inner voice can help you discern when you need to lean into courage and when you need to lean into wisdom. (Both are good, but each will pull you in an opposite direction.)
I have found that most people I work with needed to lean more into courage in 2018 and are currently taking a larger leap in their life.
This year I have worked with:
10 individuals who transitioned careers.
2 who landed DREAM jobs.
3 clients who quit their jobs within 2 weeks of coaching.
6 people who decided family needed to be way more important than they were making it.
And a partridge and a pear tree.
These people are making the world a better place. I am inspired by their courage to show up and live counter-culturally (taking in collective historical/societal wisdom and then thinking for themselves).
So tell me,
Are you ready to start living your one wild and precious life (to quote Mary Oliver, as always)?
What needs to happen to make 2019 your best year yet?
What could you do this week to show up?