Intuition and Goal Setting
Updated: Feb 25
Article first published December 2018 for PRS Foundation, Keychange project.
The secret to setting goals that get achieved is starting with the very best source material.
What makes the best source material? Well first, how about what doesn’t?
Let’s not base goals on:
what people are telling you is the new big thing in your genre/market right now (unless you are deeply excited about it)
what is reasonable
not upsetting other people
not outshining certain other people
not leaving people behind who don’t really get who you are (any more)
not looking over-ambitious
not being or asking for too much (especially if this is an inner voice observation)
things that you can do without having to ask for help
things that aren’t big enough to make you a tiny bit breathless with excitement
erasing parts of yourself that you worry are too much/too weird/too out there
compromises (especially anticipated compromises. Eg I will only set a goal of going to the US to tour for 2 months (rather than the 6 months I’d really like to do or x will be upset)
Do this instead
The very best goal setting happens when you start with a compelling vision (that speeds your heart, makes you skippy or warms you through in the best way) and then from there tease out the individual goals necessary to make the vision a reality. For example, if the vision is: I want to be performing at a good number of European festivals in the summer, the goal might be, I need to apply to the 8 most relevant festivals for my music by the end of January.
And the very best visions are arrived at by connecting to your intuition/inner wisdom.
What if you don’t include Intuition in this process? So glad you asked.
The alternative is either trying to figure it all out based on trends and industry assumptions and other people’s advice and there’s just so much of it – most of it contradictory - and anyway who knows what will make you joyful better than you? And intuition is the very best tool for dealing with uncertainty whether that’s the world has stopped working properly pandemic levels of uncertainty or the common or garden kind of uncertainty that the music industry represents in any normal year.
The other problem with not using intuition to create your vision to set your goals is that goal setting can very quickly devolve into a (subtle) fear, lack or internal assumptions based activity. If you set goals based on what you think can have or are capable of achieving you are likely to undershoot (very very few of us overestimate on this) or if you’re a people pleaser you might goal set based on what other people want for or from you. Which is a compromise position before you’ve even get started.
Added to which visioning from intuition before you start goal setting means you evade the machinations of your hard working ego, who so desperately wants to keep you safe from all harm but has hit on the unhelpful but highly effective tactic, bless its well-meaning heart, of achieving its goal by way of keeping you small and out of harm (and unpredictable future)’s way.
Creating a vision from intuition is: guaranteed to be expansive, aligned with your values and supportive of your greatest potential being expressed. Creating goals (or even visions) from any other aspect of yourself is to risk allowing limiting beliefs to be in charge of the process. You do not want your inner critic or inner parent or inner child or god forbid one of your unaligned shadow selves to be in charge of this work. (All of these aspects harnessed right, including shadow selves, can be super useful to us – but not for visioning and goal setting).
Inner critic goal setting style: Remember that time you tried to x and totally failed? It was a mess! Let’s not have you put everyone through that again.
Inner parent goal setting style: Are you being reasonable? Is music secure enough? Let’s make time to think about a solid plan b!
Inner child goal setting style: But that’s going to be haaard and scary. Let’s do something easy and fun instead! Oh look – colouring!
Shadow self goal setting style: No! Not possible. Don’t even try. Chaos. Destruction. DEATH. (Perhaps that’s just my shadow self?)
By the way. Several of these voices are the creators of the phenomenon of New Years Resolutions. Which is why 80% of them fail. Just saying. Seriously, spare yourself.
So how does intuition led visioning actually work. Let’s get practical.
5 Ways to Get Intuitive with your Visioning and Goal Setting
In my experience there are many ways to connect with your intuition – anything that allows you to get quiet, be present and open to hearing the quiet but knowing voice from within. This can vary widely from person to person but there are some sure fire places to start.
Gratitude. Starting any intuitive exercise designed to help you create, achieve or manifest something by writing down some of things your are grateful for is always time well spent. The emotional signature of gratitude is receiving. What better way to start? Also – being grateful in advance is a practice many people utilise to shift any resistance they may have towards receiving goals or visions they are working towards.
Nature. Getting into nature can be a challenge in winter for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere who aren’t all charmingly Nordic and you call this cold? about it but is certainly not impossible. A wrapped up solitary winter walk (even a short one) with a clear intention to arrive home with guidance clear and ready to write down is possible for most of us. For the more hardy or well provisioned with a down coat, a thermos, hand warmers and something waterproof to sit on we can make notes under our favourite tree or by our favourite body of water.
Speaking of which...
Water. It’s the most powerful (and gloriously abundant) element on the planet for us to use for connecting with our inner guide’s voice. I’ve said it before and I’ll never tire of saying it, bath, shower, hot tub, swimming pool, foot spa, flotation tank, ocean, river, lake – getting into physical contact with water will do wonders to boost your ability to hear your inner voice. It works for lots of reasons but the relaxation that comes with engaging with water is certainly not the least of them and is guaranteed to boost your ability to hear the wisdom waiting for you.
Journaling. Intuition and journaling go together like music festivals and an access all areas laminate. Journaling is such a great way to get into the deepest and most meaningful parts of your inner wisdom because you can use a variety of techniques from automatic writing, stream of consciousness or self-interviewing to get to the gold awaiting you. Also, it keeps your ideas and vision in a safe place (rather than say a piece of A4 paper) and allows you to refer back and work into the vision throughout the year.
Specificity. Don’t be afraid to ask really specific questions as a starting point. You can address your question directly to your intuition or if you prefer to the Universe, God, the Goddess, whoever you feel is your best connection point.
Good starter questions you can ask to get into to flow:
What would you have me do, be or have in the coming year?
What is the one thing I need to create in the coming year to realise my fullest potential and to make the biggest impact?
What do I do to move my career forward but also make a meaningful difference in the coming year?
If you have struggled with a particular professional, creative or career problem in the past year, lay out your questions to discover what it is that you need to know to get past it in the coming year.
What would you have me to do to overcome my under-earning in the coming year?
What would you have me learn or understand in the area of creative collaborations this year?
As letting go of something we don’t want or no longer serves us is a great way to free up space for something that we really do want to come in and take its place (e.g. letting go of a crazy making client, turning down doing work for free) a great follow up question once you’ve started to get a picture of what you want to create might be:
What do I need to let go of in order to successfully achieve this vision in the coming year?
There is no question too specific or technical to ask your intuition. It doesn’t communicate with us in riddles unless we engage with it that way. Asking your intuition only closed (yes/no questions) is a missed opportunity.
Compare: “Dear Intuition, Shall I make my next album this year?” to “Dear Intuition, what would you have me to do to create my next album? Who should I reach out to in order to make it happen? Where should I look for the funding?
Intuition might give you a general answer. Or it might provide something amazingly specific. I have been provided with exceptionally specific answers to questions I’ve posed to my intuition. The answer to one such question (who should I tell about this new direction I want to take my coaching practice) a few years ago has led to nearly £75k in business since. And counting. And just because you don’t have a clear enough answer in January doesn’t meant you can’t ask again later. Things may have changed and a chess piece may have moved into place in the meantime.
Vision into Goals. Goals into Actions.
Once you have your vision you can start to put in details that might be missing. Dates. Times. Places. People. Feelings (how you want to feel as you make that vision a reality). And once you have enough to create (SMARTIE - Specific, Measurable, Aligned with your values, Realistic, Timed, Inspiring, Ethical) goals with you can break it down into the individual goals that will lead to the creation of that vision.
Once you have your goals you can break those down into your action steps.
This is another good time to engage your intuition.
Which of these goals should I work on first?
What is the first action I should take to achieve this goal?
What is the smallest action I can take to achieve this goal given how much else I have on?
What is the most powerful action I can take to achieve this goal right now?
How do I overcome my resistance to taking that powerful (but scary) action you just offered?
Intuition will have an answers to each of these questions. Listen. Do the thing. Following through daily (even if it’s the smallest item) means you are taking inspired and aligned action. By far the most powerful kind. (It’s the exact opposite of busy work. To tell if you are engaged in busy when you’re not sure - I assume you know that staring at your inbox, random social media posting etc are not aligned action work, ask your intuition if this activity is getting you to your stated goals. If the answer comes back no, ask one of the questions above. Do that instead).
So there you have my goal setting perspective. Give yourself the biggest gift this holiday season, the gift of listening to and acting on your intuition. To envision, to set goals, to take inspired action.
Your inner wisdom has access to so many unknowable things that it is the very best, without exception, place to go exploring for your vision for the new year and new decade. It is pure possibility, it comes with 100% belief in your capabilities and desires only your realising your fullest potential.
It wants to be useful, which is why it offers us little bits of guidance even when we aren’t asking for it. The power of asking, listening and then taking the action suggested is by our intuition is by far the most powerful way to achieve your goals in the year and decade that lie ahead of us.