If manifesting isn't working out for you, this might be why

With so many angel card messages lately urging us to set intentions to manifest what we want in our lives, I thought Id write about how we sometimes block our dreams from coming true by wanting them too much.
Wait, what?
Bear with me. I *know* that sounds counter-intuitive. How can you want something too much? I mean, no one would set a goal for something they didnt really want, right?

The problem is that when we want something so much that we devote all our focus to it, we dont give the Universe enough space to make it happen for us –  and that messes up all the good energy were trying to send out. We get in our own way. We try to force it before the time is right, jumping on every opening that seems like it could possibly be the way forward, instead of pausing to let our intuition guide us. We might pursue business opportunities that don't suit us and chase potential romantic partners who arent that into us. Speaking of romance, my own love life is a case in point: I believe that I only got the relationship Id yearned for after I had stopped looking for it. I had not given up on love, I had just given up the search for it (for the record, love is not something you find. It finds you... when the time is right).
There is such a thing as being too attached to something. If we idealise how we want our lives to look, we may become tunnel-visioned and not realise that the Universe is showing us a better way. The problem is not the wanting of said thing, it’s the clinging to said thing.
This isnt just a trick to play on ourselves so we dont get too disappointed if something doesnt work out, BTW.
When we ask the Universe for something, there are only three possible answers it gives:
·         * Yes
* Not yet  
             *  I have something better in mind
Here’s an example. Last year I was completely fixated on my goal of making my reiki practice work. It was haemorrhaging money, and I exhausted every avenue my Mastermind group and I could think of to attract the clientele the business needed. I sensed Id made a misstep in opening a business without establishing a client base first, but I was in too deep and I felt I couldn’t just walk away (flogging dead horses has always been a hobby of mine, lol). I was so obsessed with making it work that Id staked my sense of self-worth on the success of the venture, so that when it inevitably failed, I felt like I was the failure. Not exactly a healthy approach.
Ive already written about my struggles with that resulting sense of failure (read that post here) but here’s a brief summary of what went wrong (or right, depending on your perspective): the Universe was trying to steer me in a different direction, but I hadn’t been listening. Because I was too attached to how *I* thought it should happen.
A lot of spiritual experts encourage people to emotionally invest in their goals, which is all well and good, but if we are *too* attached to our visions, we can overlook cues from our intuition that there might be a better way – or that what we want simply isnt right for us at that point in our lives.
Lesson learned. Now when I set goals and intentions, I ask the Universe for help, then let them go. Your move, Universe.
Of course the Universe always responds to action (you should never be passive about your goals), but there’s only so far you can go before you’ve got to get out of your own way. Surrendering to the Universe is the only option – and the Universe is, after all, better at organising things than you are. 
This has worked brilliantly for me in recent weeks. One of my aims was to get a regular spiritual column in a publication. To solidify that intention, I focused on the euphoric feeling of having such a gig that would beautifully marry my two career streams of spiritual guidance and journalism (hint: the Universe loves it when we attach emotions to our intentions). I contacted a few editors, but heard nothing back. Then I pretty much forgot about it. I didn’t give up, I just knew there was nothing more I could do to bring the column into being. I knew that if it was meant to happen, it would. 
And, almost 12 months later, it has.
A few weeks ago, a former co-worker put me in touch with a commissioning editor who was looking for a monthly spiritual column on her magazines website. After some discussions, we arrived at a formula, I wrote my first piece, and its just gone live. Im thrilled. I’m aware that it might not work out long-term... but then again, it just might. Either way, Im happy. Because as much as I wanted this opportunity and am enjoying it, I didn’t *need* it.
That’s the best way I can sum up non-attachment: wanting but not needing. It’s a pretty helpful strategy to keep in mind. Except for when it comes to nachos, which I both want and need on the reg, obviously.

Rising up when it all falls apart – the difference between failing and being a failure

This week I will hand back the keys to the practice where I’ve been offering reiki treatments. Long-time readers of my blog may remember that 12 months ago, I took a massive leap of faith and committed to a one-year lease on a room at a health and wellbeing practice here in Sydney. I planned to offer reiki treatments two days a week (read that blog post here), and hoped that I could grow a client base and eventually make this, combined with my angel card reading service, a career alternative. It was a big financial risk… and it has not, unfortunately, paid off. The very worst result that could have happened – the one I was most afraid of – has indeed happened. And I’m OK with that. Now.

For a long time I was not OK. In February it became apparent that my business was not working. That, on top of a (temporary but prolonged) drought in my primary source of income, plunged me into a state of despair... not to mention debt.
When I realised there was nothing I could do but watch money flow down the drain until my commercial lease ran out, the sense of disappointment was immense. I had lovingly stacked my hopes and dreams, along with significant sums of money, into this business, and it had not worked. I had wholeheartedly trusted that having faith was enough to make my dreams come true... and I was wrong. I couldn’t not see this failure as an indictment on my skills and my worth. The failure of my business felt like proof that I was a failure as a person. My inner bully’s cries of “I knew you’d fuck it up!” were deafening.
Business leaders around the world consistently describe the experience of losing everything as integral to shaping their success. JK Rowling famously had her Harry Potter manuscripts rejected 12 times. “I was the biggest failure I knew,” she said. When Bloomsbury Publishing took a punt and printed her first three books, it warned her not to quit her day job. As we all know, Joanne went on to achieve stratospheric levels of success. Yet on 12 previous occasions, she had failed. It was not her moment to shine… until it was. The Universe has a schedule all its own.
Failure is a blistering, heavy word. The most unhelpful thing anyone said to me when I was coming to realise things were not turning out as I’d hoped was: “Just think positive – it’ll all work out.” Please, never say this to someone going through a significant challenge. It implies theyre not trying hard enough, that a lack of faith is the cause of their struggle and that getting what they want is a mere case of wishing for it (a wildly inaccurate interpretation of the law of attraction). So, so unhelpful.
What *was* helpful for me as I licked my wounds was reframing the situation. There’s a difference between failing and being a failure. The former means I haven’t had success yet; the latter indicates I am flawed on a personal level. Once I understood the distinction between the two – and stopped beating myself up – I found my way to a space of acceptance. Instead of seeing myself as incompetent I was (eventually) able to depersonalise the experience, and recognise failure as a necessary step in my development. Brene Brown says: “Failure is an imperfect word because the minute you learn from it, it ceases to be a failure.” 
Although the Universe didn’t meet me halfway on this business plan, it did issue me with an invitation to grow. Learn from this, and you’ll become more resilient. Learn from this, and you’ll navigate future obstacles better. Learn from this, and new doors will open up to you, opportunities better than you could have scripted. The secret of life, as Paulo Coelho expressed so exquisitely in The Alchemist, is to fall down seven times and get up eight.

There are all sorts of reasons why my reiki practice likely didn’t fire. It could have been the wrong area. It could have been (and most likely was) simply the wrong timing. It was 100 per cent not lack of skills nor lack of effort on my part. I know that I could not have put anything more into that business. I have no regrets… now.
So when I take my certificates off the wall and push my business cards through the shredder, I will remember the difference between failing and being a failure. I will remind myself that I am not defined or diminished by this disappointment. And as I let go of my expectations I will hold space for shiny new opportunities. 
Your move, Universe.

The year 2015 – it was good for me. Was it good for you?

2015 sign becoming 2016
Tis the season for an onslaught of New Year ‘Imma change everything’ status updates and extreme healthy eating promises that will be long forgotten by February.
I’m guilty of the same.
Almost every year, an editor will commission me to write a feature about how people can make their New Year resolutions last, and I dutifully interview an expert who will utter proclamations about goals that are ‘achievable’, ‘realistic’ and ‘meaningful’ – great guidelines that I never take on board myself. Every December I find myself taking stock of my life and making plans for how I can improve myself. And every December I find myself reaching more or less the same conclusion: the most significant changes in the year were the ones I did not intend to happen. The significant growth I’ve made this year has been a byproduct rather than a direct result of any actions I took.

Here were my nine (wait, what?!) goals for 2015, and an assessment of how they went:
LEARN REIKI. I did it! I’m now a fully qualified (and practising) reiki practitioner.
One Grounded Angel at the Festival of Dreams, Sydney
One Grounded Angel's display at the Festival Of Dreams.
BUILD MY BLOG WITH THREE POSTS A WEEK. I started off well, but by about June I realised how demanding this was, and I pulled back to once or twice a week, which I’ve maintained successfully. But the blog has definitely grown steadily, along with my social media audience, so I’m calling this a win.
MORE FUN. Having realised how out of balance my life was, I decided to lock in one fun activity a month. This is the sad reality of being a busy adult – fun has to be scheduled. This started off brilliantly. I went indoor trampolining. I hired a bike and rode along an unfamiliar stretch of coastline. I said yes to weekends away with people I did not know. I used my tax refund to book a trip to New York (finally!). But when the weather got colder I stopped making this a priority. It’ll be a focus for 2016 too, but in a less regimented format.
DO YOGA ONCE A WEEK. I kept this up for most of the year – and really benefited from it – until I went on holiday in August and never really went back. I want to commit to this again.
WRITE TWO SHORT STORIES (FICTION). I wrote one (which isn’t too shabby) and started another (which had good framework but I lost enthusiasm for it). I’d like to at least get this partial story completed. Not for the story itself but because the process of making time for creativity benefits me on so many levels.
Me atop the Empire State Building
I made it to New York! Here I am at the Empire State Building.
GET THREE WORTHY FEATURES PUBLISHED. I set this goal because the stories I’d been writing (for work) were mediocre, and I wanted to write stories that align with my overarching goal of purpose of helping people live more meaningful lives. I managed to do two features that fit this goal, and have been commissioned to write for another in 2016. A partial win.
DO MORE VOLUNTEER WORK. Fail. I have continued volunteering at a retirement home one Saturday a week but did not take on anything extra. This is also worth revisiting in 2016.
IMPROVE MY RELATIONSHIP WITH MYSELF. I set this goal because my self-esteem was stupidly low, and I knew that the only way I could improve my relationships with others was to improve my relationship with myself. Initially I had a goal to write down two things I liked about myself at the end of the day and put them into a jar. This lasted about three months before I lost interest in this project. Then I set out to say three uplifting affirmations to myself in the mirror every morning, but this, too, fell by the wayside (is anyone else seeing a pattern here?!).

New Year's Day 2015. 
Even though I abandoned this last resolution, I think it’s the area in which I’ve grown most – and that happened when I focused on other things. I took a risk and started a new business which required me to back myself, and to stand out as a healer (which was an uncomfortable but rewarding experience). I made an effort to build friendships instead of hiding myself away due to fear of rejection. I did work on forgiving myself for choices I’ve made in the past and forgiving others that have hurt me, which helped me find peace. I made a conscious effort, towards the end of the year, to embrace my individuality instead of constantly comparing myself to others and feeling like a failure because I do not have the things that they have (or appear to have – and I still have more work to do in this area). All of these things have helped bring me to a point of friendship with myself. That is my lasting legacy of 2015. And as I think about my goals for 2016, I’m more aware that whether I succeed or fail at them won’t much matter. Yes it’s important to extend myself and deepen my connection with my soul, my people and my work, but the growth is what happens in the spaces between.