11) Ninja Training, part 2: WISE goals

I am presenting to the world, the Dolderman Theory of Intrinsic Motivation.  This is rooted in complex systems thinking, humanistic psychology, and modern integrative social-developmental neuroscience.  But for now, let’s stick with the fun, useful part.

My claim:  WISE goals rule, especially for long-term happiness. They wipe the walls with those silly SMART goals we’re always being coached to set….

What are WISE goals?  They are Wicked, Illuminating, Sexy, and Effervescent


Wicked — I subscribe fully to the 1990s usage of the term wicked.  You may also call it awesome, super cool, gnarly, rad, sick, groovy, far out, OMG, whatever turns your crank, and good times!!

But let’s not be half-hearted about it.  Let’s go all the way.  Reach deep into your guts.  Yes, your guts.  Your stomach, bowels, sphincter, and the deliciously subtle “core” musculature deep inside the spinal root of your body and ground of your being.  You know THAT part?  Well, that’s what I’m talking about.

When you are REEEEEEEALLY given ‘er, you know it.  Because you feel it in your guts.  It’s as simple and uncompromising as that.  So I’m sorry maaan, but if you are not feeling it in your guts, then you are not really committed; you’re holding back for some reason.  Don’t argue with me about it!  It’s YOUR guts….argue with them!

engageSo then, come on man, it’s time to ask yourself some hard questions.
Is this the right thing for you?
Or, are YOU not opening yourself to your own passion for some other reason?
Which is it?
It’s important to figure this out. Because you are either lacking meaning, or you are blocked in accessing it.  Or both.  And there are ways to address these things, but it helps to know what they are first.

(Note:  I am not ignoring structural factors, like justice inequality, poverty, oppression, trauma, etc…………, but that’s too big for this chunk, and we will set that aside, for the moment, with all respect and compassionate intentionality.)

So, choose Wicked.  Feel it in your guts.


The single most beautiful book I personally know and have loved deeply, is The Illuminated Rumi.
To me, choosing the Illuminating means choosing to Open.  That’s what it is, in the experiential phenomenology of your moment of Being.  Open.  Open your heart.  Open your mind.  Open your ears.  Open your eyes.  Open your palms.  Open your wallet.  Open your doors.

Because when you open, you let What Is, in.  You become the universe. And when you operate from that place, you will do Good things.  Or at least, the Goodest things you are likely capable of at your current place of personal unfolding.

So touch, open, love.

(Whoa….just realized, this is Elizabeth’s Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love.  Like, exactly.  That’s cool.  Thanks Archetypal Forces.  Or as my friend Eric would say, “Fractals, maaaan…”)

Yep, that’s what I mean.  Because, you have a hot, lusty beast in you.  Or, if it doesn’t manifest for you that way, then it takes a different, less specifically “lusty” form for you, and I would never be so presumptive as to try to describe it.  But that raw, essence of Life Energy is there, in your body, in your cells and blood and beating heart and muscles and skin and hair follicles and tongue and fingers and genitals and feet and legs and back and everything — you are brimming with Living biologically supercharged RRRRRAAAAAAAARRRRRRRR energy.  I don’t know what to call it.  It probably takes an infinite forms and expresses itself through an infinite uniquenesses.
(After all, how could anything so Godlike as the essential Force of Life incarnated in our own living beings be anything less than infinitely nuanced and variegated?  Really?  Is it not just obviously absurd that any hegemony, any universalization of a system, cannot be Good?  Variety is the spice of life, as they say….)  🙂

So, I call it Sexy.

And it’s different from Wicked.  That should be clear.  Wicked is your guts.  It’s commitment and passion and deep, core-based engagement.  Sexy is your hot, lusty, belly laughing, caressing-savouring, chocolate fudge melting in your mouth, hot oil massaging, lactic acid building, athletic straining,artistically vibrant, existentially unified through your actual, sweating, feeling, throbbing, breathing body.

Cuz you know, we ARE animals.  It feels damn good to drink water, eat fruit.  Run your ass off.  Swim.  Scratch.  You know it.  You feel that awesome, embodied admixture of the Lion’s Roar and the Cat’s Purr in you.  That’s what you are!


You know that tongue tingly bubbliness of soda pop when you’re a kid?
How eyes really do sparkle when they laugh?
And when they cry?
How it feels to bike downhill, jump off the high dive board, wrestle with your dad and mom.  Or cuddle?

You know the leg pumping jumpingness of running pell mell into a lake?
Splashing leaping rushing forward then diving plowing into the waves,
Falling laughing froth spraying and your hair’s wet and the world looks so different underwater and your body feels free twisting like a seal flying in its liquid sky?

You know when the kite first takes off?
The cat jumps into your lap?
You hold the soft fluff of a baby bunny?
You unwrap the gift? Your loved ones turn on the lights and yell “surprise!”
You look up and see the rainbow, hear a child giggling, someone hugs you, or you wait with eager anticipation in that delicious moment just before you do something really, really kind?

You know that moment, a short moment AFTER the punchline — when they “get it”?
Faces, eyes, mouths open
and bellies laugh
and laugh
and laugh?

Expressing this Delight in language is….just not possible.
But you know it when you feel it.


So that’s it.  Set WISE goals. And if you can’t, then dude, maybe you’re bullshitting yourself, and chasing bad goals. Better be honest about this. Life passes quickly, and disappointingly, when you marinate in your mere mediocrity.

There’s more to say on this huge topic, but that’s enough for now.  Explore it on your own and see what happens.

But one pitfall I want to forewarn you about, is that you may reject or critique this as being too much about individual, personal happiness.  That it’s all fudge eating and passion, and sounds pretty selfish, hedonistic, and disappointingly consumerist.

If you are having this reaction, I would gently challenge you to reconsider your framing.  First, in the larger context of everything else I have written and spoken about in my life, it is crystal clear that I am not promoting such an interpretation.  So, uhhhh, give me some cred?  🙂

But more specifically, think deeply about what is embedded in the Illuminating and Effervescent parts.  (And even the other parts although it’s much more subtle.)  You cannot help but see how, through deeply connecting to the raw, pure, experiential authenticity of your moment of fully aware embodied consciousness, you are going to be a good person.  You won’t be an asshole.  It’s as simple as that.

Carl Rogers once said, “When awareness of experience is fully operating, human behaviour is to be trusted, for in these moments, the human organism becomes aware of its delicacy and tenderness towards others.”

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