Is Goal Setting a Waste of Time?

Intention is Nine-Tenths of Magic

If were to pick THE most important aspect of my entire spiritual practice it would have to be intention setting. Intentions allow us to use our spiritual practice to actually change our lives and the world around us, instead of just enacting some empty rituals.  In a world where goal setting has become king, and everyone and their grandmother has a bucket list, intentions are the key to making sure your ambition gets you exactly what you want and need, and not just some thing that you thought you wanted but have since outgrown.

What is the Difference

Intentions are like what Danielle Laporte calls Goals with Soul.  A goal is just a bench mark that you set for yourself for some future time frame.  The problem with most goals is that at the time you set them, you have no idea what will be still be important to you when you complete them. When we set a goal we are assuming that the way we are now, is how we will always be.  It is limiting.   Intentions on the other hand are open ended.  They are about how you want to feel, what qualities you want in your life, not about the external bench marks.

Goals are fixed, Intentions flexible.

A goal is usually one thing, I want to do X. An intention is usually more about the quality of what you want in your life. I want more abundance.  I want a career where I feel like I’m utilizing my full range of talents and skills.  The great thing about intentions is that they leave room for the universe to find you something better than your wildest dreams.  Something maybe you’ve never imagined.  When we set a goal, we are limiting our success to only that which we are able to imagine.  When we set an intention we are letting the universe decide how big and how far we can go.

 How to set intentions:

1. Get really clear on what you want.  Start with the tangible: a new job, a new car, more money.  And then dig deeper. Take one thing and really go into why you want it.  How do you think its going to make you feel when you get it?  Then take that feeling and see if you can come up with a broader term for it.  Want money? Why? So I can feel less stressed about survival, so I can play more, so I can go on vacation!  What are the feelings behind those things? Relief? Freedom? Relaxation? Respite?  I challenge you to steer clear of big general words like ‘abundance’ unless you have really done some thinking on what that really means for YOU.  Many times we throw words like that around with out really having a felt sense of what they mean to us.  By the way, if you really want to dig deep into this process check out The Desire Map.

A little cautionary tale here:  A few years ago I had a friend who asked the universe for money.  The very next day her car was rear ended and she was injured.  She ended up getting a settlement from the accident, in the form of MONEY, but at the price of her physical health.  That is why I feel like it is always better to get as clear as possible on what you want.  She thought she wanted money, but I bet if we asked her now she would admit there were more important things than the actual money, like health and freedom from financial strain.

2. Once you’ve distilled down your desires, see if you can sum them up into a sentence.  I find it helps to start with either “I want to call into my life ……(insert desires here)” or “My intention is to …..(insert what you are trying to accomplish)” Then add the all important phrase “or better”.  Leave room for the Universe to step it up a notch.

3. If you are trained in ritual, you may want to then translate your intention into a ritual act, but even if you aren’t here are a few ways you can work with it: place your intention on the your altar, write it in your planner, set fire to it and let give it over to the universe, or just hold it daily in your mind as you go about your day.  Leave the rest up to the universe.

And now I’d like to hear from you.  How do you feel about Goals?  Love em, hate em? Have you ever set an intention before, how did it work out? Leave me a comment below, and if you love this article be sure to share on Facebook or Twitter.

Allison Carr LAc believes that healing yourself makes the world a better place.  Learn more about her work and classes at

Photo modified by me, quote from Pomegranate Doyle

photo credit: Jason A. Samfield via photopin cc

How I Found the Magic in My Life

what ifFour years ago,  in a room full of about 13 other women, I took a vow that would change my life forever.  In front of my teacher, and everyone else I committed to living life as a magical act for a year and a day.  At the time I wasn’t quite sure of what I was committing to, but a voice inside me said Yes! Do it!  So I did.

At the end of that year, I was in grad school, on my way to getting my degree in Chinese Medicine and starting my life’s work as a healer.   But something more profound than just finding my vocation had happened to me, and shortly after that year was over, I made a commitment to live my whole life as a magical act.

Here are just some of the things that has meant for me:

I came to fully accept that I was a magical being.

I was enrolled in a 4 year program in magical studies, but I always felt like and imposter and a fake.  I didn’t think I had any particular magical talents.  I didn’t feel like I was psychic, I had never been able to ‘see’ energy or auras. In fact, I was pretty sure that any minute someone was going to point a finger at me and tell me to get out of class. What I learned that year was that we are all magical beings.  We are all capable of developing psychic awarness, but more importantly, we all have gifts that no one else has, that is our magic.

I accepted that I was fully in charge of my destiny.

No more excuses or free tickets to pity-ville.  If I was going to live my life as if it were magic I had to accept that every thing happens for a reason.  Everything has a purpose. I also had to accept that I co-created my own reality with the universe.  If I felt like a victim or full of negativity, that is exactly what I was going to create in my life.  But if I stood in my own power and called to me that which I desired most, I was able to bring it into being.  What a scarey and awesome prospect.

I learned that I was here to do something amazing.

Up until that point I think my biggest life aspiration had been to avoid being eaten by what I saw as the soul killing machine of capitalism.  That meant living a life of flexible, but meaningless employment, always being broke and feeling like it was the fault of the system that I was unhappy.  But choosing to make this vow I came to realize that my gifts were needed. This is when I began to realize I was a healer, and invested time and  money into grad school so that I could open a full time practice.

I also learned to surrender to the fact that I had no idea what my true calling would look like.

In accepting that I was hear to do something special, the next step was realizing that my own attempts to shape that reality actually kept me bound by my own limitations.   When I learned to surrender to the Universe (which I think of as the goddess) I learned that life can be so much more wonderful than you could ever imagine.  When I look back on what I thought I wanted at the beginning of grad school, I can see now that it would have made me miserable.  So by surrendering and being open to the opportunities that life presented with me, I am so much happier.

I learned that when you are ready to do your work, the universe steps up to support you in a million ways.

Just one example.  Upon finishing grad school I had some vague ideas of how I wanted to practice.  Actually there was one practitioner whom I really looked up to, and if I was going to open a clinic, I really wanted it to be like her clinic.  After a couple of months of  practicing out of my house and looking for the perfects space, who calls me on the phone?  This very practitioner.  There was an opening at her clinic and did I want to join them?  Um Yes!  It made it possible for me to make a living strait out of school.  From there I built a thriving practice that not only paid me, but fed my soul in so many ways.  It was not uncommon for me to look around while at work and think “I can’t believe I GET to do this for a living!”

Of course making this decision hasn’t meant that things have always been easy, there have been a lot of hard life lessons to learn (more about that in a future post).  But I’ve felt ALIVE and CONNECTED in ways I never thought possible, and that has made all the difference.

In what ways has saying yes opened up magic in your life?  Leave a comment below.

Allison Carr LAc believes that healing yourself makes the world a better place.  Learn more about her work and classes at



Navigating your late 20s, Part 3; visioning the future



I’m officially on maternity leave and in honor of the up-coming birth, and to make life a little easier, I’m reposting some of my old material here.  I originally ran this post back in 2010, but many of you may not have seen it.  I think its worth another look!

This article is part 3 of a series on the Saturn return, the period of transition between ages 27-3o. In part one we talked about what the Saturn return is and why you should care, in part two we covered the importance of clearing away old patterns and habits in order to move forward. In this section, we tackle what may be the most challenging part of this whole process: coming up with a vision for how you want to live your life as an adult. It’s challenging because we live in a culture that highly values critique and analysis. It is very easy for us to articulate what we don’t like about something, it’s not so easy to imagine how it could be different. We also live in a culture that is rampant with pessimism. The idea that if I set my expectations low, I will never be disappointed. Well that just isn’t true. If you set your expectations low, chances are you will only accomplish the bare minimum. Visioning the future in the way we want to live it requires us to take responsibility for what it is we want, and to admit that we are ready to get it. Neither of those things are easy.

How to begin: Start with the work we did in part two. In that article we talked about letting go of limiting ideas, habits and relationships. Sometimes knowing what you don’t want can be a good starting point for figuring out what you do want. Remember that list I asked you to make about all the things that are no longer true about you? Well you can take that list to re-craft the things that are true about yourself. Start with all the things that you got rid of and think about the opposite of them. Try to craft statements about yourself based on what you are. If one of your statements that is no longer true was something like: I’m socially awkward. Try turning it into something like: I’m a person that values community and works toward making community bonds stronger. I know it sounds cheesy, but it can be really empowering, and remember no one else has to read this stuff, its just for you. Make a list of all the things that you are now, even if you don’t totally feel like you are those things all the time. Keep this list somewhere where you can look at it often, daily if you can.

Think about what you want from life: Wanting things is somewhat of a taboo in our culture. On one hand there is the commercial/corporate driven ethic that more things will bring you happiness. Many of us have rejected that value and repleaced it with ethics that prioritize justice, community, and not destroying the environment. During the process of saturn return it is really important to be as honest with yourself about what you want as you can. Pay attention to desires that may be different from how you felt 5 years ago. When I went through this process I found that I finally had the energy to settle down in one place. Prior to that, I had really valued travelling, and felt that putting down roots would just tie me down. It was a big shift, and I had to let go of how I saw myself living, and replace it with a new vision. The same process can happen around how you feel about relationships, jobs, raising a family, making money. The challenge then becomes reconciling your new desires with your values and ethics and figuring out how to be the kind of person you want to be. For instance, in my own process there was a part of me that viewed settling down as a form of selling out. For me, the challenge was to figure out how to live a settled life with the kind of integrity that reflected my ethics.

What are you good at, what are you here to do?
This is a huge issue, and lies at the very heart of the transformation you are going through during Saturn return. Unfortunately one blog entry isn’t going to help you solve this one. But spending some time searching, and pondering this question, will help you immensely during this process. And remember, you don’t have to figure it all out by age 30. Actually, I see most people figure this one out in the years that follow the Saturn return. But is it is the work you do now that lays the ground work. This is the area where getting some outside help can really make a big difference. In Five Element Acupuncture the goal of treatment always to help a person become more fully themselves. Five Element treatments help us make peace with the things we are ready to let go of, and strengthen our inner core self, so that we can manifest our greatest strengths and values.

How to create and use Altars

How to create and use Altars

Want a simple easy way to infuse a spiritual element into any aspect of your life? Try creating an altar

Altars are a simple easy way to create or bring an element of the sacred anywhere. They can be simple or ornately complex. They can fit on the a small corner of your desk at work and no one will even notice they are there, or they can take up an entire room in your house, if you have rooms to spare, that is.

Setting up an altar is simple, and they can be profoundly powerful for changing the entire space that surrounds you.  I like to  think of altars as giving a place for spirit to rest in the room.  When you bring that element in anywhere, it changes everything.  Set one up at work to be a visual reminder not to get stuck on the small stuff.  If you are having a particularly hard time with something, set up an altar for yourself and a wish that you work through it.

I like to think of altars as the slow cookers of magic.  Sometimes we want something, or we want to see things happen, and we know its gonna take a while.  Set up an altar for that thing and think of it daily. In my house right now I currently have 4 official altars set up. One is for the spirit of my child, due to be born this July, another is for the goddess of abundance (its in the kitchen), one is just a collection of pictures of my and my partner’s ancestors above the fire place, and the other is a small collection of crystals near my bedside, which is just a reminder to love myself.

Here are the extremely simple steps to creating an altar.

  1. Clear space for them.  I like to start with a clean slate.  You don’t have to dedicate an entire table to the altar but clear and clean whatever space you are going to use.  Remember you are making room for something new in your life, by physically making that space, you will open up more opportunities for it to come into your life. If you feel called, smudge the area, or use clearing herbs like rosemary to clean it.
  2. Set an intention for the altar.  It can be a simple as having a place to remember what is sacred, or it can be as specific as I want a new job doing X.  I like to be as specific as possible with my altars while still leaving room for something better than I imagined.  So for instance if I were going to make an altar for a new job, I probably would focus more on the qualities I wanted in a job, rather than a specific position or company.  That way I leave room for miracles, like finding my dream job in a field I had never ever considered.  If there is a specific interview or job I’ve applied for, I would definitely put a reference to that job on the altar, but with the intention that I get it only if is really the best option for me.
  3. Use your intuition and a playful sense of creativity to create physical altar. I like to emphasize p
  4. kitchen altarlay when creating an altar.  Make it pretty, make it something that YOU like.  Just trust yourself when it come to colors, objects, arrangement.  I like to play with an altar until it feel right in my body. If you aren’t used to creating them, self-doubt and any self criticism about your own aesthetic sense is bound to come up.  Just acknowledge  it, and try anyway.  You can’t get this wrong.  Remember no one else has to know this is an alter, especially if you set one up at work.  Somethings to consider when making an altar: candles, incense  rocks, shells, a leaf, flowers, sacred images you love, pictures of you, those you love, statues of religious figures or deities.

Here’s a little homework, set up an altar and leave me a comment about how it went.


Allison Carr LAc believes that healing yourself makes the world a better place.  Learn more about her work and classes at