How To Set Health Goals & Surrender Attachment To Outcomes

setting goals

1st September 2013

By Lissa Rankin MD

Guest Writer for  Wake Up World

If you’ve ever tried to set a health goal, you know how frustrating it can be. You try to lose weight – and then it doesn’t happen. You do a detox cleanse with the goal of reducing the symptoms of a chronic illness – and you wind up even sicker. You spend a fortune on alternative medicine cures, and your illness doesn’t budge.

It’s enough to make you pull your hair out.

Set Goals, But Release Attachment To Outcomes

I always encourage my clients to set goals, do everything they can to achieve those goals, and then let go…

I believe that while we can make the body ripe for miracles, we must accept that, when it comes right down to it, we simply can’t control the outcome. Yes, we can eat well, exercise, avoid toxic exposures, get enough sleep, and follow doctor’s orders. We can also be healthy in other aspects of our lives by addressing the stress-inducing factors that can predispose the body to illness – factors like alleviating loneliness, reducing work stress, and actively making efforts to be happier.

As I teach about in my TEDx talk, I’m a firm believer in balancing your “Whole Health Cairn”. When you do, the scientific data proves that you make the body ripe for miracles. But even so, some people who do everything “right” to optimize the health of the body wind up still sick.

Why Some Get Sick & Others Stay Healthy

Why? As it turns out, other factors seem to be at play. Call it self-sabotaging unconscious beliefs, call it lack of self-esteem, call it karma, call it divine will, or call it cellular degeneration, it’s a known fact that we’re all going to die one day and some of us will get sick along the way. Heartbreakingly, some of those people will be innocent newborns. Some will be blameless 6 year olds. Some will be mothers with three young children who have a brain aneurysm that bursts during labor, leaving a father to raise the children alone. Some will suffer from the effects of a toxic waste dump they unwittingly lived near. Some will die of congenital anomalies with which they were born. Some were Jews in a Holocaust. Some were Tutsis in Rwanda. And some are 97 year old scoundrels, having buried everyone they know.

While I believe miracles are always possible, sometimes cure simply doesn’t happen. We must make peace with this fact. But when we mix faith, love, gratitude, intention, self-care, and Divine intervention in a Petri dish with the healing of self-limiting, unconscious beliefs, we pave the way for seemingly miraculous spontaneous remissions. By healing your mind and your life, you create the perfect environment for cure, even in the most unlikely of circumstances. And if cure isn’t meant to happen, healing allows you to live with illness or die in a state of grace.

Guilt, blame, shame, and fault-finding have no place in the healing process, whereas personal responsibility, self-forgiveness, and embracing illness as an opportunity to learn from the body do. That said, even when you accept personal responsibility, shift limiting beliefs, diagnose the real reason you’re sick, prescribe the right treatment for yourself, and do everything “right,” there’s a chance you will stay sick – and it has nothing to do with “fault.”

The Spiritual Path Of Illness

When it comes right down to it, I believe we have choice and free will. Our destinies are not fixed and unmovable, and we are not the victims of some punishing deity. We can affect the outcome of our lives by the courageous, miracle-making actions we take. But when it comes right down to it, we simply can’t control our lives. Herein lies the art of surrender.

We can make efforts to heal ourselves. We can control parts of our lives, but at some point, after we’ve done what we can to make our bodies ripe for miracles, it’s out of our hands. We must let go.

If you dream of being cured from an illness or simply want to optimize your already good health, call upon the Divine. Make your desires known. Ask for what you need. Accept personal responsibility and do your part. Set goals but release attachment to outcomes. Then leap off the cliff, have faith in the process, and trust that you’ll have peace when you either land gently or learn that you can fly.

When You Try To Seize Control Of Your Life

It took me decades to learn these lessons, not just as they relate to illness, but as they relate to life. One of my most eloquent teachers was Dr. Christiane Northrup. When I was in the midst of my first twenty city book tour, I found myself spiraling down into a particularly dark spot of self-doubt, fear, and limiting beliefs, so I reached out to my friend Regena Thomashauer (aka “Mama Gena”), looking for guidance. Regena called Dr. Northrup and Christiane said, “Lissa is brilliant at DOING, but she needs to learn how to RECEIVE. Lissa needs to learn to be less sperm, more egg. This is Lissa’s dark night of the soul, and while I might be able to help her, I don’t want to keep her from learning this soul lesson.”

It wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear. But holy moly. Dr. Northrup was right!

I wrote a letter to Dr. Northrup and thanked her for her eggy wisdom. She wrote back and said, “Of course you are a do-er. There’s no way to get through a surgical residency if you’re not. But then, in order to thrive, we find that what got us to where we are will kill us if we continue! And you’re coming up on the developmental stage where the doing will really bite you in the ass if you don’t learn to receive.”

Be Less Sperm, More Egg

What Dr. Northrup said grabbed me in the heart. Everything within me screamed, “Yes!”

As I wrote about here, I’m a master at being spermy. Give me a set of action steps that need to be accomplished, and I’m on it lickety-split. Consider it done. Being spermy became an adaptive mechanism for me. At one point in my life, it served me well and allowed me to survive my medical education, which gave me the gift of teaching me what I needed to learn in order to write Mind Over Medicine.

But I came to realize, with Dr. Northrup’s guidance, that this adaptation no longer served me. Ever since, I’ve made efforts to balance my spermyness and my eggyness in all aspects of my life. Like the yin and yang of masculine and feminine, both are equally necessary.

Do The “Ass in Chair” Work

I usually start with being spermy. Do what you can to heal your negative beliefs about your health. Diagnose why you’re really sick. Research which doctor to see. Assemble your team. Make the call. Read about your health condition online. Buy the juicer. Do the green juice cleanse. Order the supplements. Say the prayer. Rally your support network. Ask for what you need. Send the e-mail. Write The Prescription based on how your Inner Pilot Light guides you.

Do the “ass in chair” work of making your body ripe for miracles. Change your diet. Repair your relationships. Release resentments. Get in touch with your life purpose. Figure out what’s true for you about your sex life. Express yourself creatively. Say a prayer and express your desire for the perfect marriage of healing and curing.

Miracle, Find Me Now!

But once you’ve done all your spermy work, it’s time to be the egg. My friend SARK is an egg goddess. She closes her eyes, puts out her hands, palms to heaven, and says, “Miracle, find me now.”

Once, when she was financially strapped with no idea how she was going to pay for food, she did just that. Standing on the streets of San Francisco, she closed her eyes, placed her palms up, and six $100 bills literally blew into her hands. (Yes, she did wait hours to see if any more would blow by!)

It’s All About Trust

Being the egg is about sitting back and waiting, trusting that you’ve done what you can to make miracles likely and that whatever is meant to happen will happen in divine timing in just the perfect way. Being the egg requires releasing fear and tapping into your faith. The two can’t coexist. Fear is the opposite of faith. When you choose to let one rule, the other fades away.

If you let fear rule you, you’ll likely wind up panicking when you try to be eggy. You’ll convince yourself you need to try harder. Be more sperm. It’s easy to get caught up in sperm mode 24/7. But when you’ve done your sperm work and you surrender to being the egg, magical things begin to unfold. Miracles find you in the most unlikely ways.

Healing yourself requires being both the sperm and the egg. When you’ve first done the sperm work of making your body ripe for miracles and then surrendered into your eggyness, the outcome is out of your hands. At that point, what happens is not your fault.

Are You Balancing Eggy & Spermy?

Have you done what you can to live an optimally healthy, happy life? Are you able to let go when you’ve done what you can?

Tell us your stories.

Still trying to be more eggy,

Previous articles by Lissa

About the author

lissa_rankinLissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself. She is on a grass roots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself.

Lissa blogs at and also created two online communities – and She is also the author of two other books, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. Lissa lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.

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