Leave a Margin for Magic.


We stood at the front of the conference room, a little shaky, yet enthusiastic. We were presenting our projects and financials from the previous year and our business goals for the coming year. Everyone else in the room had 7-figure+ businesses, and we felt like the country bumpkins flying in from Maine with the smallest business in the room.

We shared our revenue goal for the year and the projections for what each project would bring in. But the totals didn’t add up exactly to the goal for the year. We had come in slightly under.

One of the guys in the mastermind drilled us, asking where the rest of the revenue was going to come from. How did we think we were going to get to our somewhat lofty goal?

I shared that we didn’t know exactly but that it always works out. I said that we don’t obsess over where every single dollar for our annual revenue goal is going to come from.

Our experience has been that beautiful things emerge in business and otherwise when we have a solid plan but don’t obsess about exactly how every single piece of it is going to come to pass.

Instead, we leave a margin for magic.

Hanging on too tightly to the how squelches possibility. {Tweet it.} hanging-on-too-tightly-to-the-how-squelches-possibility-tweet

When you’re so deeply attached to how your goal will manifest, you often miss out on opportunities for it to come about that were even easier, faster, or more fun than what you’d originally imagined.

Here’s how this works in real life:

We had a goal to bring in $150K with a certain project in a certain period of time. At the very end of the last day of this project we were at $141K. We felt really good about those results. Though we came in just under our goal, we felt like it was a solid promotion and were proud of what we’d created.

Then, just as Mike was about to shut down his computer for the night, he noticed an unexpected deposit that had come in for $10K. It wasn’t from the same project. It was a whole other thing that we had no idea was coming that day, and it popped us just over our revenue goal.

I get why the guy at the mastermind wanted us to create a plan for how every single dollar would be earned during the year to meet our goal. But I simply don’t like to operate that way.

I like to leave some breathing room around my goals. I’m merely human, and I get that I’m not keyed in to every single possibility that’s out there for me at any given time, let alone an entire year ahead.

If I’m overly attached to the how, the magic gets snuffed right out.

We like to leave a margin for magic in our business. Do we have plans and goals and timelines? You bet your bippy. But we give them space. Because magic needs space.

Next time you’re mapping out your income goals, or any other goals for that matter, leave some wiggle room for the delightfully unexpected.

When you expect to be pleasingly surprised by the how, chances are good you will be.

Get clear on what you want. Plan away. And then don’t forget to leave a margin for magic.



How do you do goal setting and planning? Have you ever had a time where you were pleasantly surprised by how something manifested that you desired? Tell me about it in the comments!


  • I’m working on something right now for this coming Saturday and I’ve been obsessing over the detail to the point of nausea and lack of appetite. This is so timely for me.

    Thank you Kate x

    • Kate Northrup

      Oh Moira I’m so glad this came at the right time for you. You’ll have a magical event I’m sure!

      • Hi Kate,

        I just had to come back and tell you that, the event was phenomenal. I had my plan and idea of how I would host it and lead, then within 15 minutes my core plan was out the window and the magic began. Moira pre reading this post would have thought ‘oh sh*t!’ but instead I was open and allowed the expansion and it was perfect.

        I left the event smiling to infinity, I’m sure the people who saw me on the tube (London subway) thought I was one raisin short of a fruit cake but I didn’t care. I couldn’t help it, I was like a cheshire cat.

        The feedback has been so inspiring, I’m already planning the next one and this time, I’m doing it with ease and grace.

        Thank you again x

  • I LOVE this, Kate and SO true!
    It’s so delicious to set your goal, take action and know that so many fun things (magic) are going to show up along the way that make the whole experience better than you imagined!
    You are a beautiful writer and thank you for sharing this experience :) ~xo

  • Joyce

    What a lovely article.

  • Dear Kate and Mike,

    Thank you for this. Kate, I have heard you discduss this same theme before. It is always good to be reminded of the situation. I do plan my day; what I am going to do, with whom I will be talking or where I will be going. I do not obsess over the “how” anymore. I simply take the step into the fog and the next step appears. And I have been more than pleasantly surprised on tons of occasions! The Universe works in beautiful ways for us!
    Thanks for this. Have a Beautiful and Peaceful Day!

  • Oh my goodness, I love this, Kate! You so BEAUTIFULLY put into such eloquent words something that I have known in my gut for so long. I am writing a business book and have been trying to figure out the words to communicate this knowing, so reading your blog today SO RESONATED. Trying to figure out the how is HUGELY limiting. Over and over again, I’ve seen both employees and clients get stuck – they won’t even let themselves dream about what they really want because they can’t see how they will be able to get it or create it. I love this idea of “leaving a margin for magic!” I think that when you tune into what you want to create (and why), that’s your soul speaking to you. Then the mind wants to get involved with the hows. In my experience, every time I commit to the WHAT and the WHY, the next inspired step always appears LIFE MAGIC!

    Ultimately, I 100% believe that there’s wisdom in the UNCERTAINTY – in not knowing all the hows. It’s really the field of all potential and possibilities. It’s the “margin for magic!!!!” I love that!

  • The “how” is where I live and it IS often prohibitive! It keeps me spinning my wheels- especially when I feel I need to explain a concrete plan to my husband or family- people who I ask for support. Any pointers on not knowing, but still communicating confidently?

  • Gosh this resonates with me right now. And what you’re describing is EXACTLY the way my biggest goals have unfurled. You’re right: too much HOW really does crush the ways the universe can show up and help. I think that’s because too much focus on HOW is quite fear based – it’s about a lack of trust somehow. And the other extreme (hey man, let’s just trust it will happen) is too flaky. It’s a delicate balance that’s very personal (it’s easy to LOOK like you’re doing all the good stuff…but it’s only real personal honesty that can keep us in that sweet spot where magic can happen). I’m re-reading Richard Bliss Brooke’s ‘Mach II with your hair on fire’ right now – such a good guide to mastering the ways to invite unseen forces to help you manifest your goals. Another great blog, thanks Kate x

    • Kate Northrup

      It’s so true, Helen. Not one way or the other – the dance between doing and allowing that all of us must feel for ourselves!

  • I’m so on board with this. Goals are one thing, rigidity is another. I’ve been blessed with everything from a $63 cash gift to a high five figure annual passive income when I least expected it. Being clear, moving forward, and allowing, receiving the magic is awesome.

  • Sally Galloway

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE this. I am one of those triple Virgo perfectionists that get stuck–no, paralyzed–with details of HOW so that I never release what could be great into the unknown to let it fly. Great timing, just as the mercury retrograde subsides. Thank you, Kate. Right on time.

  • Thank you,to you and your mother for so many reasons! My daughter and I are just starting our Usana business in Ontario, Canada. We wanted to join the Freedom Family but felt it was better for us to go with a more ‘local’ connection but I hope you don’t mind if we follow your site. I have never worried too much about money because somehow I always have or get what I need. Some examples are… Receiving a payback on a loan I gave a friend so long ago, that I had forgotten, receiving back pay for a pay equity issue that I was uaware was even being explored or getting a cheque for overpayment of taxes!
    The web site is not yet up and running, but we have secured the domain name and we are ON OUR WAY!

  • Brenda Steinmeyer

    Kate, a beautifully written story of a beautiful aspect of life-magic. What I have to share is about the business of life. My small great nephews and two of their friends, along with their parents, were visiting us at the lake over the Labor Day weekend. When they arrived on Friday night I invited the 2, the 3, the 4 and the 5 year olds to look for something very special while they were here. With much joy I told them the air at the lake was magic and to watch for it. It could come in a dream or just about any way. I didn’t know how but I knew it would happen if only they knew to look for it. The next morning I was up before everyone and sat outside. And the magic happened. When the sun came up the reflection off of the lake looked as if there were two suns framed between the trees. I took a picture and the wonderment shined on their faces and the belief was instilled. Magic! It’s already there.

  • Caroline

    Hello Kate,
    Thank you for sharing this! It was beautifully written and brought a smile to my face. “I will figure it out” is one of my mottos for all aspects of my life. The Universe does work in wonderful ways.
    All the best,

  • Katie

    I have been challenged by what I perceived as a dichotomy between allowing things to happen organically and planning for success. How can I allow and plan at the same time? Your words gave me the exact visual picture that I needed to make sense of it. A magician cannot perform his act if his audience is too close and hovering. Thank you!!!

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