The following is based on the opening spiel to a class I just taught addressing a lot of the pitfalls of sorcery (those I’ve encountered and see others encounter).
One of the most obvious pitfalls I see with sorcererous folks is the lack of clear and reasonable goals. I have actually seen people on forums asking for spells to simply “make my life better” and in the process of writing this post I just saw a forum post “Best money spells, go!” But even when people focus on something specific it can be too vague, or too big. Wealth and love magick are probably the two biggest offenders here. People want spells to attract money or love, and leave it at that, as if wealth and money were as simple as a yes or no option.
I’m amused by how many people know of SMART goals from their work, but don’t apply it to magick. If you’re not familiar with SMART goals, it’s an acronym, a few different versions float around, but I use it standing for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
When you’re setting a magickal goal, ask the question: is it SMART? Let’s use getting a new job as an example.
I’m doing magick to get a job…is that specific? No. That goal needs more details, if that’s all you have then even if you succeed, who knows where you’ll end up. Flesh that out. What type of job? What field? What pay range? What work environment.
I’m doing magick to get a job as an accountant with a stable tech firm making enough money to be comfortable paying my rent and my bills. Is that specific? That’s a hell of a lot better, and if you just shore up your magick from job-in-general to that job, you’re already way ahead of the game.
Be careful though, there is a difference between tightening your magickal goals, and strangling them. Sometimes people can be so specific that there is only one avenue for something to occur (if that). If your job spell is so descriptive and demanding that there is only one possible job for you, then your chances will be exceedingly slim. (Note: This is different than enchanting for a specific job you know of)
Is it measurable? Yes, you have a success/failure criteria. If you end up working at a Starbucks that’s a failure. But it doesn’t have to be binary, you could end up as an accountant with a large retail company, but everything else is what you asked for, it’s not a complete success, but you can measure where you failed and where you succeeded.
Is it attainable? Hopefully, do you have a back ground in accounting, or a degree? That would help. If you just got out of high school it might be unattainable for you. Or if you’re applying for a job way above your qualifications that’s an issue. Attainable is something a lot of magick folk want to argue with me about, saying if it’s attainable why use magick, or if magick makes things happen why not use it for harder to obtain things?
Magick, in this way, I think is like exercise, you should always push yourself a bit farther than where you are. If you can jog for 15 minutes, then try upping yourself to 17, then 20 minutes. But if you can jog 15 minutes, don’t try for a 45 minute run. Don’t use magick to stay where you are, but there is a difference in the attainability and probability of going from desk clerk to accountant, than from desk clerk to Assistant Vice President. You can work your way all the way up the career magickally if you want to take the time, but you can rarely make the jump. Magick can nudge things in your favour, but only so far.
Another way to look at it is how my one teacher explained it. Magick makes things happen, things that are unlikely become more likely, but only to an extent. If something has a 1% change of happening, with magick we might bump it up to 10, 15, or 20%, imagine making something 20 times more likely to happen. Now look at the lottery, you have a 1 in 7,000,000 chance to win, but magick even if you increase your odds 20 times over, that’s still 20 out of 7 million, or one out of 350,000. So it doesn’t help that much, you’re still unlikely to ever win. Magick for what is attainable, and realistic, but don’t settle for a status quo.
Relevant can mean a lot of things. Basically it is useful or practical. Think about how many sorcerers brag about talking to gods and ghosts, or how psychic they are, or how often they do magick to “raise their vibrations” or “ascend the spheres” or all the past lives they remember. Now how many of them are actually getting anywhere? (Don’t get me wrong, I talk to gods and ghosts daily, would argue I’m psychic, and I love going up the spheres, but I know I need to handle shit in the real world too)
What about the goals you’re picking, are they useful? Are they relevant? Think about how this goal will or won’t help you get where you want. Then decide if it is worth the effort. I’m not saying everything needs a profound purpose in your magick, but know why you’re doing it. I’m the sovereign of doing useless shit with magick when I learn a new system, just to prove results. When I teach sigils I often get people to pick clear, minor, and useless goals, just to see their success. Things like “I’ll see a woman in a red dress before lunch.” “I will get a piece of cake.” It proves it works. Just know why you’re doing it, and ask if it will be useful.
Lastly time-bound. Especially if you’re working with spirits. Conjuring up a spirit that’s been working with your magickal tradition for centuries, you and they might see time a bit different so even if you ask for a job with all the specifics…when will it provide it? Give an end time to the working, so you know if you’ve succeeded, or if you fail and it’s time to move on and try something else. Even if you don’t use an external entity, being time-bound in your goal is a way to focus and contain the working.
I know this seems unmagickal to a lot of people, but you have to remember, magick is a tool like any other, it’s not just about using it, but knowing how to use it the most effective ways possible, and a surprisingly large chunk of that can just be targeting your magick. Even if you change nothing else in how you perform your magick, just having a clear goal will help you be more effective.
Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound. If you can actually ensure that your magickal goals are hitting those five things you’re on the right track.