Happy 2011 everyone! Have you broken any New Year's Resolutions yet? Just kidding. Hopefully we can go at least one week before doing that.
1. Goals cause unnecessary stress. I would always feel terrible if I didn't hit my goal. I would beat myself up about it and be blind to the progress I did achieve. I would then start pushing myself even harder and typically end up sick, tired, and fed up with both the goal and myself.
2. Goals cause laziness. On the flip side, when I did achieve a goal I would routinely become complacent afterward. For example, I used to have a set dollar amount I wanted to earn each month. Some months I'd hit the mark in two weeks. I could never get much done for the rest of the month. I think on a subconscious level I knew I hit my goal, so why work even harder? It took me some time to recognize this pattern because I wasn't doing it intentionally, but it happened enough times that I eventually make the connection that as soon as I hit the goal I would tune out and become a slacker.
3. Goals blind us to other opportunities. I was so focused on my goal that if anything different presented itself it was seen as an annoyance or a roadblock. Never an opportunity. Goals put us in a state of tunnel vision and I think we end up missing a lot of fun things or other creative possibilities by keeping our eye on the prize.
This isn't to say that we should wander around aimlessly. But I think we need a fresh way to approach achievement and goals. I think we need to spend more time appreciating what we already have right now. So many goals are rooted in a belief that once achieving them we will be happier. But any goal that is born from a lack mentality will not fulfill us once attained. We need new ways of setting goals that don't limit us or stress us out. Instead...
1. Set intentions. I have been experimenting with setting very loose intentions. I have certain areas of life that I want to focus on, but I don't put specifics on it anymore. I find I can be more flexible, less stressed if I miss the mark because there is no mark, and more grateful for what I am able to attain.
2. Be the right person. Rather than setting goals that are externally measurable, try setting the intention of being the best version of yourself no matter the external circumstance. This is way more fun and interesting. Through out the day I ask myself "How would the best me do this activity?" (I even ask this when doing laundry.) This allows us to know we are "living up to our potential" no matter what we are doing.
3. Gratitude for what is. The best thing about dumping goals is that it allows me to notice and appreciate what I already have. I find I live more in the present and less in some "grass is greener" future that goals would lure me into.
2011 is going to be a fascinating year. I am looking forward to seeing what comes along life's path this year. Really my only "goal" this year is to be the best ME I can and to remind myself to do that. I wish you the best on your life journey as well! Let's make 2011 the best one yet! If you are interested in more articles on goalless living: