Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Living without goals


On New Year's Eve, I tried to explain my decision to forego making resolutions this year, choosing instead to trust myself as a creative individual, to follow the leadings of my heart on a daily basis,  and work on developing better daily routines. 

Then my brother sent me a link to a wonderful post by Leo Babauta (click HERE) in which this inspiring individual explains why goals as a system usually result in failure. It resonated with me so deeply that I am absolutely convinced I am on the right track. It's a little scary for a compulsive list maker who has gotten through many difficult periods by looking ahead to a planned vacation or a major holiday to contemplate a life without goals. On the other hand, I love surprises, especially the good kind. And please understand that this decision isn't the result of an inability to focus or the lack of a work ethic. On the contrary: I know what I want and I am willing to work hard to get it. I am simply give myself permission to pursue my passions as a lifestyle as opposed to relegating them to items on a to-do list. And, like Mr. Babauta, I have found myself "achieving more than if I had goals, because I'm always doing something I'm excited about. But whether I achieve or not isn't the point at all: all that matters is that I'm doing what I love, always."

After just a few short weeks of this new way of thinking, my spirit is in a much better place. Much of my negative thought-buzz has disappeared; I feel balanced, motivated, and (dare I say it?) happy. So, inspired by Eydie of What We Create (click HERE), I have chosen a "little word" for myself for 2012, a word for contemplation and meditation, a word to help guide me as I move through my days . That word is RELEASE. Finally, I am ready to let go: of relationships that take much and give little in return; of goals and expectations that impose limits rather than lead to success; of a daily grind that steals my precious time and robs me of my joy. 

Of everything that has kept me small.

If this sounds threatening to you - and a year ago, it would have sounded downright ominous to me - then it might be something you need to examine. Check out the tips for living without goals on the Zen Habits website, and try spending just a few hours exploring your passions without a predetermined agenda. You might be amazed at what you will discover.

Happy New Year!


eric said...

Your brother sounds wise beyond his years! ;)

Pam Asberry said...

It's true, Eric; my brother is AWESOME. :-)

Natalie said...

Yes, I have a to-do list of things that HAVE to be done, should be done and things I really want to be done. Do I get them all crossed off....hardly ever. But if at the end of the day I can make a huge list of things I did then I feel pretty good ;)

Carley said...

Your brother has given you wise advice as he states & you are both awesome! That is a totally unbiased opinion-LOL

S.M. Carrière said...

High five, Pam!

I make small goals for myself - like a target word count, for instance - but my overarching goal is:

Be happy

I decided to do this in 2010. Thus far, it's been a pretty good run. I am SO certain that it'll be marvellous for you as well.

After all, if there is anyone who deserves to be happy, it's you!

Tami Brothers said...

I'm glad this is working out for you. Sounds like a good start to the new year.

I'm not sure if I could go without goals and to-do lists. I have so much stuff that has to be done, I have a feeling I would end up missing something without them written down.

Might have to think on this, though. I do like the idea of feeling free.


Pam Asberry said...

I make lists too, Natalie; I don't think this is contradictory to living without goals. I will discuss this more in my next blog post. :-)

Pam Asberry said...

LOL, Mom! :-)

Pam Asberry said...

I have abandoned my word count goals too, S.M., and I think my writing is improving as a result. Monday, for example, I labored over one paragraph for a long time; as a result, my total for the day was less than 200. Yesterday, though, the words were flowing; I worked all morning, at the exclusion of everything else, and added over 3000 words to my manuscript. Previously, I would have stopped the moment I hit my pre-selected number for the day, whether it was 500 or 1000. Then today I was busy with other things and didn't get to write at all, but I am okay with that, whereas before I would have beaten myself up for missing a day. I understand that every writer's process is different, and I'm not suggesting that anyone else should follow my lead, but this new approach to life is really working for me. Best of all, it seems to be leading me down a path to greater happiness, which seems like the ultimate goal for all of us. Here's wishing you MUCH happiness in 2012! :-)

Pam Asberry said...

See my reply to Natalie re/list making, Tami. It's not like I'm giving myself permission to do nothing - well, unless that's what I need to do. There have certainly been plenty of times I have run myself into the ground and ended up sick as a result. And that's too high a price to pay for feeling productive. Mostly, I am just trusting myself to do the most important thing in any given moment. So far, so good. :-)

Eydie said...


I LOVE your word RELEASE. It creates so many possibilities.

I am honored and grateful for your kind words about my posting. It bright a huge ray of sunlight to my day.

big hugs,

Pam Asberry said...

RELEASE really does suggest a myriad of possibilities, Eydie. Thank you for inspiring me to choose a word!