July 4th, 2011 8:12 AM by Lehel S.
The Year of Going Goal-Less
I'm a huge believer in setting goals. I've always had goals for the year, for my reading and personal development, for my marriage -- for just about everything that's important to me. Typically, I have goals for the day, goals for the month, a variety of 30-, 60- and 90-day targets. I can't help myself! Goals bring order and productivity, they make sense, they are familiar and they work.
I've often written that human beings are goal-achieving creatures. It's how our brains work. We look at the world and we see things that need to be done, things that interest or challenge us, and we set goals. We make to-do lists.
We set budgets or priorities. We don't always achieve them, but big and small goals seem to be how we manage our lives.
Sometimes we set big written goals for the year. We define goals and aspirations for our work, and for our lives. And almost every day we set small goals to plan a birthday party, to lose a few pounds or to plan a date with our special squeeze. Human beings do this all the time and I think that's good.
But there is also something mysterious about goals. We set yearly goals for our business or to save for a major vacation or for retirement, and too often, those goals fall by the wayside. They get lost or forgotten or neglected and over time, we get frustrated. That's so common that we call it "normal."
Well, we've decided to change that this year.
This year Mary and I decided to set no goals at all.
Historically, we've used an elaborate goal-setting process.
During the holidays, we've reviewed the past year, examined our budgets and income, discussed our values and priorities, and come up with goals for the new year. And I have to say, the system has worked very well! We've achieved a lot, learned a lot, and had some fun. Over-all, we've found the process rewarding and profitable.
But this year is different. Somewhere in the midst of our goal-setting process we decided to do something radical, to take a risk, to "fly by the seat of our pants" for 2011.
We're going to follow our passions, do what excites and motivates and energizes us and trust that somehow, as adults, we'll do alright.
Now, I want to be clear. We have written lists of "interests" and a variety of "projects." There are specific things that are important to me and I fully expect that with time and effort and focus, good things will result. But we've decided to avoid the "g-word."
For many people, setting traditional written goals, breaking them into concrete action steps and following a budget to achieve them works really well. If so, I strongly encourage you to do that!
But for others, goals seem confining or limiting. There's a sense of restriction or discomfort with the linear process of starting at Point A and proceeding methodically to Point B. If that applies to you, I invite you to join us in defining your values and your passions, getting very specific and practical about what's most important and then "go for it."
Trust your instincts and do what makes sense! Work hard and stay focused, but let your inner wisdom figure out the steps or the "how-to." If you are clear about your values and priorities so you can avoid distractions and impulse choices (careless spending, wasted time/effort, and the attraction of "bright shiny objects") then you might want to try going naked and goal-less. It should be interesting!