Consider Giving Up Goals


"Goals can actually demotivate players in sports.
When your focus is on hitting specific performance targets
such as batting averages, you often underperform.
The stress of having to perform creates a vicious cycle.
The best players are less focused on numbers
and are able to take one swing at a time.
They are in the moment."

Dr. Doug Gardner
former sports psychology consultant to the Boston Red Sox


Living without goals definitely takes courage. 

When I first heard the concept of living without goals over 10 years ago, I actually got upset. 

And to top it off, I heard it from one of my highly respected mentors, Thomas I was even a little bit more upset. 

I thought, "that's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard - what would I ever get done if I didn't have a plan and goals?!?" and went right back to setting goals and working hard to achieve them. 

But the idea stuck with me, mainly because it felt so radical. 

And after a decade of flirting with the idea, I have spent the last couple of years deeply exploring what it's like to live without external goals and follow my inner guidance instead - and still get things done. 

And here's what I'm learning: I find that I often get much MORE done when I don't set goals than when I do. And I'm spending time doing what I love, which is a huge reward in itself. 

According to Stephen Shapiro, author of Goal-Free Living, there are 8 secrets to living life free from the constant pressure of goals: 

  • Use a compass, not a map - have a sense of direction, and then let yourself wander and try new things on the way to fulfilling your aspirations
  • Trust that you are never lost - every seemingly wrong turn is an opportunity to learn and experience new things
  • Remember that opportunity knocks often, but sometimes softly - while blindly pursuing our goals, we often miss unexpected and wonderful possibilities
  • Want what you have - measure your life by your own yardstick and appreciate who you are, what you do, and what you have . . . now
  • Seek out adventure - treat your life like the one-time-only journey it is and revel in new and different experiences
  • Become a people magnet - constantly seek, build, and nurture relationships with new people so that you always have the support and camaraderie of others
  • Embrace your limits - transform your inadequacies and boundaries into unique qualities you can use to your advantage
  • Remain detached - focus on the present, act with a commitment to the future, and avoid worrying about how things will turn out

So if the idea of putting together another one-year, five-year, or ten-year plan fills you with frustration, consider the idea of letting go of goals as a way of life. 

And play with the idea of following your guidance all day long, each and every day. 

You may be surprised at the wonderful opportunities that unfold.