Insanity of Motherhood

Motherhood, marriage, and midlife.



For the last two years I have struggled finding a new career path.  No new information to report, but I may have new developed a new attitude toward my situation.  Instead of developing a plan to achieve my goal of finding a new career, I have decided to eliminate the idea of having the goal completely.

Inspired by the words from a friend who mentioned, “not everything we do has to have a goal” I have done a little research about what it means to live a goalless life.  Is this really possible?  Will I be able to carry out anything?  If I don’t have a goal, how will I be able to measure my success?  These are just some of the questions about the topic.

I have a career.  It is being a full-time home parent and home manager.  I like my job.  I really like it now that the kids are in school all day.  The aspects of my job I don’t like are the lack of pay, social isolation and limited means to measure if I am successful or not.  I also write a blog.  My blog is not a job, but more of a hobby.  Several people have asked me if I would like blogging to be a career.  I suppose I would like that, but being financially successful from a blog is difficult.  I lack confidence in my ability to attract the masses, which is what an advertiser would want before placing an ad on my blog.  My blog is done out of enjoyment, not obligation.  I worry accepting financial compensation would alter my writing style.

Living without focusing on a goal sounds lazy, but the reality is I still would get things done.  I would just not worry about working toward something every minute of everyday.  Not all of my actions will done toward achieving.  Some actions will be done just for sheer enjoyment.  Most of us limit our enjoyment because we want to get things done.  The problem is even though we get a lot accomplished in a day, we often do not feel happy.

Certain things must be done on a daily, weekly and yearly basis.  We can’t escape the responsibilities of living.  But maybe I don’t have to go back to school (something I really don’t want to do) or volunteer a set number of hours a week.  Maybe some things don’t need to be done with a goal in mind.  Knowing I can volunteer without the obligation of a set number of hours, makes me more positive about doing it.  I think this concept can be applied to many aspects of my life.  What if I took the pressure off myself to “be” in a certain career position by a specific time?  What would happen?  What if I keep doing all the things that I love (taking care of my family and writing my blog) and waited to see what happened?  This is the concept of living a goalless life that appeals to me.

As I mentioned, after my friend talked to me about not having goals I did a little research on the topic.  I came across a wonderful article about living without goals.  The article’s author Leo Babauta, discusses the problem with goals, what living without goals looks like and how to live a goalless life.   I would like to share a little of his article so you can get a better understanding of the concept.

The problem with goals

In the past, I’d set a goal or three for the year, and then sub-goals for each month. Then I’d figure out what action steps to take each week and each day, and try to focus my day on those steps.

Unfortunately, it never, ever works out this neatly. You all know this. You know you need to work on an action step, and you try to keep the end goal in mind to motivate yourself. But this action step might be something you dread, and so you procrastinate. You do other work, or you check email or Facebook, or you goof off.

And so your weekly goals and monthly goals get pushed back or side-tracked, and you get discouraged because you have no discipline. And goals are too hard to achieve. So now what? Well, you review your goals and reset them. You create a new set of sub-goals and action plans. You know where you’re going, because you have goals!

Of course, you don’t actually end up getting there. Sometimes you achieve the goal and then you feel amazing. But most of the time you don’t achieve them and you blame it on yourself.

Here’s the secret: the problem isn’t you, it’s the system! Goals as a system are set up for failure.

Even when you do things exactly right, it’s not ideal. Here’s why: you are extremely limited in your actions. When you don’t feel like doing something, you have to force yourself to do it. Your path is chosen, so you don’t have room to explore new territory. You have to follow the plan, even when you’re passionate about something else.

Some goal systems are more flexible, but nothing is as flexible as having no goals.

I think what draws me most to the idea of being goalless is the feeling anything is possible.  I know if something excites me I will be motivated and passionate about doing it.  I feel this way about writing my blog.  It is not a meaningless chore I must do.  It is difficult at times to write, but I do not feel a sense of dread doing it.  Perhaps that is the idea of living with no goals.  Making sure you doing things you enjoy for reasons that will make you happy.

I will still do the work of daily living, but release the expectation to accomplish a specific career by a set time.  Sounds good to me.

The midlife something contiues…

Author: insanityofmotherhood

Mom of three boys, wife, educator, and all around nice gal in the middle of a midlife something. It's not a crisis, but it's something…

13 thoughts on “Goalless

  1. I did the flip flop of what you are doing. I had my children when I was 20, 21, and 22. I stayed home for about 15 years with a few side jobs and doing home daycare. Then I went back to work and school and achieved a career. I was definitely not in a money making business, you know that, but I contributed to the family income, saved for retirement with excellent benefits, and i enjoyed doing what I was doing. When I hit 62 and, I felt, I was needed by my family more than ever I was able to retire and still have an income. There isn’t a format that fits everybody. You and Steve have to do what works for you as a family. Some people work themselves to death, literally, and die within a year after retiring. A career is what you make it, not by someone’s definition.

  2. I think setting goals just so that you have goals to work towards is a bad idea. For that reason, I refuse to set new years resolutions.

    On the other hand, I have things that I am passionate about doing, things that are not simple, but complex and involve getting through many steps. I’m good with those goals. Then again, I view them more like a road map, and I’m allowed to take pit stops and detours!

    • What a great response. Indeed we all set goals for ourselves, otherwise how would we accomplish anything. But goal setting when our heart isn’t in it is a waste of time. I am learning to let go of things that do not really make me happy. Sounds like you are already doing that.

  3. “Making sure you doing things you enjoy for reasons that will make you happy”(and fulfilled)
    well said as usual ….

  4. I have never set goals, and I’ve always felt guilty about it.

  5. What a great post! I also struggled about two years to find a new career path when we moved to NL. But then I realized that the most important thing was to have a healthy and happy family. It sounds very simple, but only if I’m happy and satisfied, my family is. So I had to find something to do, just not to be “only” mum. I do volunteer jobs, give private lessons and tuitions and, yes, I did set goals, but they were less high and, as you said, my heart had to be in it. I realized that anything else would have been a waste of time (and energy!).
    Learning to let go. I think that’s the solution. We have to let go so many things in life. Learning to let go something that doesn’t make you happy seems easy, but if you still think it might make you happy, accomplished etc., it can take years.

    • Thank you. Letting go is hard, especially of the idea I need to be something other than a mother and wife to be successful. I am slowly getting more comfortable with my title. Only wish the pay was a lot better. 😉

  6. Know thyself. It sounds like you are trying find your comfort zone. If being goa.less – to quote you – works for you, then that is fine. I think our society places such a premium on accomplishment and striving that it is difficult to go off the path and accomplish in the way we want and what we want.

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