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…