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No Goals for 2012

This is a picture my husband did just today of the garden shed at his parents farm in NE.  Love the light.  

I have been thinking a lot on an idea for the last few weeks. Trying to really create simple minimalist living. This time of year it seems to come from everywhere so it seemed a fitting time to think and write on it. It is the idea of giving up all goals.  Living with no goals.

I first found the idea of having no goals on The Minimalists’ site a few weeks ago (and then with a guest post on Zenhabits) and I was wanting to talk to them about it when they came through Omaha on their meet-up tour on Dec 22. I never got the chance because they hit a snowstorm and had to cancel, so I have just been playing with it in my head and bouncing stuff back and forth with my husband.

Goals are everywhere. They are the foundation of our society and taught to our young as soon as they start to talk. It is goals that drive, stress, and alow us to measure seemingly every aspect of our lives. We are evaluated, paid, worth measured by (self and others) based on if and how these goals are met. Goals can define how we spend our days, where or if we spend our money, and even who we choose to spend it with. They are quite powerful.

And truly, they help accomplish great things.

But what if there were no goals? At first this idea was scary to me. I like control, and goals create wonderful ‘walls’ that I can build my life inside of. Without goals wouldn’t I just be spiraling through space with no direction and nothing to catch or to catch me?

This seems like a very counter-cultural idea and, like I said, I have been thinking on this for a few weeks. So if this sounds crazy to you, that is ok. Just hear me out (and feel free to comment:)).
I am ready to try and live with no goals (or try, because my personality fights the idea). For all the good that goals bring they also mask reality. Goals are the part of my life that give me the feelings of:

  1. success or accomplishment if I meet them
  2. behind, late, not good enough if I don’t meet them

However, whether I meet goals I (or someone else) set for me, I do not change. I am still me. I can be working hard and miss a goal, or barely working and meet one. If you are anything like me, you understand the massive amount of emotional connection to meeting or not meeting goals. Emotions based on what? This masked reality?

Goals are also the enemy to living in the present. I thought I could try to balance both a) living in the present, and b)working toward goals set in the future, but they can’t live together.  With my personality and society’s encouragement it just comes out as a charade with future motives.

So going into this year I am going to live in the present, creating the habits I want my life to include day to day with no goals set for the future.  Because I have spent a bunch of time thinking on it and it always helps me to see examples, I thought I would share with you how I see it affecting my life and thinking.

Business

With our construction business we learned very early on that we didn’t want goals. From the beginning, when we went into business 4 1/2 years ago, we knew we didn’t want to have employees. In society and business it seems the rule to start, grow, run well, and sell a business. That is just how it is supposed to be done.  We never wanted this track because we didn’t want to be tied down to the schedule and commitment needed for that kind of growth. We want our businesses to work for us, and not the other way around. We work what we need to and not any more.  Since this has been our track we have also been very flexible.  We do work for ourselves, we do sub work for other contractors.  We do residential as well as commercial.  We have been very blessed and have (almost) always had work during the past 4 years that have been very hard for the construction business.  Doing the job right, honestly, making friends as well as trusting in God have allowed us to live and work this way.   We don’t have any goals with work.

Kids and Home Schooling

I have been trying to figure out how to properly prepare the for life and college for years. But since listening to Ken Robinson’s  talks last month (if you haven’t, it is so worth the time)  I have been struggling with what to do.  Instead of working on a goal that I can’t understand (what my kids will actually need to be prepared for in the future) and a goal I can’t control (cause, best as I try, I still can’t control my kids), I am going to work in the present on helping them develop their passions and develop a love of learning. Instead of spending their whole childhood teaching them to survive in the ‘real world’ I can be allowing them to teach me how to enjoy the present.

Money

I am going to work in the present to save what I can so that we can travel as a family later. This one is hard. I made up a year plan for money last fall after we got back from our summer road trip that was very aggressive as a way to measure when we could take off on the road again. We have gotten behind, but we are way closer than I thought we would be. To me that ‘goal’ is more of a measure, it is a way of bringing down to smaller steps where we need to be to be financially able to take off time from work again. There isn’t a goal for completion (there never really was because I didn’t think we could meet it when we set it up), but it helps mark the spot in the road where we want to be.  So, goal or no goal, I spend as little as possible and we know what we are working towards when we get there.

Self and Health

I want to keep making the habit of making my personal growth and health a priority in my day.

Relationally

In the ‘presents’ I am given each day I want to make the habit of taking the time to show others that they are valuable

Blog

I could easily try to have lots goals with this blog because I am having so much fun starting it up and I want to gain readership, but I don’t have all that much control. I can create the habit of generating good content, but the rest is largely out of my hands.  Goal driven in the above ways could easily have a negative affect on my blog and I don’t want that at all.  So, please just come and hang out with me and enjoy simple.  I have met some great people already and I am excited to meet more.

Eternal destiny is shaped in the present and not in reaching a goal either.

The more I think about this the more I see the life of Christ like this. He followed the Father and did what was given Him every day (or every minute), not worrying about a big picture or getting distracted by an end goal. He lived and worked in the present all through His life.

Living with goals seems to put ‘arriving’ or happiness always just out of reach.  I tell myself ‘when I reach this goal then….’ or ‘I just need to work and get this done and then….’ but goals overlap goals and the ‘then’ never comes.  What if the ‘then’ could be now, could be every day, every minute.

I often think of people who are given terminal diagnoses and are given months or maybe years to live.  The question always is ‘how would you live your life differently if you knew you only had (…. ) months, days or years to live?’  But this is silly.  Terminal diagnoses or not, we don’t know if we are going to last the next 30 seconds or not.  I want to live each moment intentionally without putting it off for the future.

Living without goals means I can be fully accomplished. I can be fully accomplished right now.  I can be right on time with my life instead of behind or ahead. And, really, right on time is all we ever can be with our lives.

Whats on your mind?

9 Comments

  1. I had never heard of Kevin Robinson! Thanks for sharing! No goals, I like the idea of that, but it might get confused that my goal is to have no goals, but then that’s a goal, too! I’m so goal oriented. I like it that when you have no goals, you are thinking more about the present, not so much living in an unrealistic future.

    • I meant KEN Robinson, sorry.

    • yep, I am the kind of person who would have a ‘goal’ of no goals. Just the idea is hard to wrap my mind around, but it is sinking in. I just need to bat it around my head for a while. I shared a few videos of Ken Robinson last month. They are linked if you click on his name in the post above. I really enjoyed them. I am about to start his book this month as well.

  2. It’s an interesting concept, you’ll have to keep us posted on your ‘no goals’ ambition. I’ve strived to reach goals my whole life. And, I enjoy it so much. I remember one so clearly from when I was around 7 “someday I just want to publish one book”. To me, it is something exciting to look forward too. Maybe more importantly, is to set goals that are attainable, so disappointment isn’t part of the cycle. I found your piece here very interesting and I will ponder it more.

    (yes, I did get that book published, plus quite a few more) with a ‘goal’ of a few more this year…but I’ll keep thinking about your goal thing. It requires a new mindset for sure 🙂 Thanks for sharing this idea.

    • yeah, I will try and update on it later, let me know what you come up with after thinking on it. I got it from ‘The Minimalists’ who have been publishing tons in the past year. I am excited to work on publishing several ideas soon (so we need to talk:)). Really wanting to be published and having fun working toward it is different than breaking it down into a bunch of goals, boxing it up, always feeling behind, and doing it even when you don’t feel like it. There are things we need to do in life that we don’t always want to do (…kitchen cleaning never ends), but I don’t want to box up my passions like that.

      I think it is an interesting concept that might often get confused in wording or how people define things. The ‘goal’ of no goals, for me is not making myself feel rushed or behind, but being excited with where I am and what I am doing in the present. Less conserned with the results (and how fast they are coming) down the road. Goals are deeply ingrained in the way I think… so it is a process. Maybe somewhere there is a happy balance for each person.

  3. […] especially on Jan 1 when everyone is exhausted from all the holiday, and I don’t like goals, but I did want to say a few words on health (and […]

  4. Lorliee, this is a first that I have ever commented twice on one post—anywhere. Here’s why. Your ideas you shared here mingled in my thoughts for a whole evening. When someone shares something that does that—challenges someone’s mind for longer than it took to read a piece of writing—then you’ve done well. I’m not necessarily joining you in the same mindset, but you shared something that that gave me something interesting to mull over for quite a while. And that doesn’t happen with everything I read. A nice piece you’ve written here, Lorilee.
    -heather

    • Yeah! That is the best compliment ever! Thanks.

  5. […] a few months ago on January 2 I posted about having no goals for this year.  I had read a bunch about the concept and it sounded good.  It sounded like it really simplified […]

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