I have been living with the classical goal-setting mind. I love dreamy high goals. They motivate me and give me energy to go beyond my limits. I have always believed that if you don’t know where you are going – how will you get anywhere at all? Like the Alice in Wonderland moment:
One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. ”Which road do I take?” she asked. ”Where do you want to go?” was his response. ”I don’t know,” Alice answered. ”Then,” said the cat, ”it doesn’t matter.”
How can you achieve or perform anything without goals?
What if it depends on what you want to achieve?
This is a good example: Imagine you are having a conversation with a friend. You flow through different subjects and end up in amazing discussions exploring new ideas. What if you’d had a goal with the conversation? I would probably not be a very long conversation. If you have an agenda and have to force yourself to stay on track instead of wandering, it might be a straight boring path.
What if goals are limiting you from doing better and being happier? What if it just makes you more stressed? Having a set outcome might be confining. Being on a set path might make you less creative and passionate. And if you fail to reach your goal you might feel really bad. In fact, just the thought of possible failure might haunt you on the way to your goal.
A big problem with having a goal is that you might push your happiness forward. Thinking you will only be happy when you reach your goal. Goals might just keep you focused on the future, instead of the present. You might miss a lot of things going on right now, because your mind is set forward.
Also there is a danger with long-term-goals. They are fixed, but you are not. People change. What if you are on a 5-year goal-plan, and realise after 2 years you don’t really want to reach your 5-year goal, but another one? Do you force yourself to do 3 more years of the-wrong-thing?
At first I was sceptical to this. Its normal. When you hear about something ‘new’ for the first time that just doesn’t fit with your view of the world – you will dislike it. You will be sceptical. You might dismiss and reject it from then on, having made up your mind. Or you might be open minded and give it a try.
Fist time I read about the no-goal-philosophy I was sceptical. But is has not left my mind. I have been thinking about it during freediving. As I set my goal to freedive to 102 meters and take a world record that seems the ultimate goal. I was prepared to really fight and give everything to get there. But what if I’d set my goal to 110 meters? Maybe reaching 100m would have been easier. Or what if I’d had no goal with depth at all? I would just have freedived because I loved it so much and fed of the passion – and maybe reached much deeper.
The other day when I went to the gym, I tried a goal less workout. I didn’t have any goal with the session, which I usually always do. Instead I just went around to different weights and machines and totally enjoyed myself. I had the best and most fun workout in a long time! Not having goals take away structure, but it lives of flexibility, passion and happiness?? I might explore this further..
Great post! Setting goals based on experience, rather then reaching a result, sounds like a way for long-lasting happiness rather then happiness just when the result is achieved. :)
Perhaps you should try to explore what, in your mind, distinguishes 101.99 meters from 102 meters. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to perceive any difference so I’m thinking that maybe the depth itself isn’t what you are trying to experience?
Really interesting thoughts. We feed our children the importance with goals all the time, but if… I find it far more enjoyable to live in the present, to do my very best in each moment. To be continued. Thanks Annelie!
Very good discussion points and there is no definite ”best approach”. Some people (not me!) might enjoy pushing their happiness forward and get a different kind of satisfaction from tracking their progress toward that happiness