No Goals

by Charlie D. Harper on March 15, 2013

I’ve read several authors who champion life without goals. The most notable for me are Leo Babauta and Joshua Fields Milburn. They declare that removing goals takes away stress and performance anxiety. It allows them to do only what they enjoy and be productive in the process.

It’s not working for me.

I decided to try the “no goals” path in 2013 to see where it would take me.

It’s taken me to aimlessness, lack of focus, and a sense of overwhelm at not being able to address all the things that interest me.
We’re 10 weeks in and I feel like the year is slipping away with little to show for it.

I could argue that I’ve gotten a lot done. At work I’ve migrated 21 web sites to a new platform and built 4 new ones. At home I’ve written and submitted an article for publication by Wooden Boat magazine, almost finished re-flooring my basement, and learned to juggle 4 balls.

That’s a lot of productivity, but it doesn’t feel good. It feels diffuse, amorphous, and lacking in meaning. My natural inclination is to try to do everything. Goals give me effective limits and encourage me to do less. While doing less is a difficult decision for me, it forces me to curate and only do what I most value.

In 2012 I learned enough Arabic to get along for two weeks in the Middle East, finished building my boat, shrank my waistline 3″, and took my family to Disney World and Montreal. Each of these things were intertwined with goals, stated and pursued. As a result I’m pretty sure 2012 was the greatest year of my life so far.

I’m not sure how to top that. I’m not convinced I need to, but 2013 feels lost by contrast.

So…on the Ides of March I’m committing to return to goals for the balance of 2013.

In two weeks I’ll roll out my goals for the remaining 75% of 2013 (the irony of launching a project on April Fools day is not lost on me).

I truly don’t know what the new goals will be, but I get butterflies in my stomach at the prospect of setting the bar again.

I’ll be back in two weeks…see you then!


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

NicoleJohnsJeffries March 15, 2013 at 9:08 am

I love this post! I, too, cannot imagine a moment without setting goals. It sets a path to move forward, and the thought of running around without direction makes me feel well… a little lost.. Every year I set the bar fairly high, I suppose and at the end of the year I check back to see how I did. There is a great satisfaction in knowing you have set out to do exactly what you want, or better. Good luck to you with your new adventures/goals ahead. Can’t wait to see what you come up with 🙂


charliedharper March 15, 2013 at 11:08 pm

@NicoleJohnsJeffries Thanks for the good wishes. I think you’re right about setting the bar high.  It can be scary, but that’s the only way you grow.


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