Why #nogoals is the new #goals
Kill your goals. No, I don’t mean smash them or nail them. I mean get rid of them. Stop creating them in your head, stop writing them down, stop figuring out next actions. Let them go. This is a proposition I’m coming across more and more in productivity circles. A knee jerk response to professional and digital overwhelm? Perhaps. But an increasing number of people are choosing to live a life without goals. Here’s why.
We know new year’s resolutions rarely work
Many of us are already jaded by the idea of new year’s resolutions, a deeper, part of us knows they don’t really work. We decide to make changes when we review the previous year with mild panic and regret over all those things we didn’t make happen. We scramble to put plans in place for the next year to make ourselves feel better for what we didn’t achieve. The problem is, back in the churn of day to day working life our motivation dries up. Life gets in the way, and after a month or so we’re no longer inspired. Sound familiar?
Do goals really work anyway?
Leo Babauta of Zen Habits is pro #nogoals. He likens it to chatting with a good friend you haven’t hung out with for a while. The conversation meanders, it twists and turns, takes exciting new directions, you discover things about each other you didn’t know, there’s a natural, spontaneous richness to your time together. Now imagine the same scenario, but instead have a set topic in mind that you want to talk about, that you keep artificially steering the conversation back to, that you doggedly hold on to at all costs and avoid getting sidetracked. Yes you might talk in depth about that one topic, but what have you missed out on as a result? Could rigidly setting goals be having the same impact on the richness of our lives? Maybe. But if like me, the thought of wiping out goals quite frankly freaks you the hell out, there’s a good half way house:
Looking at goals as an end point where we will have happiness and a sense of lasting achievement is short sighted. The pleasure of achievement is short lived, and even if we do hit a particular goal or milestone, once we do, we tend to give up and sometimes even lose ground again - particularly with fitness based goals. Instead we could look to focus more on the process of the goal itself rather than the end point. This would be the difference between a poorly designed, non specific goal ‘lose weight’, a slightly better SMART goal ‘lose 5kilos of body fat by May 1st’, and a simple process goal ‘run 3x a week for 30mins’. The latter allows the flexibility to adjust as we go along, focuses on building the habit for ongoing success, rather than fixating on the outcome.
For me this makes much more sense. It aligns with living in the now, in the present, and it aligns with the possibility that our desires and interests may change and need to be re-evaluated over time. Focusing on the process, establishing the habit that builds ongoing success, is not only more realistic and sustainable, it’s also more gratifying as you don’t have to wait three months to get a sense of achievement. Each time you hit your process goal, you get a drip feed of reward and encouragement.
So will you be joining the #nogoals squad? The jury’s out for me, but focusing on the process and living in the now is certainly where I want to be, and that may just be one goal worth keeping.
This article was written by James Rafael, Warrior Addict Brand Warrior, Yoga teacher & writer www.jamesrafael.com
We would like to give credit to cheapgenius, mo-issa and allworths for the images used in this article.