Set Yourself Free, Get A Peace Of Mind And Have Fun

It seems to me that almost everyone I know – family members, co-workers, friends –  are talking about new year’s resolutions, setting goals for the next year, for the immediate future, for the next twenty months. Goals are important, essential tools that help us to structure our lives. That’s probably why almost everyone feels that they have to be setting up some concrete and achievable goals.

Almost everyone but me. I don’t set up goals. It doesn’t mean that I don’t like coming up with anything specific, achievable and meaningful. It simply means that I don’t like to be limited by pressure to perform.

Life takes over, and our plans get postponed. We get sidetracked. We all have our good days and our bad days. When I am having a bad day, I don’t want a feeling of guilt and discouragement to hang over my head because that day I did not stay focused on some particular goal.

I set myself free by deciding to not set any goals. I did not challenge any systems. I did not try to prove any points. I just simply looked for an alternative way to… succeed. While looking for this alternative, I liberated myself from a few things.

Liberation #1

Blogging. When I started blogging a while ago, I often would say to myself that in a month of blogging I need to have 10 RSS subscribers; in two months I wanted 20 subscribers; in three months I wanted 30.

I obsessively checked Feedburner almost every day and pulled my hair out when my RSS subscriber numbers were not just stagnant but appeared to be fluid.

One dark sleepless night I finally said to myself: “Aloysa, who cares if you increase your readership by 10 every month?” Honestly, no one cared but me. So why would I be putting so much pressure on myself?Instead of chasing numbers in the Feedburner, I decided to focus on my blog’s content.

This decision gave me peace of mind and helped me to create The Kitchen Sink. I finally could relax, get inspired and have fun.

Liberation #2

Staying Fit. A few years ago I told myself that I will be hitting a gym five times a week. When January came, I dragged myself to the gym twice a week. It was a total failure. I had a goal of working out five times a week. My twice a week workouts looked quite pathetic.

My motivation was disappearing slowly but steady. Every time I’d missed a day at the gym, I was full of guilt. I blamed myself for a lack of discipline, a lack of strong will, a lack of achievement.

During another dark sleepless night I realized that I needed to love myself a little bit more, and let myself to have some breathing room. After all, walking through the gym’s door should be considered as partial achievement.

Now, it doesn’t matter if I am at the gym once a week or five times a week. What matters is that I am there, enjoying myself and having a good time.

Liberation #3

Debt Payoff. This one was a tough one. My problem was shopping and spending more money than I actually should have. So… if only I could stop shopping. If only I could stop spending. If only I could stop breathing.

I did not have a lot of will power when it came to shopping. But I did want to pay off debt, and I knew that my shopping habits were slowing our debt reduction process. A lot of people can go months and months without shopping in order to cut unnecessary spending. I have huge respect and admire them for this. However,there was not a chance that I would be able to stay away from the mall for that long.

I let myself shop as much as I wanted with only one stipulation. I had to have cash. When the intensity of a shopping diet was gone, the need to shop and to spend was reduced as well. Probably, because I still was free to shop. Just in a more responsible way.

Having no goals doesn’t mean that you stop achieving things. It actually means that you will achieve more when you stop limiting yourself by setting goals, timeframes and deadlines.

Not having goals indeed feels liberating.

28 thoughts on “Set Yourself Free, Get A Peace Of Mind And Have Fun

  1. Niki

    This next year is the first year I actually wrote down goals for myself. I am not going to be too upset if I don’t reach the goals it is just that I should try to reach them. I get what you are saying, the pressure can be overwhelming.

    1. Aloysa

      The pressure usually discourages me. I start feeling guilty for not doing whatever I am supposed to be doing and as the result of it I don’t do it at all.

  2. Moneycone

    Awesome post Aloysa! That’s a great tip for obsessive compulsive shoppers – shop only if you have cash!

  3. Lindy Mint

    I don’t usually set goals either. Sometimes I’ll write down something I want to accomplish and tuck it away so my subconscious is aware of it. But I don’t give myself time lines or rules, because I usually break them and feel guilty.

    I think all of your examples hit it perfectly. If there is no motivation, you won’t change. Guilt makes change even harder. And setting goals that rely on the actions of others (ie: Feedburner) usually leads to focusing on the wrong things.

    Great post!

    1. Aloysa

      Exactly! All I need is to focus on the right thing and I can do it. But I take it slow and one day at a time. Works for me… so far.

  4. retirebyforty

    I haven’t set New Year resolutions for a long time because I know they don’t last. Every year I see a huge uptick in the number of people at the gym right after New Year. By Spring, the number usually goes back down to normal.
    For 2011 though, I will set a few long range goal and keep working on them a little at a time. Did you see Financial Samurai’s post about his 2010 goals? Those goals are super ambitious and he is doing really great on them.

  5. Everyday Tips

    I think different things work for different people. I am going to try and put my resolutions somewhere I can see them regularly instead of just dreaming them up in January and kicking them out the door by month’s end. There are a few things I have goals for, but I only set goals for things I can control.

    I know what you mean about feedburner, and that is why I don’t have any ‘exact’ blogging goals. I can’t control the numbers feedburner gives, they seem so arbitrary. But recently I did have the goal of getting new subscribers, so I changed my site to help my goal. (I added a reminder about my feed at the bottom of my post and I added a larger feedburner icon my site.) But if I attached a certain number to my goal, I would be constantly let down.

    1. Aloysa

      Feedburner is weird. Its numbers never stay the same. It can be really upsetting. Now, I barely look at it. I am focusing more on other stuff. So far it is more rewarding.

  6. Sandy @ yesiamcheap

    I don’t do resolutions either. I set life goals which I culled into a bucket list. I’m slowly checking things off but there’s too much pressure for annual goals. I can’t hang and feeling lie a giant failure sucks anyway.

    1. Aloysa

      I don’t even have a bucket list! Well, I do want to retire and not when I am 90 years old. I do want to travel and see as much as possible. But I don’t say that I have to go to Italy by the time I am 45 or something like this.

  7. eemusings

    I think I need to have goals. This was the first year of really doing them, and blogging about them helped me. I don’t like to set very high goals, lol, and if I exceed them that’s wicked. For me it’s about just staying on track and actually REMEMBERING what i wanted to achieve, otherwise I simply forget and get caught up in other random stuff. I had a vision/motivation board, but must admit it didn’t do much for me – it was really the blogging that did.

    I blog for ME. So I don’t have blogging goals and I don’t stress about readers and comments or anything. I have nothing against people who set up blogs with the goal of getting big and making money (and many Yakezies are) but that’s not why I started my blog.

    1. Aloysa

      Blogging for yourself is a good way to put all this blogging business in perspective. I enjoy writing. I have fun blogging. It started as a hobby and now it is growing into someting else. I cannot even define it. LOL It is great.

  8. LifeAndMyFinances

    Aloysa, it is true, goals that are missed make us feel lowsy. But, that’s the great part about goals! They cause us to focus and perform better than we would have if we had no goals at all! Currently, I have a goal of 50 Feedburner subscribers by February. It’s been about 4 days since I’ve set that goal, and I’m no closer now than what I was 4 days ago! Now I know I have to do something different.

    If I don’t hit my goal by the end of February, I will feel somewhat defeated, but then I’ll just try to hit that goal by the end of March. We can’t linger on missing those goals. They are just guides so that we continue to achieve! I just can’t get enough of them! I know, I’m a nerd.

    1. Aloysa

      I look at things quite differently now. I enjoy wirting and talking to people. I love commenting, participating in projects, carnivals and guest posts. It gives me great satisfaction.

      Why did you choose 50 as your number? Why is it a good number for you? What does it mean to you? I am interested to know why 50 and not 100? Why not 30?

  9. Jim

    I do number 1 all the time. And get more and more depressed as the number fails to move about 15. Agree that goals are good, but there needs to be some flexibility in them. Don’t be too disapointed if you don’t get there.

  10. Jessica07

    Conversely, I work better under self-directed pressure. For example, when I decide to lose weight, I usually go out and buy the most expensive pair of jeans I can find in the size lower than the one I have on when I’m shopping. To me, it’s not a waste of money, because I know I’ll do whatever it takes to reach my goal once I’ve already invested in it.

    I think the most important part is to know YOU, and to understand what it takes to make yourself do what you need to. For you, it’s allowing options. When you don’t need to, you can relax and just do it.

    1. Aloysa

      LOL I don’t know if I’d dare to buy jeans that don’t fit now but might fit in the future. But as you said I just know myself and what I need to do to get me where I need to be. But it is a good move! I am glad it works for you.

  11. Romeo

    Hi, Aloysa. While not having goals may be liberating indeed, the lack of goals can and will cause failure all the time. In other words, how can we assess whether we’ve succeeding in something without a measurable reference? I think that it is more important to set reasonable and reachable goals. These are obtainable by setting the bar extremely low. And when we go beyond our extremely low goals, we’ll feel excited and gather our liberation from that. Have a happy holiday season.


    1. Aloysa

      The idea of having goals, setting them up, measuring our achievements is engraved in us very deeply. We need goals because this is what we were taught. It is expected of us. However, not having goals is liberating because we are not limiting ourselves by them. We still can perform, achieve and be happy with our results. In fact, the possibilities are limitless without having goals. Who defines measurements we are supposed to measure up to? How do we know these measurements are good for us? What is good for you might be unachievable for me. And vice versa…

  12. Buck

    Awesome post. Interesting way of looking at things, no pressure, better performance. Works for me. However, I still believe goal setting is a valuable tool in life. Perhaps a happy medium would be setting a pressure free target? No exactly sure what word to use, but if you didn’t have a goal like blogging, going to the gym, or paying off your debt, where would you be?

  13. First Gen American

    I think it’s natural to obsess about readership in the beginning. I realize now that whether an article goes viral is often kind of random and unexpected and I don’t always have control, so now I’m picking the slow and steady approach. Eventually I’ll have more people reading.

    I like your non-goals.

    1. Aloysa

      I noticed that more time passes with blogging, less obsessed I am with daily traffic and more focused on content. It is all relative, I guess.

  14. Deidre

    I’m with you all the way. I do not set resolutions either, I just do something new each January to bring in a new focus to the year.

    Strangely, I like to clean in Jan/Feb. Clean out the old for the new to come in
    We all set goals in different ways and it looks like you have found a way to move forward without pressuring yourself – a wonderful thing to have learned. Good for you!


    1. Aloysa

      I do get a very strong urge to clean right before the end of the year. It is odd how the end of the year brings this sense of changes.

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