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.
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.
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.
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.