My definition of a driver is simply that which inspires and drives one to move forward, to go after something, to achieve, to accomplish and to succeed. Most of us have called these drivers ‘goals’ over the years. A goal is that golden dream, the plump carrot, which when achieved will mean we have made finally it. My question to you is: What would your life be like if you lived goal-free?
I am NOT saying that a vision is not a worthwhile endeavor, what I am saying is that rigid goals that literally define our days are perhaps not the be all and end all we once believed. It all depends on you, your life endeavors and your needs and values. Let me explain. For people who have a need to accomplish; goals and reaching goals are a source of reward, fulfillment and empowerment. However for people who value maximizing; their fulfillment comes from going deeper and experiencing all the various aspects of a particular endeavor.
I believe the key here is to be spontaneous AFTER having some very reflective time around where you want your life to go and how you want it to be lived. What brings you joy, what are your responsibilities, your purpose and how do you want to want to remembered? Once you have some insight on these questions, then lay out a vision and some realistic measurements along the way, but don’t be so tied to those measurements that you can’t stop and smell the roses or become unwilling to change directions and experiment with life. It seems the most fulfilled people are those who are able to be more spontaneous and less ‘controlled’.
A personal experience I had not too long ago was that I set a dollar-figure goal for my business. All at once with that as my focus, my business income began spiraling downhill. Wait I thought….this is not suppose to happen! What’s wrong? Nothing will make one change directions like money, will it? Well when I changed my focus to giving more value rather than bringing in dollars …..the direction changed and business was booming again!
What is a goal anyway? Most people’s goals aren’t there own. They have been set by society or a marketing plan. Or perhaps a family member, teacher, or coach planted an idea in a little mind early in life, about their potential (either positive or negative). I fully believe our lives are what we make them and yet we need to decide for ourselves what that life will look like. Then be willing to experiment to see what really does bring fulfillment.
Years ago when microwaves first came on the mass market (many of you may not even remember life without microwaves) my husband planned to give me one for my birthday. I opted for a piano instead. You see as a kid, I always wanted to play the piano and yet my family couldn’t at the time afford the piano or the lessons. It was dream I was still holding onto. Actually it was also something I felt I had been cheated out of. So I got the piano and I took lessons and it was SO HARD. I had to make myself practice and it wasn’t fun! A couple of years later, I was very involved in building our new home and I told my husband: “I’m going to sell the piano; there isn’t room in it for the new house.” He shook his head in disbelief, and rightly so, since the new home was twice the size of the old one. The truth was the goal to be a great piano player was no longer a goal. It wasn’t important enough for me to do what it took in order to become good at it! I had long since gotten the microwave anyway and actually went on to found and operate a gourmet shop which I loved so much I was willing to work very long hours in order to make it the success I wanted it to be.
Goal-free living isn’t about being aimless; it’s about being passion-driven in the moment and willing to make adjustments and course corrections when needed. It’s about thinking, planning, asking your inner self for guidance, doing your homework, tapping into your joy center and then following that center to your happiness. It’s about not being afraid to fail and fail quickly; it about being okay with changing your mind if that is what your guidance is telling you to do.
My son recently went into real estate. He studied, he passed his exam on the first try, he planned, he visualized, he prayed, and he hooked up with who he thought were the right people, brokers, and agents from the beginning. After about a year, he realized, I am not happy; this is not the way I want to spend the rest of my life or even the next 5 years. Yes, I will keep my license active but this is will not be my life’s career.
I do a lot of work with people who want to reach their full potential. My question is: What is your full potential? What does it or will it look like? What will be different when you get there and how will you know you’re ‘there’? Mountain climbers have something called the false summit, when they get to what they think is the peak and then they realize they’re only at the bottom of an even bigger mountain. Sometimes this is what happens with goals.
Perhaps we all need to redefine our perception of goals. Do they support us or undermine us? Above all, trash the idea that if you’re not a millionaire by age 40, you’re a failure! I’m probably going to be doing what I’m doing until I’m dead because I love it; but if and when I don’t love it, I hope I’ll have the courage to find something I do love. I’ve given a lot of thought to when I will retire, where I will retire, how I will retire and will I have enough money to retire and still take care of myself. I certainly hope so whether or not I ever reach millionaire status; and yet, what is more important is that I am enjoying each and every day and leaving the world in a better place than I found it. And that I think is a worthwhile goal.
If this topic interests you, you might want to read Stephen Shapiro’s new book, Goal-Free Living.