A couple of years ago I realized I could probably accomplish more of what I wanted to do if I would stop making goals. I haven’t made goals since (though I flirted with the idea for one day last November, then decided against it). And I was right. I’ve done more of what I truly wanted over the past two years than I ever did when I was making goals and resolutions.
Why I Don’t Think Goal-Making is All That Great
I was raised to be a goal-maker. I started goal-setting at a very early age and it was a systematic part of my life until the past two years. Here are the reasons why I’ve gone goal-less…
Passions Propel Us. Goals Do Not.
If you simply spend time doing the things you naturally love and have a passion for, you rarely need to try to get yourself to do them. Just start doing them and then your passion will move you along. And by the way, I also believe that we best serve the world when we do things we truly are most passionate about — not the things that others get us to think we should do.
The Sitting Position is a Poor Position for Determining What You Should Do with Your Life
I don’t know how many hours of my life has been in the sitting position with a pen and paper in hand while I decided what I wanted to do over the next three months or year or five years. Like most people, I’ve accomplished a very small percentage of those goals I spent so much time planning and writing down. On the other hand I have accomplished much of what I’ve wanted from my life simply because I do what I’m interested in without having to make lists about it. I would die happy and fulfilled today if my time came.
My best triumphs, accomplishments, and ideas happened because I was doing what I loved. Opportunities surface unplanned. Below are the three things that will make you the best person you can be. They’ll bring you the best ideas and the best opportunities for growth…
- Do what you’re passionate about. You must spend time doing and living your passions for any truly worthwhile progress or activity to come to you. This usually means walking away from other things that seem (especially to everyone else) like good ideas, but don’t necessarily stir your soul.
- Learn. Learn about your field of interest (for example, scrapbooking), but also learn about related interests and even non-related interests. So many of my most helpful insights on one subject come when I’m learning about something else. Be a constant learner.
- Associate with other active people. Opportunities come from working with others.
You can’t sit down on January first and plan for opportunities to come your way. They will come randomly and spontaneously if you know what you want from your life and if you’re doing, learning, and associating with others. The only exception to this is when you have specific actions you need to accomplish in time for a legitimate and compelling deadline. The new year is not one of those.
The Arbitrariness of a Year
We make goals at the new year because it’s a motivating time period — at the start of it. The problem is that the end of the year deadline is arbitrary when it comes to your actual goals. Your goal doesn’t have to be accomplished by Dec. 31 for any reason other than that you said so. This isn’t compelling enough for most of us. Dec. 31 is forever away, so it seems very doable — until October or November swings around, that is. And then the following year suddenly seems more appropriate for the accomplishment of that goal. Am I wrong?
The end result is procrastination and disappointment in self. Every year we make goals and resolutions, we set ourselves up for failure when in reality, you could more easily be having lots of successes. Here’s how…
Choose Instead to Focus
I had an amazing year in 2009. When 2010 approached I just wanted more of the same but with the previous year’s experience and learning. I dove back into the waters of everything I loved and didn’t need to over plan by writing goals. 2010 was a fantastic year — packed with accomplishment!
When November 2010 (last month) came around and I started thinking about the upcoming year, I was ready for a more fine-tuned focus in just a few areas. I wrote down all of those areas in my journal (and have come up with one or two more since then).
Here are those areas:
- Be present. Live in the moment.
- Give love — be more available with my love for my main people (close friends and family), and remember love and empathy for all living beings. A lyric from Trevor Hall’s song, Unity, is one of my favorites: “Love all, serve all, and create no sorrow.“
- Live sustainably. Be more of a minimalist.
- Practice Zen.
- My story — connect with my own story through writing, art, photography, and the things I surround myself with in my home.
Have you been wondering about that picture with the flower at the top of the page? I’m finally getting to it.
After brainstorming my focus areas, I came up with an image — a symbol that represents all of those areas for me. It’s the lotus flower. In my mind, it encompasses everything I want to focus on for the next phase of my life.
(I say phase because I started this new focus in November and while I imagine it might continue until next November, I might carry it to January 2011, or I may feel a need to change it midway through this year. Again — I believe in going with the flow of life and its real needs instead of arbitrary restrictions that may have no true relative meaning to me.)
For the next while I am experimenting with different representations of the lotus flower. I made the one at the top with Copic Markers –it was my first attempt at making something with those markers. I’m going to practice some more and I hope to add the lotus flower into a collage. In my journal I sketched some that are more similar to lotus flowers common in Hindu art.
One Little Word: Connect
I wasn’t sure if I would join Ali Edwards in choosing a single word to focus on for the year. I’ve done it both successfully and unsuccessfully in the past. Last year I chose to go without a word. After I brainstormed my focus areas in my journal, a word surfaced that seemed to encompass all of the areas.
Since November I have been meditating for just a few minutes almost every day. My meditation lasts only as long as I take to chant (in my mind) my word and my focus areas. This is my chant…
Connect with my people — family and friends.
Connect with Earth. Live sustainably. Love all, serve all, and create no sorrow.
Connect with now. Be present. Be mindful.
Connect with my story. Express through writing and art.
I have a lot of project ideas that I’m envisioning over the coming months that will help me with my focus. They’re not goals. They’re possibilities. I’ll do some of them while others will move out of the way for ideas and opportunities I don’t yet know about. It’s all about going with the flow — the ebb and flow that goal-setting in January can never predict. If you have a focus and you’re living your passions, you can ensure that the flow that carries you is a good one.
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Looking for Scrapbooking Ideas?
I’ve been posting scrapbook projects every day this week!
Next week we’ll release a new Paperclipping Video Tutorial for our members. Make sure you have your membership in time! We’ll also resume our regular Roundtable and Digi Shows!