This post is for all the google searchers who find my blog looking for ‘I don’t have a life goal’ or something similar. I don’t like writing ‘how-to’ posts – who am I to tell you how to live your life? But it seems I have struck a chord with the interwebs, so here’s my secret:
I don’t think you need goals.
I’m lousy at setting goals. They never seem big enough, or shiny enough. Or I find they aren’t what I wanted anyway. Every time I’ve done a big goal setting exercise (and Chris Guillebeau has the biggest, shiniest goal-setting plan I’ve ever seen) I got stuck. Or ended up with a list of goals that weren’t really me.
Last year was the deal breaker. I started the year with (I thought) an awesome list of goals: more climbing! new job! trip to Africa! more bellydance! Instead I ended up with the same job (but restructured), a course of formal study, a trip to New Zealand and a new baby. It was a much bigger year than I ever imagined.
Which lead me to a few conclusions:
- the universe has bigger things in store for me than I can dream by myself.
- all planning is science fiction. You base your goals on how you imagine the future, but it’s only guess.
- it’s the opportunities and adventures you didn’t plan for that make life really awesome.
The trick is to let all this unplanned awesomeness into your life.
The first part is knowing what awesome means to you. This means identifying your values, what’s important to you, so you can recognise an opportunity when it pops up. It’s no good taking on someone else’s adventure – you’ll end up bored, seasick, or worse. This is why I like dream boarding so much. It’s not about setting goals, for me, but clarifying what I value.
My values? Learning and curiosity, kindness and generosity, connection, wildness and beauty.
The second part is commitment. Whatever you are doing, put your whole self in. People only offer you awesome jobs when they see you working your butt off. An opportunity to audition (for a dance troupe, MasterChef, slam poetry) is the biggest adventure only if you’ve been practicing your heart out.
Ryan is a champion at this. I don’t think he’s ever had a career plan, but he works hard, and opportunities come to him. If they look interesting, he takes them. Looking back, he’s got this kick-ass career progression just like stepping stones… but really there was no plan, just one opportunity at a time.
Of course, some times you have to do stuff you’d rather not commit to. Housework, anyone? But I value having a beautiful home, and being able to invite others to share it. Amazing opportunities to connect often arise this way, too. And I can commit to doing it in the least possible time, to allow more time for other adventures…
So no goals. Not for me. Just a set of values that take me interesting places, and a commitment to those values that leaves space open for adventures.