I’ve been a goal-setter most of my life. When I was a kid, I developed the habit of envisioning a future version of myself that was highly intelligent, ultra-disciplined, rich, heavily muscled, tan, and happy. I learned very early on that in order to achieve the life you want, you have to learn to set goals, break them down into actionable steps, and do the work to get where you want to go.
I learned to set goals.
I learned how to be miserable.
I’ve always associated goals with people who were going somewhere. People who are thriving and growing. Goals are for winners, so if you don’t set goals, you must be a loser. People without a goal must have given up on their dreams. People without goals must be depressed people who have lost motivation and settled for an average, or below average, ho-hum existence. Surely, if you don’t have goals you are actively pursuing, you must not be evolving as a person.
Associating goals with success and a lack of goals with stagnation is a false dichotomy. In fact, for me, letting go of the goal-setting paradigm over the past year or so, has resulted in more personal growth than all my decades of goal setting combined.
I still want things. I still want change. I still have a vision of the future for myself, my relationships, and my loved ones. I’m still working toward a better tomorrow. But I’ve found a way to make progress that doesn’t require me to sacrifice my current happiness for my future potential happiness. I can have both. So can you.
Letting go of goal-setting actually takes practice. It’s part of the language we’ve been taught. The word gets thrown around so much, we all just assume that goals are the way to go. Almost every success guru and motivational meme tells us so. We don’t question it. We take it on as an axiomatic truth of success principles. To succeed, one must have specific goals. Period.
We’ve been taught a lie. We get so wrapped up in living for the future, we’re sacrificing our present. I’ve got news for you. The present is all you have. The present moment is the only thing that’s real. You have right now. That’s it. So many of us are busy, stressed, indebted, tied down, restricted, trapped, duty-bound, depressed. We see ourselves in the future being happy and care-free, successful. But that future version of you can’t exist if you don’t start practicing now. If you want to be secure, content, rested, energetic, free, and happy, go ahead and start practicing that right now.
Am I suggesting you just give up on your dreams and learn to be satisfied with what you have, and that’s it? No
Am I suggesting you start living each day as if it’s your last- shirking responsibilities and living with reckless abandon? No.
I’m discovering a balance between working toward a better future, while remaining present and grateful (and deliriously happy).
It takes practice.
The above article gives you the strategy to becoming more present, grateful, confident, creative, contented, and happy while you work to better yourself and your future. But in case you missed it, be sure to get the book for step-by-step guidance.