I have a love/hate relationship with goals. Goals are good because they orient you towards something, pushing you to achieve it. On the flipside, goals are bad because, by definition, they haven't been met, therefore they make you feel inadequate and incomplete. You find yourself future projecting, imagining some ideal future scenario where you'll be happy because you'll be "complete," having met your goals.
Except this day never arrives. You'll just get new goals. You're perpetually chasing something, never reaching it.
Here's a list of goals that I had previously set out for myself:
I failed in all of these things, and spent a lot of time making myself unhappy because I hadn't met my own internal success conditions. Goals by definition create binary outcomes: success and failure, polarizing the breadth of life into these two narrow categories.
Instead, I've started to shift towards a new paradigm advocated by Leo Babauta - achieving without goals. Instead of goals, I now have areas of focus. So instead of writing in order to achieve some specific level of literary success, I write because I like to write. If I write every day, and focus only on the next immediate step, eventually I'll have a completed novel (this is how I wrote my book, taking it one day at a time, focusing on the moment to moment process as mindfully as possible).
I've gotten a lot of value from balancing out my Western success-oriented mindset with the Eastern concept of mindfulness and staying present to the moment, and I think you can too.
people I admire
Bret Easton Ellis