I have been an avid follower of Leo Babauta’s blog, Zen Habits, for many years now. In fact, Zen Habits was one of the major inspirations behind me starting my own blog. If you’ve never read Zen Habits I encourage you to check it out. Leo encourages simple living, mindfulness, and having no goals. Yeah, you read that last one right. Leo Babauta says you should live life without goals.
When I first read some of Leo’s posts about no goals I almost immediately decided that “no goals” was a terrible idea. I believe the word that came to mind was “bullshit“. I loved everything else about Zen Habits but having no goals seemed to go against everything I have ever read anywhere. Everybody says you should set goals, but Leo didn’t even want me to have a to do list! This made no sense. How do you get anything done without goals or lists? I disregarded the whole idea until just recently when I realized that was exactly what I’ve been doing for most of this year. I wasn’t aware of it at first. I was just doing things that made me feel good and seeing what happens. I have to admit too, just like Leo said, I have never been happier or more productive.
I started out just wanting do have something to do outside of my day job. My work is often boring and repetitive but also very time consuming. I am thoroughly burned out on it but I’m not in a position to leave so I thought maybe some new hobbies would liven up my days.
I started by writing 750 words a day. That was nice and it helped wake up the brains cells but after awhile I realized there was no opportunity for feedback and improvement because no one could read what I had written. So then I came here to WordPress to set up this here blog. It has been an incredible experience so far and I know I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of what can happen through blogging. I come here everyday and do my best to express myself and also connect with new people. The thing is, I have no goal for this blog.
Yeah it’s nice to get more views and followers, but the real reward is hearing from my readers and improving my writing. Those aren’t measurable goals and there is no one way to get there. All I do is follow certain principles and I move along the path without even meaning to. I went back yesterday and re-read Leo’s posts about no goals and I found his list of “Tips for Living Without Goals“. They are:
- Start Small.
- Not Just Work.
- Let Go of Plans
- Don’t Worry About Mistakes.
- It’s All Good.
I encourage you to head over there and read more about each item yourself, but the overall idea seems to be just do what feels good and you will end up somewhere. He uses the analogy of taking a walk with out a destination in mind. Not having a destination does not mean you do not walk. It means you go out and do things and enjoy the journey. You get up, you make things, you write stuff, you do what you love doing and see what happens. If you follow that path you cannot help but to end up in a place of happiness. With goals you predetermine the path and the destination and you may just miss out on something more beautiful because your focus and passion were in the wrong place.
I mentioned before that I follow a certain set of principles everyday and that has helped me to achieve more and grow without really setting out to do so. Leo also mentions this idea in another post on “Achieving Without Goals“. His 4 principles are:
- Love what you do.
- Help Others.
- Build Relationships and Trust.
- Be Curious.
By keeping these simple principles in mind and doing things that fit in with your principles rather than what moves you toward your goals you go on achieving and you may even surprise yourself. I have noticed that everything I achieve without goals is all the sweeter because it happened without me having to try so hard. It almost feels like I have earned it more because it feels so natural. I have a few more principles to add to Leo’s list. Most of them I have collected from Crystal Moody’s blog Year of Creative Habits and Austin Kleons book “Steal Like an Artist“.
- Stay Creative.
- Share Your Work With People.
- Try New Things.
These may sound like goals on the surface but the difference is there is no real plan or path and there are no measurable results. I just wake up everyday and try to do things that I love and that fit in with these principles. I still have lists but I do not stress about them. They are more like reminders than to-do lists. In addition to writing and posting here on this blog I am also taking small steps everyday to use my hands and make things. I hope to share that with all of you too very soon. I’m making time to read other blogs and connect with others. I want to read more, I want to learn more. I want to start traveling and seeing new places. I want to do these things because I have realized these are the things I love. These are the things that make me feel good! I look forward to the destination but the journey is the both surprising and beautiful.
I encourage all of you to try living without goals and see what happens. I’d also like to know what you all think? Goals or no goals? What principles do you apply to everything you do? Let me know in the comments :)