This past weekend, I was asked (somewhat incredulously) by a trusted confidant how I can have no goals in life. He knows me well and has heard my occasional morsel, dropped offhandedly here and there, about how I intentionally don’t make goals. I was startled that he had paid attention to my casual asides and for the first time in my life, I felt that I needed to get out of my head and defend myself out loud for why I held this belief. My mind began to churn as I rallied my reasons for living this way and I answered him. Probably not this eloquently, but along a similar vein:
What started out as a childhood wound from feeling let down when I did not get the things I wanted or achieve the outcomes I desired, has shifted. Something that began from a place of anger and disappointment has evolved into a purposeful and calm meditation on how I choose to live this life. I live more fully in the present by not being so fixated on the future.
Simply put, I live each day by showing up. I conscientiously live a life designed around the mentality that if my eulogy was given tomorrow, what would I hope people would say about me? This is the reason I volunteer every Tuesday. It is also the reason friends know they can call me at the last minute to watch their babies and I will come to their house, gratis, to make sure they’re able to attend that forgotten meeting or date night. It’s probably why I feel kindness and giving 110% of myself trumps being perceived as a spineless doormat. It’s why I will never be so focused on getting married (though I would like to be) that I desperately hold onto the wrong person for all the “right” expectations of my American society. Finally, it’s the reason that though I would love to be a mother, I know that being fixated on having my own biological baby might mean that I might miss out on mothering an orphan that needs me (us?) someday.
Last fall I read a wonderful book titled, “The Well-Fed Writer.” In it, the author Peter Bowerman recounts a typical script between a salaried person and a self-employed person. “Salaried guy asks, ‘How can you stand not knowing what you’re going to make every month?’ Self-employed guy: ‘How can you stand knowing what you’re going to make?’ Amen to that.”
That brilliant exchange reminds me of my having-no-goals lifestyle. When I think of a fixed goal and the steps needed to achieve said goal, I think of the lack of tangential, more fruitful, and much-needed wanderings I could miss out on in pursuit of this “eye on the prize” mentality. I posit that goals can be limiting and having no goals is liberating. Leo Babauta, at Zen Habits, supports my claim.
I am sure at this point your mind is doing cartwheels as you formulate a rebuttal to this line of thinking. Good for you; I am glad I have piqued your interest.