100 Days Without Goal
have lived the last 100 days with no goals. And I have never been
happier or more content in my life.
When I met Leo four months ago — two-thousand miles from my home in
Dayton, Ohio — he said there were three things that significantly
changed his life: establishing habits he enjoyed, simplifying his life,
and living with no goals.
I was already living the first two: I had established my pleasurable
habits, I had simplified my life. But it was difficult for me to grasp
the “no goals” thing. The thought of living a life with no goals sounded
insane to me — it was counterintuitive, it was scary, it went against
almost everything I had ever learned about productivity.
In my corporate life of yesteryear, I managed hundreds of people for a
large corporation, an organization in which I was often considered
the productivity guy,
the goal guy: I met
deadlines, overproduced, exceeded expectations, got results. That’s why
they paid me the big bucks.
I regularly had umpteen goals in various stages of completion:
short-term goals, long-term goals, personal goals, business goals,
health goals, financial goals, vacation goals, consumer-purchasing
goals, you name it. I thought if I crossed enough goals off my to-do
list, I’d eventually be content. So I worked harder and harder, focusing
on every new goal with lapidary precision.
But I was stressed out of my mind with all those goals. My hauntingly
perpetual to-do list was just that — perpetual, never-ending. And it was
ever-growing. Plus, I was continuously disappointed when I didn’t
achieve a goal, or when I missed a deadline. Hell, I was even
disappointed when I attained a goal but didn’t overachieve. It was a
self-consuming cocaine high — it was never enough. I needed a way to
quit my goals cold turkey, so I did two things after speaking with Leo.
First, I asked myself, “why do
I have these goals?” I had goals so I could tell if I
was “accomplishing” what I was “supposed” to accomplish. If I met a
goal, I was allowed to be happy — right? Then I thought: Wait a minute,
why must I achieve a specific result towards an arbitrary goal to be
happy? Why don’t I just allow myself to be happy now?
Second, I decided to live with
no goals for a while. I didn’t know how long, because I
didn’t make it a goal. I figured I’d give it a shot for a month or so,
maybe longer, to see what happened. If it affected me negatively, I
could return to my rigid life of “achieving” and “producing results”
with my colour-coded spreadsheets containing scads of goals.
What happened? Breaking free from goals changed my life.
Three Ways Living with No Goals
Changed My Life
1. I am less stressed.
I have virtually no stress now. Sure, there are brief moments in which I
feel vexed or bothered — but I feel so much less stress these days.
People I’ve known for years comment on how calm I am. With no goals,
they say I’m a different person — a better person.
2. I am more productive.
I didn’t anticipate this one. I thought getting rid of goals meant I was
going to sacrifice results and productivity. But the opposite has been
true. I tossed productivity and became more productive. I’ve written the
best fiction of my life, I’ve watched our website’s readership increase
significantly, I’ve met remarkable new people, and I’ve been able to
contribute to other people like never before. The last 100 days have
been the most productive days of my life.
3. I am happier and more
content. During my 3 years on this earth, I’ve never
been this consistently happy or content. It is an incredible feeling,
even surreal at times. With the decreased stress and increased
productivity resulting from no goals, I am able to enjoy my life, I am
able to live in the moment. And thus I am appreciably happier and more
Three Misconceptions About No
Three arguments against the no-goal lifestyle presented themselves to me
in the last 100 days, all three of which I’d like to address.
1. Complacency: Doesn’t a life
with no goals make you complacent? Well, if by
“complacent” you mean “content,” then yes. But, otherwise, no it didn’t
make me complacent. In fact, the opposite was true: after removing the
stress from my life, I partook in new, exciting endeavours, while living
a passionate, meaningful life.
2. Growth: Doesn’t a life with
no goals prevent you from growing? No. I’ve grown
considerably in the last 100 days. I’ve gotten into the best shape of my
life, strengthened my personal relationships, established new
relationships, and written more than ever before. I’ve grown more in the
last 100 days than any other 100-day period in my life.
3. You still have goals: You
say you have no goals, but don’t you still have some goals, like
finishing your new novel or “being happy” or “living in the moment”?
It’s important to make a distinction here: yes, I want to “be happy” and
“live in the moment” and “live a healthy life,” but these are choices,
not goals. I choose to be happy. I choose to live in the moment. I
choose to live a healthy life. I don’t need to measure these events, I
simply live this way. As for my new novel, I intend to finish writing it
— I’ve never worked harder on anything in my life — but I’m enjoying the
process of writing it, and if I never finish, that’s okay too. I’m not
stressed about it anymore.
Living with no goals has changed my life. It has added layers of
happiness and contentment I didn’t realize were possible. It has allowed
me to contribute to other people in meaningful ways. I’m not going back
to a goal-oriented life. No goals. None at all. Life is outstanding