Goal Free Living
August 2006 – Goal Free Living
by Lisa Guyman
Goal Free Living
I came across the book Goal Free Living, by Stephen Shapiro and really enjoyed the author’s fresh perspective and sense of adventure. We are such a goal-oriented culture and although goals can provide impetus for us there are some pitfalls to being too focused on outcomes.
Ultimately, we seek goals because we believe that by achieving them we will feel a certain way (happy, whole, accomplished, etc). So it isn’t the goal that we are necessarily seeking, but what we think it will offer us and how we think we’ll feel when we reach our goal. So while it’s beneficial to have a vision for our lives it’s important to enjoy our lives now, just as they are. We don’t want to miss the present by always looking ahead. What follows is Stephen Shapiro’s “eight secrets for goal free living:”
Use a Compass, Not a Map. Find your passions through your experiences, your skills and your values. Use these as the compass for choosing a direction to take in life, without defining a specific destination. Avoid mapping out your life. Instead allow your life to take twists and turns and to evolve over time. Live in the moment while creating many paths of possibilities.
Trust That You are Never Lost. There are no right or wrong decisions in life. Just decisions. And there are no failures in life, only opportunities for growth. Taking a detour is not bad. Very seemingly a wrong turn is a chance to learn and have new experiences.
Remember That Opportunity Knocks Often, But Sometimes Softly. Constantly watch for new opportunities that present themselves in unexpected ways. Keep your mind clear of clutter, expand your focus and allow subtle messages to appear. Some of the best opportunities appear in unlikely places. On the road of life, be on the lookout for hidden signposts as well as those that are right there in front of you.
Want What You Have. Have a deep appreciation of where and who you are today. Rather than yearning for more out of your life, cherish the moment. Enjoy the view that life has given you, whether it’s an ocean view or a parking lot view. When you measure your life by your own yardstick, you realize what really matters to you.
Seek Out Adventure. People who live extraordinary lives tend to have a wide range of experiences. When possible they travel to new locations, rotate jobs, try new hobbies, and think like explorers. Diverse experiences can enrich your view of the world. While you certainly don’t need to travel the world, you can approach your life as an adventure, every day.
Become a People Magnet. Constantly attract, build and nurture relations with new people so that you have the support and camaraderie of others. Meet new people and take responsibility for the next steps after the connection is made.
Embrace Your Limits. We are all human. As such we have a shadow side that we try to hide from the rest of the world. Rather than fighting, avoiding or denying these limits, embrace them as a source of power. Realize that they are a part of you. Look at them as attributes rather than deficits. When you do, your inadequacies no longer control you; they connect you with the rest of us.
Remain Detached. One characteristic that distinguishes a traditional goal from an aspiration or path is detachment. With a traditional goal you truly desire a successful outcome. You are mentally and emotionally involved with result. With an aspiration you are committed to the moment yet detached from the outcome. You do not worry about whether or not your aspirations are achievable. In fact, you know that the biggest and boldest aspirations may never become reality. And that is fine because they provide a powerful context that energizes you now.”
We can bring our awareness into the present by working with the above principles and by incorporating meditation into our lives. We can also evaluate our ‘goals’ and ask ourselves why we want ‘such and such goal’ and thereby get to the core of what we want. We can than look for ways in which we already have what we are seeking.
Remember, this is your life, right now, right here, this moment. Remind yourself of this as you go about your days so you can take in what life has given you already. And yet, also look out onto the horizon of your life and envision the reality that you wish to draw to you. In this way, you can enjoy life now while casting your dreams forth.