Being Goal-Free is More Than Fishing

March 30, 2005  

On February 21st, I posted an email from a woman who wrote me about her “goal-free” story. Yesterday I had the pleasure of interviewing her via phone. Lynn is 43, a mother of 5, a busy professional, a wife, and she says she has never set a goal in her life, with the exception of getting her black belt in Tae Kwon Do, which she did at age 41.

Her community in rural Oklahoma is quite poor. So, they don’t really have, or want much. Most of the people there are happy to make enough money to go fishing in their spare time. But that is not enough for Lynn. Her “aspiration” is to continually learn and grow. This is what gets her excited. But she has never set out to achieve anything in particular. Instead she is constantly participating in life and looking for new opportunities that present themselves. And when they do, she takes advantage of them and moves forward with full force. She never thought to herself, “This is where I want to be in 10 years.” Rather she lets life unfold naturally, using her internal barometer as a guide.

There have been times when she would take jobs that she “thought” she should be doing. Either because they had higher pay potential or because everyone else was doing it. She tried various sales and telemarketing jobs. But they just weren’t aligned with her values and beliefs. And so even though she tried to make those jobs work, she was miserable and was ultimately unsuccessful. When she listened to her gut instinct, she has always been successful on whatever path she has chosen.

As she said in her email to me, “I guess I’ve lived in the moment, for the moment, and that setting goals seemed so structured and unbending. I obtained my Master’s when I was 21, am currently working on National Board Certification, and am in constant pursuit of knowledge and personal and spiritual growth. I never would have set these as goals for myself, yet I always achieve what I set out for.”