Everyone Should Have Goals…Right?

October 31, 2005

I recently attended a workshop, where a large focus was on goal-setting. Given my contrarian perspective, I was asked to briefly speak to the group about Goal-Free Living. The next day, a woman came over to me and said, “My son is one of the happiest people I know. And he is wildly successful. But he doesn’t have any goals. And I think he should have goals. What do you think? Should I buy him your book?” My response was, “No. You should buy the book for yourself so that you can better understand your son. Here is someone who is happy and successful, and you want to change that! Maybe after reading the book, you will want to give him your copy so that he feels validated.”

It is interesting how people believe that their view of the world is the correct one — and that others should follow their lead. There are many ways to live your life. I am not proselytizing Goal-Free Living! It is not the right way to live your life. It is only an alternative view of the world. A view that works for many happy and successful people.

I discussed the concept of certitude in a previous post.

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Comment from Blog

October 12, 2005

Here is the first paragraph of another comment posted on my blog:

“I stumbled across your web site today and succumbed to my curious state. Goal-Free Living, how contrary to the stuff forced down me since childhood. I have seldom successfully done the goal thing. It some how runs against my nature to live life with some spontaneity. The word flow appeals to lovers of freedom and originality. The setting of goals according to someone else’s suggestion immediately puts you on there path to some degree, changes the flow if you will. Whoa says I. Do not take me off my path. It may be a bad path or it may be a good path but it is my path. If I divert my attention to this goal preparation at someone’s behest, I will probably, to some degree, put down those goals the goal pusher wants, which leads me away from my inner path, brought to me by all my natural faculties. Now it may be that my faculties are not so good, or perhaps the goal pushers faculties are not so good. Should I trust him or me? There-in lies the rub. It reminds me of a line in an old country and western song, ‘I can make my own mistakes just fine.’”

Read the original entry and the full comment here

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Happy as a Dog

October 11, 2005

One of my favorite authors is Carl Hiaasen. He writes fun books where the bad guys are always land developers in Miami. In his book Sick Puppy, one of the characters is a dog. A Labrador retriever. A very goal-free dog.

The dog was having a grand time. That’s the thing about being a Labrador retriever – you were born for fun. Seldom was your loopy, free-wheeling mind cluttered by contemplation, and never at all by somber worry; every day was a romp. What else could there possibly be to life? Eating was a thrill. Pissing was a treat. Shitting was a joy. And licking your own balls? Bliss. And everywhere you went were gullible humans who patted and hugged and fussed over you.

Labradors operated by the philosophy that life was too brief for anything but fun and mischief and spontaneous carnality….Labradors tended to live exclusively, gleefully, and obliviously in the moment.

When I read this passage, it made me wonder if sometimes the human brain is our enemy. Maybe it is our ability to think and rationalize that becomes a barrier to true and gleeful bliss. So perhaps, just for today, I’ll choose to be happy like a dog.

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Gross National Happiness

October 10, 2005

A recent New York Times article raises the question, “What is happiness. In the United States and in many other industrialized countries, it is often equated with money.” The article continues with an idea of the small Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan: Gross National Happiness. “The goal, according to many involved in this effort, is in part to return to a richer definition of the word happiness, more like what the signers of the Declaration of Independence had in mind when they included ‘the pursuit of happiness’ as an inalienable right equal to liberty and life itself.”

Read the article. Then ask yourself what your measure(s) of happiness would be.

P.S. To read the article, you must register with the New York Times — it’s free.

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Alan Alda’s Goal-Free Quote

October 7, 2005

In Alan Alda’s new book, Never Have Your Dog Stuffed (And Other Things I’ve Learned) , he tells a story about “The Apple Tree,” a mid-’60s Broadway play, which resulted in a Tony nomination. What he recalls in the book is wondering where his career was going.

In a recent CNN interview, Alda is quoted as saying, “The story I tell about standing under the silk shroud in ‘The Apple Tree’ and my career had come to nothing so far, and then realizing that I was looking at it wrong — instead of thinking about what I ought to be doing, I should be thinking about what I’m doing,” he says, “and make the most of what I have in front of me.”

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Quote of the Day

October 5, 2005

I met someone this weekend who, after a major tragedy, decided to take the goal-free path. His life is now one of adventure and exploration, always trying new things. He says that he still makes plans. But the purpose of the plans is to tell him what NOT to do. He and his buddies have an expression they frequently use:

“We have a plan. Commence deviation.”

I love it!

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Comment on Blog

October 5, 2005

From time to time, I will take comments buried deep within my blog, and include them here. Here is a recent comment that you may not have seen.

“How our perspectives get elevated in accordance with our inflation in life experience, external events and thus expectations. We get moulded, bullied and branded everyday into beliefs, popular opinion and attitude which engulf our individual spirits wave after wave. I often feel typhooned by the current climate and culture immediate to me. That is to say, laziness, ineptness, a restraint for anything self sacrificial, self analytical (introspective), innovative creativity, exploration and a culture shaped by convenience.

“I feel out of place because my attitude stems from wanting to rise to the top through unorthodox methods – meeting and knowing people. Human character and the person behind the letters and degrees to their name. I am a great believer in networking and that we are all within a nexus of humanity – of which can be contacted behind all types of masks and protrusions that protect the inner sanctum of our souls and mettle.

“I could say much more, but what I basically mean is that by Goal free living and slowing my life down in accordance with my current environment and a whole lot more, I have been able to cope with myself and my environment.”

You can find the original blog entry, and the full comment here

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Go 95%; Achieve Optimal Performance

October 3, 2005

I just read a blog entry on CanOWorms that discusses the concept of 95% perfection. The general idea is that in sports, we achieve optimal performance when we put 95% effort into what we do. My own experiences — personal and professional — support this premise.

A few years ago, I worked with a Formula One team (auto racing). Their pit crews have long been admired for their ability to fuel a car, change the tires (back before rule changes that disallowed tire changes during refueling), and do the required maintenance in a matter of seconds. There are 19 people in a pit crew. To find the optimal configuration of the team, they move each of the crew members around until they get the best combination. And then they practice more. All of this is under while being measured with a stop watch. Eventually the team can go no faster; they hit a performance plateau no matter how hard they try. Once, as an experiment, the pit crew members were told that they were NOT going to be timed; that they should just go as fast as possible without going full out (95%?). The result? The pit crew shaved several tenths of a second off their best time – although pit crew members “felt” that they went slower.

When we remove the time pressures of traditional goals and the mental pressure to go full out (100%), our efforts flow more effortlessly and we perform at optimum levels. Whether it be in sports or in life, when we play, have fun, and allow life to unfold naturally – rather than forcing it – we operate at a higher level of performance AND do it with greater ease.

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