Reading Goal-Free Living for the First Time…Again

February 27, 2006

One of the book’s early reviewers recently had a change of circumstances in her life. She was contemplating a career change.
Rereading Goal-Free Living, when in this new situation, gave the book new meaning. Here’s what she wrote….

I was fortunate to be one of the early reviewers of Goal-Free Living manuscript. I read it several times and gave top of mind thoughts as the book evolved. I recall smiling periodically at the sections that resonated with me. But, for the most part, I had intellectualized the book and approached it from an editor’s perspective. Frankly, by the “umpteenth” time reading it, I could barely bring myself to look at the book cover that sat atop my living room coffee table. But then an interesting phenomenon occurred.

The company I have been working with for the past 5 years was making changes. My role evolved to support the needs of the business. Unfortunately this evolution did not support my own needs. The new role was driving me toward activities that I felt unfit to do. More importantly, they were activities I loathed!
Although I wanted to share my concerns with my boss, I was concerned that doing so might put my job at risk. The uncertainty of a jobless future was daunting. However, after several hours of discussing this with my husband, we agreed that my happiness was more important and we could make ends meet. With that settled, I went to cook dinner.

Then, from the other room I heard a voice – a voice like that of a preacher at his pulpit.

“Trust that you are never lost. I once gave a presentation on Goal-Free Living, and a woman in the audience asked a question: “I work in a cubicle in a well-known technology firm and I am unhappy….”

I instantly recognized the words. It was from the second secret in Goal-Free Living. I put down my spatula and headed back into the living room where my husband continued reading. For the next 20 minutes I sat on the floor as he read to me the very same words I had read so many times before. But this time, as I listened – I wept. Before, what were merely words on a page, now reached down to the core of my heart. Every word had meaning given my circumstances. It was as if I were hearing it for the first time.
And in all honesty, I was! I was in a different place in my life.
The words danced from my husbands lips and gave me renewed inspiration and hope.

If you read Goal-Free Living today and you find it to be an interesting concept that does not completely resonate…hang onto it. As your life evolves, the deepness of this book’s meaning will give you a whole new book to read again, for the first time, in the future!

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GFL in Boston Globe

February 19, 2006

There’s an article in today’s Boston Globe (and about 20 other papers) with a reference to Goal-Free Living. It starts out…

Find your voice, and then use it by Dale Dauten
“When you wake up tomorrow morning, make believe you are another person — an artist, a musician, or a doctor. It doesn’t matter, as long as it is someone other than you. You will begin to see things over the course of the day that you never saw before. Then the next day, be someone else.” This advice comes from an intriguing new book, ”Goal-Free Living” by Stephen Shapiro. Its premise is that goals are not the path to happiness but a hindrance to it, that we should be open to life as opposed to being Captain Ahab in pursuit of the great white Mercedes.

Click here for the full article.

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Goal-Free Dating

February 14, 2006

Valentine’s Day is here. A time of celebration for some. A day of great emptiness for others. Think about the pressure that men and women 25+ put on themselves when it comes to dating. They have convinced themselves that they will be happy when they are in a relationship. That the right person will “complete” them.

It’s not only about finding the perfect date, but finding the perfect venue, getting perfect weather, wearing the perfect outfit and having the perfect conversation – one that more often than not ends up being forced, formal and frustrating!

Well, take a breather from it all, Valentine’s Day or not! Dating is like the romanticism of travel. Prior to a vacation, there is imagery of perfect weather, fabulous food, lots of rest and reading, etc. Fast forward into the trip after two days without your luggage (including your raincoat), the rooster that has perched itself out of your “ground-level-overlooking-the-parking lot-room” window, and you’d like to sic some of your own revenge on this Montezuma person!!

The solution? Stop romanticizing the future. Live in the here and now. Appreciate yourself first. Then relax about the whole dating thing. Here are a few tips to help:

1. Stop romanticizing: Instead of going into each date worried about perfecting it so as to secure “this one” being “the one” approach it from the standpoint of a fun meal with someone you may learn a thing or two from and if at the end you have a friendship or more out of it, then it was a success.

2. Stop trying: When you are on a date, do not worry about the next date. Instead, just enjoy the other person’s company…for that moment. You will come across as more genuine and less desperate. This, ironically, increases your chances of getting that second date.

3. Stop doing: Instead of signing up for 40 different online dating sites, going on 90 dates in 30 days, ending up broke & miserable – and still without a relationship, let it go. Go to events without the goal of meeting your spouse. Rather go there to have a good time and to meet new people.

4. Appreciate yourself: One woman I met in my travels “married” herself several years ago. The purpose was to continually remind her of her commitment to doing for herself what she would do for a spouse. She would love, make time for, and respect herself. Only after having this type of relationship with herself could she begin to have a similar relationship with a man.

This year, have the best time and the best relationships during Valentine’s Day by being goal-free.

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Quoted in Today’s Investor’s Business Daily

February 8, 2006

I am quoted in today’s Investor’s Business Daily. Click here to read the article.

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Video: Shapiro on Sundays With Liz

February 8, 2006

On Sunday February 5th, I was on “Sundays with Liz” (CBS 4 – Boston). The entire show was about “goals.”

To download the video, right-click on the desired file and “Save Target As.” Then play the video from the saved location.

Low resolution (5 Meg)

High resolution (10Meg)


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Making an Impact

February 7, 2006

My theme for 2006 is “impact.” It makes me feel incredible when I receive emails, like this one…



Thank you so much. I could never put my finger on it, but the high pressure of all the goal setting made me anxious, and I felt like I was missing the boat half the time.

I’ve spent thousands of dollars on life coaches to help me reach goals prematurely which only stressed me out. Turns out, I was right on track all along, and just needed to enjoy the journey.

Goal free, stress free! This is not to say that I don’t have dreams I work toward. Of course I do. But now, I enjoy the process and don’t put unnecessary and counter-productive pressure on myself.

I can’t express how much lighter I feel after reading just a little bit of your book! It was like you were speaking right to me.

So, will I reach my goals? I don’t know. But I do know I’ll keep growing and enjoy the unique journey that is….my life.

I could just hug you!

Thank you, thank you.

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Three Cheers for Change

February 7, 2006

I recently received an email with the subject line, “Three Cheers for Change.” It is the story of Erin McElvaney, and her interpretation of Goal-Free Living, based on her own experiences. For Erin, it means leading a life of adventure. For now, that is her compass setting. I predict that through her travels and new experiences, she will find something that really gets her jazzed up — something unpredictable — that will become her new compass setting. Something that will become a full-time entrepreneurial endeavor. Goal-Free Living is about playing full out in the game of life. What is the game you want to play?

By age 23, I was the poster child for “success” in the eyes of my family and friends. I had a great job at a leading technology company, where I had been working for a little over a year as a software engineer. I was making more money that 99% of the people in my graduating classes. In order to get there, I worked my butt off for years through college, maintaining 4.0′s and honors and taking internships and jobs all year round. I felt locked into my lifestyle. I *had* to take that job or *had* to apply for the *best* positions.

But work was not inspiring. None of my colleagues were happy. They worked 50+ hours a week and didn’t have much going on outside work. Morale was awful. The company didn’t care about us as employees. And you would be hard pressed to hear an interesting conversation on the whole campus of 10,000+ employees. After seeing how crummy full-time employment in a big tech company can be, I started to make some REAL changes…and I quit my job.

You should have seen their faces when I left. My boss assumed I had another job lined up. But I didn’t, and I couldn’t have been happier about it. In fact, what I had lined up was what I called “QUITFEST 2005″ — a string of celebrations and travels to commemorate the fact that I stuck through that job for a whole year.

I bought a one-way ticket to Europe – without a destination. I found out where I’d fly into on the day of my flight. I spent two months traveling Europe, mostly by myself. I started work on my own website that relates to travel. I’d love to help others plan their own trips abroad. Or help them NOT plan their trips. If you have too many goals in your travels, you miss out on some of the best parts –the adventures, mishaps, and meanderings.

Two months later I flew home for the holidays and have been working part time jobs doing marketing promotions. I am so happy to have social interaction in a job for once! I work as a photographer and promoter every weekend a few nights for an entertainment guide website. I also worked at a restaurant for the first time in my life. I loved it! I met some wonderful people who live amazingly real and happy lives, without all the stresses and goals of the people I spent so much time around in college and in my other job.

I am so excited about my present and my future nowadays. Years ago I was always looking for that future. It was as if I was planning for retirement before I even began my career! Now that I’m through my initial life-altering change, I’m looking forward to years more ahead of me. My daily activities have gone from “sitting at my desk, hating my pointless work, accumulating money in the bank because I have no vacation time to enjoy myself with” — to – “looking for odd jobs to help pay the bills, learning some Italian and planning my next adventure, after which I’ll be out interacting with strangers and meeting new people.”

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Business Plans = Bankruptcy?

February 6, 2006

I recently received the following email…

I appreciated your blog entry on goal-free business. My experience with start-ups has taught me that it is the journey, because the destination isn’t always what you originally intended. The first start-up company I was with managed to sell for profit in the midst of the telco bust (we were a telco). Why were we able to to this? Because we adapted and managed to do it fast–this involved a major change to our business plan. We had our hands in the business as well as on the business. I feel this balance kept us from having tunnel vision.

The president of the second company I was with wrote an excellent business plan. It looked great on paper and he proceeded to execute his plan without examining how it was impacting the business. He didn’t understand why things didn’t work out they way they were supposed to. Within 8 months, the company went bankrupt.

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