aversions to goal-setting

The other day I was having lunch with a friend of mine and I realized what a flake I am.  I have always known that I am ‘flaky’ in the sense that I’ll get really excited about a hobby, job, project or similar endeavour, only to have that enthusiasm eventually dissipate to the point of extinction.  For a long time this seemed kind of funny to me, even quirky.  I liked the fact that I was interested in so many things, and people seemed to admire that I was always trying something new.

But over the past couple of years it’s been getting tiresome.  I’m at the point where I don’t really take myself seriously anymore, because I know that sooner or later the moment will pass and be gone forever.  And, at lunch with my friend, hearing myself speak…I clammed up.  I finally exhausted myself.  It hit me: What’s the point of talking about something that’s probably never going to happen?



Several years ago I worked in the office of a well-known yogawear company, where they were big on motivating their staff to achieve their personal dreams and goals.  Here, the concept of ‘goal-setting’ was driven home as absolutely essential for one to manifest their highest visions and ambitions.  What was my one-year goal?  3 years?  5 years?  And how would I measure progress?  How would I reward myself when I achieved my pre-designated milestones?  What was that damn acronym again?

To be honest, the goal-setting process has never worked for me and perhaps that’s why, years after leaving that job, I’m spinning my wheels in the same areas of my life.

It is very logical and reasonable to set goals for oneself, have a time plan, and create markers and rewards.  More importantly, I know it works for many people. For a long time, I thought that if I knew what I really, really wanted to achieve in five years, then I would certainly have the drive and determination to implement all those goal-setting steps and make it happen.  But maybe it’s deeper than that.  Maybe it’s fear of having big goals – what will take to achieve them, and What If I Fail?  Maybe it’s not feeling worthy that I can have the life of my dreams.  If I’ve never been taught to dream big, where do I start, and how do I really believe that I deserve it?  (Maybe it’s even my Vata nature which, in Ayurvedic medicine, means I have the body type/constitution that finds it challenging to manage and sustain my energy.)

In truth, I’m not totally sure why the practice of ‘plans’ and ‘goals’ and ‘timelines’ and ‘discipline’ and ‘commitment’ eludes me.  I know I’m not a lazy person; I’m very hard-working and in times when I have truly wanted certain things, I’ve had laser-sharp focus in getting them.  But if you ask me to think of my 5-year plan, my brain checks out immediately; I mean, it literally goes blank, zones out.  How can I possibly know what I’ll want in five years? There are countless choices I could make between now and then; how am I supposed to choose just one!?  What a boring way to live!   I change a little bit every day…who knows who I’ll be in five years!

If I knew I wanted to live in such-and-such city, in this neighbourhood making this amount of cash doing that kind of work, the goal-setting process wouldn’t be such a problem.  But there is a part of me – call it idealistic, naive, impractical – that feels like whatever ‘plan’ I come up with is just going to be limiting myself.  There is a small, yet undeniable and tenacious, belief deep within me that thinks life just might be way bigger and better than my teeny mind can presently design.  I’ve tried to ignore that little voice and ‘get real’…but it just won’t go away.



So where I am at now is acknowledging that I’m still clearly not in the headspace to devise a 1, 3, 5, or 10 year goal-setting plan.  However, I know for sure that changing my mind every few weeks/months is exhausting and spreads my energy around so much that I can’t bring anything significant into fruition.  So what I can do is…well, first stop telling myself ‘I’m a flake’.

What I need in the next few months is to stop focusing on ‘doing’ or ‘finding’ or ‘looking’ externally for the thing that, once I hit on it, will make everything click into place.  I don’t think such a thing exists.  In the past I have always thrown myself into the next hobby, convinced it’s what I’m meant to be doing and then…it inexplicably fades away.  I’ve rarely calmed my body or mind long enough to just ‘be’.  I don’t even know what that’s like.  There’s always been another course to take, an article to read, a coffee to drink. (A blog to write?)

It’s very interesting that I just moved into an apartment made for meditation. (Seriously, the friend I’m subletting for has been practicing yoga, meditation, and devotional chanting here for 20+ years.)  I’ve been running away from stillness for years.   Now I feel my only option, as I ready myself this next unknown phase of my life, is to stop moving so much and let my inspiration find me.

3 thoughts on “aversions to goal-setting

  1. I’ve also been at that stage (most of my life), and I’m also ”readying myself for this next unknown phase of my life”. Great piece of writing. I also like to keep my options open so that the future will not be limited, I’m not aimless, but I do tend to wander 🙂 Reading this made me feel like I’m not such a ”flake” after all! 😉


    • thanks for your comment! for me it’s about that balance between ‘action’ and trust/surrender that everything is as it should be. i’m learning to trust a little more every day.
      i’m glad there are others out there who can relate! : )


Comments are closed.