At the beginning of 2015 I set zero goals.
I have always had BIG plans and major goals. When I was 10 I decided to become a neurologist and told everyone I would study medicine at Johns Hopkins (so much for that lol). As far as dreaming up big ideas for my life that was only the beginning.
But sometimes actually arriving at the spot marked by “X” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Achieving the goal of getting into law school in 2008 and then working in private practice in 2012 broke something in me. The profession was clearly a poor fit and so I quickly felt burnt out, disillusioned, frustrated and disappointed. So after reading a post on Zen Habits about life without goals I started to wonder about life without the constant stress of striving.
It’s been a year now and I’ve learned quite a bit about myself. In particular, I learned that I really, really needs goals. They’re my raison d’être. They help me to see and value what I have done.
My mom always says, “Kris, it seems like every time you’re about to reach the bar, you jump up and push it out of reach. You’ve always been like that.” I thought she was onto something. Maybe this nonstop hustling was at the root of my misery. But in fact I just lost sight of the reason why I set goals.
Working toward a goal ensures I will always be somewhere different from where I started. I can say, “look where I came from, how I’ve grown and what I’ve learned.”
To me this is what matters. I cannot be happy if I am stagnant or complacent. I need to maximize the likelihood of experiencing new and varying things.
No treasure hunter knows quite what they will find when they reach “X” on the map. And often after encountering enough booby traps and ghosts along the way you learn that it’s best to leave the treasure where you found it and escape with your body and soul intact.
But I love the treasure hunt. I love adventures. I love learning.
For me, the destination is not the real goal. It never was. The goal is a life lived intentionally.