Why I Stopped Making Long-Term Goals

mountain goals

Almost everyone bases their lives off of a script.

These are often cultural checkpoints of what you should be doing at certain ages. Sadly, most of us mindlessly squeeze ourselves into these one-size-fits-all, culturally conditioned life scripts.

There are even massive disadvantages with creating your own long-term script. In doing so, you’re assuming that you know what is best for your future self based upon your limited perspective right now. That’s a dangerous assumption.

A caterpillar cannot even imagine what it is capable of as a butterfly. (Well, that’s if caterpillars even imagine in the first place.) If you’re continuously learning and growing, your present self can hardly imagine what your perspective will be in the future.

It’s in everyone’s best interest to have an idea of their life purpose. However, you step into your true potential when you focus on the daily process of it and allow your journey to change as you change.

The Perspective Discrepancy

We gain more experience and perspective as you go through life. Well, hopefully. If you’re not continuously learning and growing, what are you doing with your life?

You will be able to see from a wider perspective as you accumulate knowledge and experience. So why make rigid long-term plans from your limited perspective right now?

Focus on climbing the mountain in front of you, then from the panoramic view on top, choose your next mountain to climb. Don’t make self-binding decisions from the valley.

Most people do this with their careers. Think about it; the 19 year old you made a decision (choosing a college major) that you think you’re bound to for the rest of your life. Many people find themselves unfulfilled and in a mid-life crisis saying “I majored in Accounting and I can’t change that now. So here I am.” You always have the ability to change, especially with careers in the modern western world. Give yourself permission to change or be relegated to the purgatory of self-imposed monotony. Again, career is an obvious example, but this applies to absolutely every aspect of life.

If I set rigid life goals when I was 19, they would’ve been very different from what I would want now. I had a limited perspective then, with little real world experience, little self-awareness and I was completely possessed by my own ego and fears. Sticking to a long-term life plan I made then would be like making a fixed commitment to meet a friend for a cup of coffee at Uncommon Grounds in Saratoga Springs, New York on February 4th of next year at exactly 2:00PM. Who knows if we’ll be in the same place then? Who knows if I’ll like coffee then? Who knows if we’ll even be friends then?

Staying Open to Opportunity

Give yourself the flexibility to recalibrate what you want to do.

Stay open and things will unfold serendipitously in ways you never would’ve calculated. Opportunities will pop up that you never would’ve expected. Give yourself some flexibility to change as new possibilities present themselves.

If you stubbornly hold yourself to a rigid plan or goal, you’re cutting off possibility. Move in the direction you wish to travel in, yet be aware of the doors that unexpectedly open along the way.

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.”
– Joseph Campbell

Create Shorter Term Goals

Make your goals actionable and for the near-future (within a year or two).

However, don’t focus on your goals on a daily basis… Focus on the process or system! I can’t stress this enough. Set goals but focus on the daily habits that bring you in that direction. Most people never achieve goals (even easily accomplishable ones) because they don’t implement an actionable daily practice.

For example, let’s say you want to write a book (something a lot of people say they want to do). You don’t have to commit to being a lifelong author to do this. What most people do is say that they have a book idea and never do anything about it (like with most goals). The result is being paralyzed with inaction because they think of a goal yet have no tangible way of implementing it. There is no action to take right now, so it gets ignored indefinitely. Instead of this, focus on a system to bring you towards the goal. This could be writing for 30 minutes every day. Anyone can write a book in 6 months or less if they create a habit of writing for just 30 minutes each and every day.

With this systems approach, each daily practice becomes a mini-step, meaning you can reassess everything continuously. Then after you achieve what you want, you can focus on the process to bring you towards another short/medium-term goal.

After you achieve a short/medium-term goal, you’ll be a new and improved person. From this higher perspective, you can set new goals and recalibrate your direction.

Learn to love the process of life. Be open, flexible, flowing and willing to change along the way.

Enjoy the journey. Revel in the mysterious serendipity of it all.

Much Love.

– Stevie P!
 

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Stevie P