Finding Happiness By Going Goalless

This is the time of the year when health clubs expand their membership, all the vegetables at the grocery store fly off the shelf, and people buy actual books.  It is resolution time.  People make resolutions to exercise more, eat better, and read.  Only 8 percent of the people who make resolutions manage to keep them, but people continue to try because they know they should and they at some level do want a better life.

So why isn’t that the resolution?  Why don’t people just say, “This year I will live the life I want to and/or should live.”  We all want to improve ourselves, but are we going about it the right way?  Are we going about it in a way that actually improves our lives and makes us happy?

Besides the hobby of improvement we also like lists and goals.  We like goals with achievable and measurable outcomes.  I did the same thing.  I would create a goal, set my objectives, define the outputs to use to achieve the objectives, give myself a time period to achieve these objectives, and create measurable outcomes to show my success.

If that sounds overly methodical, it is.  I was a grant writer for many years and in crafting grant proposals one of the main things the grantor wants to know is what are you going to use the money and how will you measure if you are successful.  That is where SMART comes to play.  Your objectives must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound.

The problem was they became things I simply wanted to achieve or do.  They were points on a checklist and as such they lost meaning to me.  They were always things I really wanted and if achieved should have given me some sense of happiness, but by making them tasks I became fixated on getting the things done and not enjoying doing them.

Essentially, the tasks became too myriad and too big to easily achieve and it became so much about completing them that I would abandon them.  So this year I will simplify it.  These are things that align more with the life I want to live and believe will make my life happier.  I’m trying not to set goals.  I am trying to change the fundamental nature of how I live.

In no particular order, here are the four things I will do this year:

I want my life to be about beer and literature.  Will I do things over the course of the year that could be seen as tasks to facilitate these four things?  Yes, I will probably seek to be published.  I did write a book last year and I may edit or rewrite it or I may write a whole other book.  I may try to find another job that will give me time and access to the things that will make achieving those four things possible and easier.  Giving up the idea of goals is not about giving up the idea of achieving the things you want on in life.  It is about achieving them while keeping yourself happy.

If I do the four things I listed, I believe I’ll be happier in general.  So, if I were to say there is a goal for this year, it would be mindful of everything I do, be present in each moment, and try to do the thing that is right for me and those around me at all times.  Be Mindful, Be Present, Be Happy.

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2 Responses to “Finding Happiness By Going Goalless”

  1. […] Not just another WordPress site. « Finding Happiness By Going Goalless […]

  2. […] books and writings at a point when my this year’s New Year’s resolution was simple:  Be more present.  I found his work and the works of others thanks to the website brainpickings.org which has […]

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