A Year Without Goals

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If you are a follower of SimpleMoney, you know that I’m a passionate supporter of goal setting.  Like many of you, I had a tough year in 2020.  The end of the year found me burned out, depleted.  I made some pretty significant decisions about how I wanted my life to look for the coming few years, and that led to some difficult choices and changes.

I’m happy to report, however, that 2021 is off to a good start, thanks to one main mental shift I made: this would be a year where I don’t set any goals.

Gasp, I know.

What exactly does that mean, “no goals?”  Well, in late December, which is usually a time of great joy for me as I anticipate the new year and the goals I want to set, I was done in.  Dog tired.  Unmotivated.  And despite the fact that I dragged all my usual goal-setting supplies to the beach for our week there, I didn’t even open my notebook.  I felt guilty for this neglect, but one morning the answer came to me in a random thought:

What if I just didn’t set any goals this year?

At first, I scoffed at this notion.  Lazy!  What a cop out!  The last time I had a year without goals was. . . Um, never.  Okay, maybe when I was a child.  After the initial scoff, however, the idea started to form.  I could do that!  There wasn’t a law saying I had to have goals.  It would be a grand experiment!  After the incredibly busy few years I’d just gone through, and of course the added stress of the pandemic, I deserved a break.  And besides, a year wasn’t that long, really.

Adopting my word for the year

I warmed up to the idea just in time for another flash of insight: my word for the year.  A few years ago, I adopted the habit of choosing a word for the year – a guiding principal sort of thing.  In  2019 my word was reinvent, to go along with it being the year I turned 50.  That worked VERY well for me, and so in 2020, I chose refine.  I wanted to continue the work I’d done during reinvention and refine various aspects of my life.

You might think the arrival of the pandemic would have derailed this sort of focus, but it didn’t.  In fact, it turned out to be the perfect word for that perfect storm of a year.  I latched on to the idea of refinement and applied it to everything.  I picked apart my business, fixed things, and made great strides toward streamlining our operations there.  My personal life also went under the microscope.

All in all, I did some major refining last year.

In early December, I had started brainstorming my 2021 word.  I had a few finalists, as I usually do, and I sort of audition them for a few weeks in preparation for January.  Due to my December being filled with angst, fatigue, and chaos, my word for the year search got shoved to the back burner.

At the very end of the month, however, I remembered it, just as I was toying with the idea of having no goals for 2021.  Of course!  One of my finalists was flow.  I was originally feeling very resistant to having that as my word, as it was so out of character for me.  That was probably why I couldn’t really settle on a choice.  But in an instant, my “no goals” year became my year of FLOW.  It was perfect.

As you can see, the flow I’ve been going with has prevented me from getting back to this blog much so far this year.  But today was the day!  I was inspired to get this story down on paper, in the event that it might be helpful to anyone struggling to get their mojo back this year.

How has this worked out? 

Pretty well, I’d say.  I had determined in December that I simply could not do ALL the things, so I started focusing on what was the most important thing right now.  All the rest, well, it just went with the flow.

Sometimes, or truthfully, often, I have had tasks that have migrated from day to day, week to week, as they remain unfinished.  The minute this starts to impact me negatively, I remind myself of my flow year, and then I remove them from my daily to do list onto a master list I’m keeping out of sight.  The way I figure it, if I haven’t done it in a few weeks, and I move it out of sight and it STILL doesn’t get done, it just might not need gettin’ done.  Some of those things I end up crossing right off my list.

GSD in spite of the flow

The miracle of miracles is that most stuff is getting done, despite my refusal to obsess about it.  I continue to chant “one thing at a time” when the need arises, and I remind myself that I’m just going with the flow.

Do I miss my goals?  A little bit, if I’m honest.  It was one of my chief joys to review my goals and motivate myself for my week.  Now it feels more like triage: what absolutely, positively must get done this week?  And my list builds from there.  I assume I’ll return to goal setting next year, but who knows, maybe I won’t.

Are you a goal setter?  Or do you just go with the flow?  Share below!  Or if you want to start a discussion with some like-minded friends, join the free SimpleMoney Community on Facebook to share your thoughts.

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You might also enjoy:

A New Way to Think about Goals

Recap on My Simplicity Goals for 2020

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