Why I’ve Ditched the Goals

This week it is my birthday.

I always think of September, or more specifically my birthday, as the start of the year. January somehow seems too dark and cold to think about starting new things or stopping old ones.

In past years I have set goals in various areas of my life: career, fitness, relationships and so on. I reviewed my progress each month and set new goals each September, often on holiday when I had some time away from reality. I carefully planned my goals and worded them as implementation intentions to increase the chance of me achieving them. I turned goal setting and achievement into a job.

I also had a word to guide the year. Last year my word was Balance. Ironically this was before The School of Balance was even born. Before I truly understood what the word even meant (maybe I still don’t), but I did realised I was craving balance and desperately needed balance.

One book I read this year changed my entire perspective on goal setting.

This birthday I haven’t reviewed my goals from last year. I don’t mind if I’ve achieved them or not. This is all because I’ve given up my goals, ditched them! Midway through the year I read The Desire Map. It was a revelation for me. The book urged me to using consider how I wanted to FEEL rather than what I wanted to DO to guide my decisions rather than carefully crafted goals. Inspirational!

Now, I know this might be a bit of a surprise given I talk so much about achievement and this months interview was even on goals, dreams and achievement. However, I don’t see ditching my goals as giving up on my dreams, ambition or drive. I am still just as keen to progress and achieve. I see my new approach simply as being less prescriptive in what achieving my goals looks like. Have you ever had a situation where you had high expectation about something you really wanted to do and you got there and for whatever reason had an anticlimactic ‘what’s next’ feeling?

For me this new approach is all about being less prescriptive. If I want to feel freedom, for example, that may be going on a big backpacking trip in Indonesia, but it may also be ok if it’s setting out on an unplanned journey in my own city to have a spontaneous day. Letting the desired feeling drive me not an arbitrary goal. Focusing on feeling the way I want to feel everyday, whether at home or work, not just when going for a goal.

The book guides you to come up with a set of ‘core desired feelings’. In case you’re interested mine are:


These words will guide my decisions, however big or small for the year. Do I take on that new project? Shall I accept an invitation to dinner? What shall I do this weekend? Decisions all made better by thinking about how I want to feel. Whilst I’m not having set goals this year I am keeping my idea of having one guiding word for the year. This year it is LOVE. For me this is about loving myself and others.

I’m not going to review my achievement the way I used to, but I do still want to keep track. Maybe I’ll keep a running list of amazing things however small, or maybe I’ll write the good moments on a scrap of paper and save them up until this time next year to read through or maybe I’ll just let the moments pass and let whatever memories and feelings stay that want to. One to ponder, so I’ll let you know when I figure that bit out.

Does the idea of giving up goals make you feel empowered or super scared? I’d love to know your thoughts, goals and dreams.


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8 thoughts on “Why I’ve Ditched the Goals

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