Zen Habits – Stop Planning and Forget About Goals

Almost every activity we do has a purpose and generally, a specific goal in mind. Whether it’s driving to work, exercising or doing laundry, the activity is aimed at achieving something. What would happen if we gave up the goal? What would a journey without a goal look like?

Imagine going for a bike ride with no particular purpose. You plan on taking a new path to explore and wind up taking another direction because you become
curious about what is around the corner. No destination in mind, nothing to achieve. Just curiosity, having fun, and the anticipation of not knowing what the outcome will be.

What would it be like to try doing a project or task without a goal? Set your intention to express yourself without knowing the effect of the outcome you achieve and have fun. Imagine figuring out the work as you go, allowing yourself to go where it takes you. This process stimulates your curiosity to keep going because each new step wants you to find out more, do more and experience more.


Taking this concept a step farther, Leo Babauta, author of Zen Habits, asks what would it be like to live life without a fixed plan? Without knowing where you’ll be living in five years, or what you’ll be doing, or what you want to achieve? While the answers are unknown, he has experienced a new level of freedom by letting go of goals, fixed plans and destinations.

Our parents and our society have taught us to be organizers, planners and goal-setters. To let go requires a radical shift in thinking to one that allows for the free-flow of ideas and just being in the moment of the experience.

There is no right or wrong way to get started with free-flow. That is the real undiscovered beauty with this shift in thinking. Ideas form without goals, planning or intent on how the end result should be. Tomorrow, wake up excited about being alive. Ask yourself what you would like to do that perhaps you have always wanted to, but haven’t. You Remember, you aren’t bound to anything at this point, but the question is important.

Get started! Do something that you enjoy or are excited about. Have fun just experiencing each step with this new perspective and see where it takes you in the process. While the project may be a goal or destination, remember, it’s not fixed! There is no set plan and the destination doesn’t matter as much as the process- the journey itself. Your focus may shift as you go. The flow of ideas or unforeseen circumstances may change your course. The key is to adapt. No plan
can anticipate every outcome and neither can you. Without predetermined goals and destinations, you will find the path much more rewarding, uninhibited and a richer learning experience in the end. Discovering new and different outcomes create flexibility and you will become better at change and uncertainty instead of fearing it.

As new challenges arise, you will be better equipped to adapt and let go of tightly held beliefs that may hold you back from new and rewarding opportunities. You are free to do this because you don’t mind where you end up – it is about being present in the journey, excited about each step and having fun along the way. Each step becomes the destination, and is exactly where you should be.

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