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Goals & Why I’m Giving Them Up

Starting January 1 of this year, I decided to set my intention towards sufficiency.

Specifically, I want to find my “enough” set point – that precise point (as “The Soul of Money” author Lynne Twist puts it) where I can live a life that has room for a bit of everything that matters most to me.

In other words, I don’t want to spend all my time working….to earn money….to buy things (including rent)….which then requires earning more money… get the idea.

Recently I happened across the most wonderful blog post called “100 Days with No Goals.

Although at first I didn’t think too much of the blog post. I scanned it and moved along, in search of something else I now can’t recall.

But later it came back to me. And it just kept coming back.

So I got more curious and decided to give goals a bit more attention. What I saw shocked me.

I realized that many of my long-standing goals – goals I had trusted, leaned on, relied on for some time now – were getting in the way of something much simpler: being able to like myself.

For example, when I began freelancing full time, I set a daily income goal. On the days I meet this goal, I feel good about being me. On the days I don’t meet this goal, I don’t feel good about being me.

But if I remove this goal, I realized I can feel good about being me anyway.

In the same way, for so many years I lived by a goal I had set to look a certain way and be a certain shape. But when I turned 40, gravity and metabolism decided to push back, and ever since it has become increasingly challenging to balance intuitive eating with waistline management.

Here, my goal has clearly become outdated, but I just didn’t notice. Instead, I was getting madder at myself for not meeting that goal day after day after day.

I removed the goal and began to feel better right away. 

What I like most about the blog post I read is that the blogger, who is one-half of the documentary film duo The Minimalists, doesn’t rule out all goals. He just rules out calling all the important life choices we make “goals.”

For example, he references finishing writing a book, which as a fellow writer is a goal I can really resonate with. But he doesn’t call it a goal. It is a choice he is making, and as long as it keeps feeling right and good to make that choice, he will keep choosing to work on his book. But if it doesn’t ever get done, so be it.

That feels like a very respectful way to interact with one’s own creativity – not pushing, shoving, behaving like a stage parent or a publicist, but just inviting it to unfold as it feels moved to do so – with courtesy, like one would for a new friend or a shy rose bush.

What really gets me, though, is that the smaller goals (earn $X per day, look this way, finish this by X date) have been interfering with my big choices (be happy, like myself, seek sufficiency).

So the goals must go. On my birthday this past month I shared that I want to be happy. This means I must pay attention to happiness-producing ideas. Not setting goals produces happiness. Making choices also produces happiness.

So it looks like “choices” will be my mentor of (um) choice going forward.

Today’s Takeaway: How do you feel about setting goals? Do you have a concept of what a “goal” is versus what a “choice” is or what not setting goals looks like? Do you feel like setting goals is helpful and supportive to you in your life, or do you see areas where goal setting may be holding you back?


Goals & Why I’m Giving Them Up

Shannon Cutts

Parrot, tortoise & box turtle mama. Writer. Author. Mentor. Champion of all people (and things) recovered and recovering.

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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2017). Goals & Why I’m Giving Them Up. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 2, 2020, from


Last updated: 21 Jan 2017
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