I had the opportunity to play music with a very talented singer/songwriter last weekend. His songs and arrangements are world class and could easily be ready for any national media, right up there with any of the most popular artists today. He, in fact, has had a couple of songs that "charted" on Adult Contemporary radio formats several years ago. He continues to write new songs, and perform regularly.
I asked Andy about his goals with his music, expecting to hear how this or that record company was interested, or how this or that agent had national tours lined up. Instead, he said, "I don't do goals anymore. And I'm a lot happier playing music because of it."
I realized I was definitely a kindred soul on that point. I, myself, had given up traditional goalsetting and the step-by-step daily achievements that "through hard work" will lead to the achievement of a goal. I just gave it up because I was not getting any feeling of accomplishment by making my goals anymore. It was fine and good when I was a kid, and I could use goals as a means to improve my running times in track, or my grades in science, but as I matured, something else became more important than the achievement of goals: following the excitement.
So many times I had passed up opportunities to do something really interesting or exciting because I was focussed on "making my goals." When you think about it, goal setting and making is at its core completely consumerist behavior. More or better cars, houses, TVs, computers, friends, women, whatever--the goal-setting lifestyle leads to more consumption, and all the other human foibles of the seven deadly sins...
By making life about what interests and excites, when you are doing the exciting and interesting thing, the only "goal" is doing more of it! This is where the "do what you love and all else will follow" school contains a great deal of truth.
Why do certain things interest you? Why do certain things excite? To me, those are the REAL questions to ask about how to live a life. For me, I believe what interests and excites me is what I am designed to be doing; where I can make contributions, feel accomplishment, and increase my personal power. It is why I am here.
If all I am doing is working to achieve a goal, the payoff doesn't fully happen until the goal is achieved. And, how often have we "made sacrifices" of drudgery and suffering in the attainment of goals?
By following the excitement and enthusiasm in life, I believe we are riding in the wake of our True Selves--who we truly are; what we are destined to be doing, and what most directly allows for the divine expression of the art of Self.
Life coach, Leo Babuata, had a great blog post last week called, "The Illusion of Control." In it he encourages us to let go of being in control. Stop trying to set and attain goals. Flow with life and let it lead you to your bliss. What does a life lived like this look like? Here's Leo's take on it:
- We stop setting goals, and instead do what excites us.
- We stop planning, and just do.
- We stop looking at the future, and live in the moment.
- We stop trying to control others, and focus instead on being kind to them.
- We learn that trusting our values is more important to taking action than desiring and striving for certain outcomes.
- We take each step lightly, with balance, in the moment, guided by those values and what we're passionate about, rather than trying to plan the next 1,000 steps and where we'll end up.
- We learn to accept the world as it is, rather than being annoyed with it, stressed by it, mad at it, despaired by it, or trying to change it into what we want it to be.
- We are never disappointed with how things turn out, because we never expected anything--we just accept what comes.
By asking the existential questions about values and passions, we start to discover a world where everything is in support of whatever it is that excites us. What freedom there is in that! The Universe is apparently setup to support your interests, your talents, your excitement!
As I pointed out in my last article, "Accepting Acceptance," an excellent tool for getting to what it is that "turns you on," is to fully accept who you are. That means who you deep down want to be. You only want to be it because you already are it. Now it's just a matter of reflecting that in what you do.
Sure there are chores to be done, money to be made, and delays that test our patience--but isn't that all a part of the package? As we get closer and closer to reflecting in action the passion of our true selves, parts of our lives that previously seemed unrelated or out-and-out barriers, start to become all a part of the exciting unfoldment of deepest passions.
The zen saying about maintaining simplicity in life, "Chop wood, carry water," could be restated as "Chop wood, carry water, on the way to your passion." Do what is necessary, but make sure it is getting you to your excitement, your passion, what it is you love to be, do and have.