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You don’t always need a plan for goals

Posted: June 20, 2013 1:54 p.m.
Updated: June 21, 2013 5:00 a.m.

A woman I went to college with recently posted a blog about achieving goals.

She went on about how she was glad that she was able to witness herself crossings things off her life list, although most of the time she is on her own case for not doing as much as she can to achieve more of her goals. Her blog was inspiring and of course, begged the question: Am I setting and achieving my goals? My next question, though, was: “Why do I even need goals?”

I think a lot of people have goals in life, but don’t have an exact plan on how to achieve them. A lot of us spend time saying “I should have….” or “I should be…” but don’t realize we are already on our way. There are things I would like to do in life, but I don’t consider myself a traditional goal setter. I don’t really care for rigid structures for achieving goals, because I’m a little too free spirited for that. If you only live by the path you’ve set out in order to achieve your goals, you miss out on experiences that can have a profound impact on your life and your mission. The saying, “Life happens when you are making plans,” is so true. Sometimes, I find myself cherishing the moments I traveled off the beaten path more than the times I’ve been on the straight and narrow path. I’m pretty sure most people can reflect and say the same.  

I think your 20s is when your little bubble deflates a little bit; sometimes it’s for the better. In college I had all of these ideas and dreams; but when I got out and reality set in, I had to ask myself why I wanted to achieve those things. To be honest, my pre-graduation goals were kind of vain. They were goals that weren’t really in line with who I am and what I intrinsically believe about life. Since then, I’ve come up with new goals that are more aligned with the person I want to become, not the person I am right now or what I think would be a fabulous life. It’s important for our goals to consider our future needs. If you are dead-set on a plan and have no flexibility about the details, you could end up unhappy, unfulfilled and limited. Sometimes, even with our best efforts, goals don’t come to fruition. Goals -- more so the plan to achieve the goals -- can push us toward discontentment if we are constantly looking around and comparing where we are on the path to our heart’s desires compared to others. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a concrete plan -- I could stand to take a few tips from those hard-line goal setters -- but sometimes it’s okay to not know how we are going to get there. It’s OK to open up to the experiences of life, instead of always working and striving to achieve something. The woman who owns the yoga studio that I practice at says: “Ask the question and live into the answer.”

It’s never too late to decide that you want to dedicate more time to pursuing a dream or desire, to ease up on a particular “goal” or to change your mind and pursue a different interest. Nine times out of 10, if something you had your heart set on doesn’t work out, then you more than likely had your head set on it instead of your heart and you just got the two confused. I’ve done that enough times in my almost 25-years of life to know that there is a big difference between what your head wants and what your heart wants. Your head helps you achieve want your heart wants, but it doesn’t really work the other way around.

So how do we achieve without fixating on the plan to get us there?

I’m a big believer that if it is meant to be, it will be. Not magically -- it will take some work -- but when your heart really desires something you’ll always be working toward it, no matter what setbacks and sidetracks you find along the way.

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