It should be about Choices not Goals

Previously, I have written about why I was unconvinced with Leo’s philosophy of living without goals and expectations. It was the logic in Leo’s arguments which had a flaw and not the concept. In the light of a new way of looking at the same problem, it seems to me that there may after all be a way to incorporate this way of living without ‘adverse’ consequences.

A Different Perspective

Instead of looking at what you want to do as goals, think about them as choices. For example, instead of considering ‘living a healthy life’ as a goal, treat is as a choice. Or consider ‘writing a book’ a choice not a goal. In doing so, attach value to the whole activity and not the just end point.

It’s a fundamentally different view of we tend to call goals. When we treat something as ‘our choice’, we are able to attach much more value to it. In a liberal society, we value other’s choices because we value our own as much. Even evolution supports giving choices more value because those who are able to make better choices are those who will survive longer.

Goals, on the other hand, don’t seem that personal and thus, less valuable. They seem to be something we conform to.  We should have goals because everyone else has them. We should have goals because that is the only way in which we can achieve great things.

The point I am trying to make is that choosing to do something without it being your ‘goal’ is a much more powerful motivator.

Goals: The Stressful Motivators

The idea of living without goals is scary. We create goals to motivate ourselves to do the work which we deem important. But there is a problem with this kind of motivation, it causes stress.

The stress of not achieving your goals (within the time frame) can motivate you to ‘get on with it’ but that kind of motivation can only last for so long. Where as choosing to do something means that one is doing that only because one derives pleasure from doing it. I think this kind of pleasure is greater than the pleasure of just achieving goals and thus can sustain one to not only complete what they started but also do better work. The pleasure may even help one achieve more than what they would’ve set a goal for.

Philosophically Speaking

Isn’t living without goals a goal in itself?

Unfortunately, the movement of ‘living without goals’ lacks the ability to counter that attack. A better name to this movement would be ‘living only by your choices’. But that’s not controversial enough for it to market well.

People ‘choose’ to live by goals. So what is it that I am claiming people should do that they are not already doing? 

Everyone lives by their own choices, of course. I am arguing for choosing to do something because you like to do it rather than choosing to do something that you do because it’s your goal. Even if people choose goals for the pleasure that they derive on achieving them, it’s a much more powerful motivator if you do something because you derive pleasure in the activity rather than in just finishing it.