Why I’m not setting goals this year (and what I’m doing instead)

Hey everyone!

I know, I know. If you’re a regular reader you might have noticed that I usually set a bunch of goals for myself in January and then spend the year checking them off one by one.

But this post is going to be different from usual because for 2022, I’m not setting any goals at all! For the first time in years, it feels like there is space in my life for things to organically happen without me trying so hard to make them happen.

It’s time to let go of wanting to control everything in my life, and instead take a back seat and go with the flow a little bit more.

I’ve always felt like I need to set goals for my life because otherwise I fear that nothing will happen or that I won’t accomplish anything meaningful. But in reality, I have a strong feeling that trusting myself will always lead me to the right things — whether they’re concrete goals or not.

Last year I went through a period of intense uncertainty and self-reflection, and it’s taken me a while to shift back into trusting that everything is supposed to happen exactly as it happens.

There were two key things last year that helped me to learn to trust myself again.

The first is that I spent one month revisiting Out of the Box, the online course by Rudá Iandê. I first took Out of the Box three years when it was first launched. But last year Rudá fully updated the materials. It was a great time for me to go back into Out of the Box because it’s all about helping people to be comfortable with uncertainty and the chaos of life to then completely reframe their reality.

The second thing I did was to help Jeanette Brown produce her first online course, Life Journal. This is a 30-day process for becoming your own life-coach. There are many exercises for finding a source of calm within, strengthening your inner-self, and realigning goals so you can achieve your underlying dreams in life.

Both of these courses gave me the tools to really trust myself again. I spent significant time last year aligning my goals with my deeper values, dreams and purpose in life.

Now that my goals are clear, I feel like I’m able to let go and trust myself much more.

So this year, instead of setting goals for myself, I’m going to focus on the following ten areas of growth:

1) Spending more time in nature.

If we don’t get out into nature and reconnect with the rhythms of the earth every day, we lose our connection to the world around us. Our minds get pulled into our phones and we miss the beauty of what’s around us.

I’ve made a pact with one of my best friends to spend at least 20 minutes every day in nature — whether it be in my garden or on a walk outside with my dog, I’m going to ensure that I have time every day to be in nature and connect with myself.

2) Defining my life by experiences rather than things.

When I truly love to do something, then I’ll do it not just for the end result but for the process of it along the way. Experiences are so much more fulfilling than meeting a goal because they’re open-ended and connected to all sorts of other things that make life interesting.

3) Taking more time off.

I’ve been asked to get involved with many new projects, but I’ve also decided to take a break because last year I struggled with a case of severe burnout. So instead of trying to work too hard, I’m going to focus on taking more time off and doing things that make me happy while still being driven by my personal interests and goals.

This will mean spending less time in front of the laptop, being more mindful of my relationships, and being more creative with how I spend my time.

4) Changing my diet and exercise habits.

For a long time I’ve eaten a lot of meat. Not only is this bad for the environment, but it also makes me feel very sluggish and unhealthy. I’m aiming to eat less meat and more natural foods again (lots of vegetables, fruit, nuts, and seeds) because this will help me slow down my life so I can feel more energised again instead of constantly drained by things like caffeine.

5) Learning to say “no” more often.

I love setting goals, but the truth is that I am very impatient. Instead of being ambitious and saying “yes” to everything that seems interesting, I should aim to be more selective and say “no” more often.

It’s common for people to start out with a lot of projects and ideas and then end up doing nothing. Trusting that everything happens as it’s supposed to, instead of over-doing things, will help to bring balance back into my life.

6) Creating more time for other people.

One of the most important things I’ve learnt over the last few years is how important family and close friends are. I spend a lot of time working, which means I don’t get much opportunity to spend time with them. So for this year I’m going to take more time off and prioritise spending time with my friends and family.

7) Being more mindful of my own thoughts.

I often think things that aren’t true about myself, or that I say to myself that are untrue. For example, I might be going through a period of feeling very stressed and overwhelmed, and then think that I’m always going to feel this way. But once I catch these thoughts and challenge them, then I feel free again.

By being more mindful about my own thoughts, I can also become more disciplined about the advice that I give to other people.

8) Becoming more compassionate.

For a long time I’ve been harsh and judgemental towards other people for many things that aren’t even their fault. However, this has been draining my energy. Instead of judging people, I should become more compassionate and accept that there are many different ways to interpret life and that these interpretations may be different for other people.

9) Trying new things out of interest.

For a long time I’ve had this idea that I need to make a lot of money to be happy, which has made me feel very stressed about money and held me back from doing many things in my life. I’ve decided to put my faith in the universe again and to trust that there are already many things happening in my life that are making me happy.

10) Trusting myself more.

Yes, I know this seems like a crazy thing to do at the age of 40, but just like I did as a child when I trusted myself, I’m going to exert that trust again. I’m going to begin giving myself over to the process of life again.

I don’t know exactly what will happen, but I know all of this is right for me at this time in my life. Sometimes the only way to truly be free is to let go of everything else first.

If you want to learn more about Rudá Iandê’s online course, Out of the Box, check it out here.

Jeanette Brown’s online course, Life Journal, is more of an entry-level course and a bit shorter in length. It works well if you want to align your goals with your values. Learn more here.

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Justin Brown

I'm Justin Brown, the founder of Ideapod. I've overseen the evolution of Ideapod from a social network for ideas into a publishing and education platform with millions of monthly readers and multiple products helping people to think critically, see issues clearly and engage with the world responsibly.

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