The incredible lightness of the goal-less goal

by | Jan 14, 2014

crayon_target_1-2014Spiritual teachers often talk about the pathless path, the paradox that enlightenment comes when, as Deepak Chopra has written, “a mind overshadowed by fears, hopes, memories, past traumas, and old conditioning finds a way to become free.”

Chopra observes, “The pathless path isn’t a straight line; it doesn’t even lead from point A to point B. The journey takes place entirely in consciousness.”

The notion of the pathless path resonates for me now at the time of the year when we are surrounded by so many exhortations to set goals and strike a path leading to their fulfillment.

Goals are useful templates

Goals are useful means of orienting ourselves around an idea or project so that we can bring it into form. They are templates into which we can pour intention and action for the sake of generating certain outcomes.

But goals are static

Useful as goals or templates can be, they are static. When we adopt them wholesale they deprive our experiences and works of immediacy and originality. They can reduce authentic engagement and organic creation to a paint-by-number imitation of life.

And goals can be lousy measuring sticks

Goals also make lousy measuring sticks. When we become too attached to our goals, we develop tunnel vision. When inspiration, insight, and emerging possibilities fall outside the scope of our goals, we may accomplish lovely things, but criticize ourselves for not being focused, organized, or intentional.

When that happens, goals can lead to, “a mind overshadowed by fears, hopes, memories, past traumas, and old conditioning.”

They can make an otherwise wonderful life look like a marathon that’s being lost.

The incredible lightness of the goal-less goal

We don’t have to live as if our lives are marathons. We don’t have to approach each day as if we are athletes in training.

We get to choose.

As I said at the beginning of this post, goals can be useful templates. Just remember that that’s all they are. They are always made up. Like the pathless path, they exist entirely in consciousness.

This implies that what you do is valuable for its own sake in the moment that you do it, not in the moment that your goal is or is not achieved.

With this understanding, may you set goal-less goals for the year ahead. Instead of leading to “a mind overshadowed by fears, hopes, memories, past traumas, and old conditioning.” may your goal-less goals be a celebration of life and creativity.

May they set you free.

The origins of Shaboom and an invitation to apply for individual coaching

The name of my company, Shaboom, is taken from a tune written and recorded by The Chords in 1954. The refrain, “Life could be a dream” captures the promise and impermanence of dreams. It calls us to be bold, visionary, and creative. It honors intuition and alternate ways of knowing. And it reminds us not to take  ourselves too seriously.

It’s exactly what I want for myself and for my clients. I’m interviewing prospective clients now. To learn more and schedule an exploratory conversation, click here. 

Photo by Alan Neufeld via Flickr