No More Goals

…or How to Get What You Want without Being Annoying or smacking yourself in the face.

Let us start this whole caboodle with the following statement: I hate goals. I have attended seminars and read books about success, and they all — invariably — have a goal-setting chapter. Hell, sometimes the whole thing is about goal-setting.

It’s awful and immoral and let me tell you why: it doesn’t work.

I appreciate that some folks may have success with this nonsense, but my guess is that you picked up this little pamphlet because something in the title rings true. 

Here is how it supposed to work: 

  1. Set a goal — a “dream-with-a-dealine” — that is feasible but just out of reach. Something that will push you but which you can reasonably attain.
  2. Set small daily tasks that will help you move gradually toward this goal.
  3. Achieve goal.
  4. Feel amazing.
  5. Go back to one.

Here is what actually happens:

  1. Set a goal. 
  2. Come up with small daily tasks, only about half of which actually happen… or all of which happen, but only every few days, not every day (you’re busy, goddamn it).
  3. Feel like a failure.
  4. Try to get back on track. Re-inspire yourself toward the goal.
  5. Deadline comes. Goal isn’t achieved.
  6. Feel like a failure.
  7. Spend a month trying NOT to feel like a failure and start all over firm in the knowledge that this time will be different.
  8. It’s not different, and you wind up right back here at #6.

Now let me say this: I am a very happy, upbeat person. I am not someone who complains a lot about a lot of things. I am, however, someone who rarely succeeds at the goals I set when I follow the formula set front by most of the self-help gurus I’ve ever encountered. (I’m very happy for you Tony Robbins. You’re living proof of one thing: it works FOR YOU. Especially when one of your goals is to sell more books and give more seminars by getting us to pay you teach us how to fall short.)

What I propose, and what this journal will seek to prove (or disprove), is this: LIVE THE JOURNEY AS THOUGH YOU’VE ALREADY REACHED THE DESTINATION. 

Let me explain: This is not wishful thinking or being delusional. I don’t mean to convince yourself that you already have that extra money in the bank, the promotion or the spouse. I mean simply to reflect on what you think will be different when you have those things. 

Let’s be clear about another thing: if one of your goals is to be more financially successful, do NOT — I repeat: DO NOT — start spending money you don’t have or running up credit card bills. It doesn’t work.

What I mean is: what would feel different if you had that extra cash in the bank? How would it change your outlook?

TIME TO GET PERSONAL. The only thing I really am dissatisfied with in my life is my career. I am not where I want to be. I have spent more than half my life training as a singer and an actor, and I have yet to achieve my fairly specific career goals (namely to star in a Broadway musical). 

When I sit down and think about how my behavior would be different if I were currently taking the final bow in a fabulous musical (for which there is a lot of Tony® buzz), here is what I come up with:

  • I would be performing EVERY day.
  •  I’d be more confident in auditions.
  • I’d be less afraid of failing in general because I wouldn’t have anything to prove.
  • I would be proud when I tell people “I’m an actor” — instead of just a little embarrassed.
  • I would teach from a place of experience and true expertise

So why am I not doing these things now? 

The following is my adventure in living “as if.” 

Let’s see how it goes.

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