zenhabits : breathe

How to Have the Best Year of Your Life (without Setting a Single Goal)

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Jeff Goins of Goins, Writer.

This new year, do something different: stop setting goals.

If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results, then making resolutions for another year is a sure-fire way to drive yourself crazy. I did it for years, and it got me nothing.

Resolutions are pipe dreams, and goals are a waste of time. They are designed to trick you into believing all you need to change your life is a plan.

But plans don’t work. Life is too chaotic and busy. For most of us, it’s impossible to stick to a list of goals for more than a few weeks, not to mention an entire year.

So how do you change your life? By controlling what you can: your daily habits.

The Pointlessness of Plans

Most good things happen without a plan: friendships, falling in love, finding a job, and so on. If you want to make your new year count, you’ll need to be intentional — not by setting goals, but by making space in your life for what really matters.

This was how I was able to get into shape, launch a blog, train for a half-marathon, get a book deal, and keep my day job this year — while loving every minute of it.

Most productivity systems focus on beginning with the “end in mind” and setting goals to get there. Many are based on the assumption that in order to get what you want later, you have to give up what you want now. You work the plan, endure pain, and win.

But this is not the only path you can take.

I just finished one of the best years of my life, and most of it was completely unplanned. How did I do it? By creating new disciplines I actually liked doing. I wasn’t only fixated on the end results; I also enjoyed the process.

This is the secret to a healthy, productive life and to making an impact on the world. Create good, sustainable habits that you enjoy, and you’ll end up with a life you can be proud of.

Instead of Goals

There is an alternative to setting goals that will bring you closer to the life you want. Focus on a few practices you can enjoy doing on a regular basis. The trick here is consistency. These four helped me:

After a year of doing these things, I ended up with a life I couldn’t have imagined or planned for. And I had a blast doing it. So I’m going to do it all over again, without setting a single goal.

The best year of your life is within reach — if you are willing to give up on the craziness of plans and instead focus on creating new habits. The first step is to begin.

Read more from Jeff at his blog, Goins, Writer, or get his free eBook The Writer’s Manifesto.



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