What If Your Goals Are A Distraction

It’s that time of year again where everyone is planning and goal setting for 2018.

Yearly goals. Quarterly goals. Monthly goals. Daily goals. SMART goals. Financial goals. Personal goals.

I know. I know! Goals we set are goals we get. I’m an overachieving goal setter.

Every once in awhile, when the fog of goal setting clears, I get an image of a silly hamster running round and round…going nowhere fast. And it hits me. I’m the hamster.

There’s a couple of questions I asked myself this time last year:

1. What if my goals are a distraction?

2. What if my goals aren’t really *my*goals?

3. What would happen if I didn’t make any goals?

Trust me, I hear the sound of nails on a chalk board when I ask myself these questions. I also get slightly nauseous and a little bit anxious.

I’ve been taught so much about setting goals and why goals are so important to get ahead…to succeed.

Where exactly is ahead? What exactly do I need to be ahead of? What was I chasing? And why was it so elusive and vague?

I’ve spent the better part of this year answering my own questions.

I began 2017 without setting any particular goal. I decided to go with the flow and see where I ended up. Not haphazardly. It was a rather purposeful decision. And to be honest, probably the best and most productive decision I’ve made in a long time.

Here’s why:

At the very end of 2016, Rick and I drove to Key West and spent 2 wonderful months there. We rented a house on Rockland Key (mile marker 9) and while we were there, we came to a profound, life altering conclusion…we did not miss our stuff.

We drove down with a small trailer that had our motorcycle, clothes, my yarn and art supplies, and a few kitchen items. We didn’t miss what we left behind.

About half way through our 2 month stay, we made the decision to get rid of our stuff and sell our home.

We put a plan in place. We decided when we wanted to put the house on the market and we worked the calendar backward from there. We had a very short window to make small repairs and clear out the crap that had been sitting in our basement and garage for years.

We also went to Ireland for 10 days and then to Utah for 6 days. When all was said and done, our house went on the market on the Friday before Memorial Day.

Our desire was an offer for full asking price and no contingencies.

2 1/2 days later, we had an offer for full asking price and no contingencies. We gratefully accepted.

Now it was our turn to find a place. Rick and I had what I call a “whiteboard session.” We met for 2 hours in front of my whiteboard wall and wrote down all our MUSTS. Or what we like to call our “non-negotiables.”

We wrote down everything our new place must have. We wrote down every town we’d be willing to relocate to. We wrote down the dollar value we were willing to expend each month. We also wrote down what we wanted to save. We wrote down that we were willing to take out a small mortgage if we *had* to. What we wanted, more than anything, was to be able to pay cash.

After we wrote it all down, we left it there for 2 days. And then I erased it. We didn’t share what we wrote down with anyone.

Within 48 hours of erasing the board, my father sent me a link for a home his agent was about to list. I had goose bumps all over. It was everything we wrote down that was a must, it was in our same town, and we could pay cash for it outright.

The only catch that both of us had to get over in a big hurry was that it’s a double wide in a “garden home” community.

We went from 1600 sq. feet to 1400 square feet. We went from 2 floors to 1. We went from no master bathroom to a gorgeous master bathroom. We went from closed off spaces to a wide open, cathedral ceiling, spacious living area. We went from having a basement and 2 garage (or as my husband says, a very expensive storage unit) to having a parking spot big enough for both our vehicles and right now, a covered motorcycle.

We went from $1710 a month in living expenses (mortgage + condo fee) to $510 in lot rent. We’re pocketing $1200 a month because we have no mortgage. We have a 6.5 year ROI on our home.

Part of our Key West plan also included buying an RV so we could spend the winter in 2018 at the naval base, where military retirees and active duty can stay for $14 per day. We’re pushing this part off a year so we can finish remodeling our new place.

We’ve been nesting in our new place since August 1, 2017.

I honestly don’t think we’d be here if I had set goals the way I have all my adult life. This is where going with the flow took us. Awareness, being present, noticing, witnessing without judgment led us to a life transforming change.

Goal setting, the way I had been goal setting my whole life, turned out to be my biggest distraction from my Heart’s deepest desires. Goal setting kept me trapped on the hamster wheel, chasing after success and tilting at windmills.

In fact, goal setting kept my long time desire for financial freedom just out of reach.

I got out of my own way long enough for the Universe to work her magic.

Nobody owns us anymore. Not my job. Not our mortgage lender. Nobody.

Going into 2018, I’m not setting any goals or making New Year’s resolutions. I’m going with the flow again and I’m excited to see what shows up.

What about you? How are you approaching the New Year?

Author: Peggy Nolan

Writer. Quote Junkie. Photographer. Yogini. Black Belt.

17 thoughts on “What If Your Goals Are A Distraction”

  1. Appreciated reading the entire, inspiring story, Peggy! There’s so much wisdom in your post that I will take to heart. For me, it’s not the choice between goal setting or no goal setting. As a Libra, I’m compelled to do both in a balanced way of living: set goals but don’t become a maniac if they’re not met and also allow for the flow and magic of the Universe’s flow to appear. Finally, I’m so happy for you all that this year has been all that your heart desired! Merry Christmas to you and yours, Peggy.

    1. Thank you so much Lore! I’ll probably be writing more about goals and the old mindset I had that kept me in the crazy Go-round. even for me, the words to adequately describe my experiment with not setting goals is still trapped in an old mindset that we collectively share.

  2. I love this blog Peggy and reading about your experience! It is so inspiring that you allowed your experience to unfold organically and yet guided it with your clear and empowered intentions. I agree that, “Awareness, being present, noticing, witnessing without judgment led us to a life transforming change.” I am looking forward to following my awareness, intention and inspired action to cultivate more peace and joy in the New Year!

  3. I know I’ve told you before how that Key West trip changed your life! I’ve enjoyed watching your transformation. I do have to say, though, that you did set goals. You took out a calendar and reverse engineered your house-selling plans – and met your milestones. I think what’s important to take away from your blog post is that you need to settle your mind, give yourself a goal-setting break (so to speak) so that your true goals can shine through. I hope it’s okay to say this! =) I loved this article!

  4. WOW!! Just WOW!! I loved this! Being present without judgement leads to transformation. I resonated with everything you are saying and this is the type of existence I desire as well…..How to be in the flow and recognize that vs. the goals we have and how they may be getting in the way. Thank you so much for this….truly blessed my day.

  5. What a great story! Thank you for sharing it.
    At the end of the year I love to create my artistic “Catching The Dreams” Visions Board for the following year and allow the Universe to fulfill them through mystical ways other than write down structured requests.
    I feel my heart and deepest desires will be more connected with the Universe and will be answered more quickly.

  6. Brilliant Peggy, I am so happy to witness your many inspiring transformations. I do think of what you were doing (writing the specifics of the home you wanted, downsizing, financial freedom, traveling) as goals but you did them very differently. They came from your heart. They reflected what you truly desired. They were deep and meaningful to you. You let go of your detachment and allowed them to happen instead of pushed them into being. Truly inspirational!

    1. I realized that as I was writing this that others would see some of what transpired in my life as goals. It’s so ingrained in us to see taking inspired action as goal setting. Even me. Even now I catch myself shaking my head because i turned goal setting on its head. It’s weird. And I don’t have the words to explain it accurately because my words are still steeped in a mindset I cultivated and grew for years. We all have. I see what we did as inspired action because really, who sells their home to move into a double wide when everyone thinks the dream is to heavily mortgaged?

  7. I love this story! It shows the power of letting go and letting The Universe do it’s thing. I stopped setting goals years ago. Now in the new year I only make a few promises to myself: be kind, be loving, serve others, and stay open for signs and messages. Other than that, just go with the flow and enjoy your life.

  8. Hi Peggy, I love this post! My partner and I did something similar to you and Rick the past year. We rented after selling our home and downsizing to one-quarter of the square footage. 3 weeks ago we moved into our new townhome that we paid cash for and got for less than we budgeted and we now have over 1300 square feet, compared to the place we rented that was about 850 square feet! Alan was headhunted 1.5 years ago and since then magical things have occurred. I agree that it’s important to get clear on what you want and to put it out there; however setting goals and sticking to them without being open to possibility, doesn’t leave room for some of the Universe’s magical moments. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  9. I love how going with the flow has transformed your life Peggy! Just wow!
    For me I started 2017 with the intention of Carpe Diem. So present moment was all I wanted to focus on, purposefully. It was hard. And I fell off the wagon with old planning into future habits way too many times. But I came back up again and again and again. This Carpe diem attitude helped me to get healthy, start a daily yoga practice and become totally me again. No more facades, no more layers, no more what others want. All me, all raw all the time. And its freeing as *^&%&! 🙂
    thank you for sharing your amazing year Peggy. So inspiring.
    May 2018 be even more awesome!
    xoxo, Z~

  10. Wow. Wow. Wow.

    I know I had a ringside seat but, it sure feels wonderful to relive that journey with you. Not long ago, a friend and I had a discussion about being *very* careful when setting goals — because once set, we achieved them (or almost died trying). For reasons (that you’re familiar with) I’ve had to give that up and go with the flow. The result has been a kinder, gentler life and, much to my surprise? Far less aimless drifting than I originally feared.


  11. WordPress ate my first comment. I love love love your story and your process. I was just told by an astrologer friend that I must follow my intuition to stay in flow and be aligned. You are such a good role model for this. I was telling Des about your story and reminded him of when you decided to give up coaching etc- and he remembered. I think i need a whiteboard wall and I love this I got out of my own way long enough for the Universe to work her magic. Interesting how goals keep us away from our financial freedom. I am going with the flow in 2018. I started to in about June this year and then somehow FOMO drew me away and I went down a rabbit hole and just resurfaced. I am now back in flow and enjoying some holiday time and that will help me be in true flow for 2018 xxoo

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