What Really Happened With A Year Of No Goals

The other side of the story…


I set ZERO goals for 2012 and shared the why and what happened HERE.

At first sight, it looks like I still had a great year and came out on top.

I wrote that article with every intent of defending a “No Goals” approach to life.

And then I looked closer.

Most of my “accomplishments” happened in the first half of the year, and though they were not specific goals that I had set, they were in direct momentum of living a goal oriented life for so many years before.

Working towards a goal we set ourselves, often brings unseen opportunities that only come as we progress further down our path.

My first half of 2012 allowed me to reap the benefits of hard work and goals that had already been in place for a long time.


The second half of the year was very different than the first.

I spent a lot of time feeling lost.

It’s no wonder that I took so many classes, because in essence I was searching for direction.

Feeling lost also encouraged feelings of discontent. Did I want to even keep my business? Was I on the right path? Does this bring me joy?


I finally found direction again a few weeks ago and it has been so exhilarating to feel like I have a purpose!

It’s as if someone handed me a map with a landmark to work towards and it has made all the difference in the world!


The argument for NOT having goals–was that it keeps us more present minded. It opens our view to be able to notice other things around us and engage in opportunities we would otherwise ignore.


After testing this theory I can say two things:

1. It’s good to be flexible. I learned I didn’t have to finish every project and to pay more attention to other opportunities on the sidelines.

2. Goals are essential for survival.


As the Cheshire Cat reminded Alice, in Alice in Wonderland, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any path will take you there.”

But not every path is worth our time or focus.

Tis better to have your landmark on your map with the option of taking detours as long as you still know where you’re going.


I’ll be setting goals for 2013, but with new guidelines:

Here’s my top 3 tips for effective goal setting:

1. Set goals for the right reason.

Before I set a goal it needs to pass the motivation test. Why do I really want to accomplish that goal? If it has anything to do with fulfilling other people’s expectations, or because it simply sounds impressive, it won’t make the list. Goals are most powerful when there is an intrinsic sincere intent behind them.

2. Consider your feelings. (MOST IMPORTANT TIP!)

Instead of asking yourself “What do I want to DO this year?”, it can be quite revealing to ask “How do I want to FEEL this year?”.  Goals or plans that may have otherwise gone unconsidered will surface and likely turn out to be some of the most important goals of all. Oh yes…and it can also reveal which goals already set shouldn’t really be there because they contradict how you want to feel!

3. Be Flexible.

The best thing I learned from a year of no goals was that I could be open to change. Some goals aren’t necessarily meant to be finished as much as they are meant to set you off in a direction that may lead to another fork in the road. Being open to changing paths has not been comfortable for me in the past and that unfinished goal would loom as a big sign of failure. I don’t see it that way any longer, and for that–I think my life will forever be more exciting and full of more possibility.

What is the most important guideline for your own goal setting? I’d love to hear! I’ll be responding to this conversation for the next 24 hours and would love to hear what you have to say!

4 Responses

  1. Yesterday when you said I’d be surprised by which one you were converted to…I kept wondering which one it was because I was relieved to hear that maybe I didn’t have to worry about goals! Obviously, I guessed wrong! So many good things have come from this year for you. I was really thinking that no goals was the way to go. You’ve made some great points here though.

    The one I like best is about deciding how we want to FEEL. That has been so key for me lately and so easy to forget. Why we do something and how we feel when we’re doing it is so important.

    Thank you, Brooke!

    1. Yes, I was convinced no goals was going to be the answer too 🙂 It does sound relieving doesn’t it??? To not have to set anymore goals and just take life as it comes?

      But perhaps realizing why we feel “relief” at not setting goals lies a key to goal setting. That’s why I love the idea of setting goals according to how we want to FEEL. If we’re working towards goals that bring happiness or make us FEEL how we want to, goals won’t have the discomfort that they often carry.

      Wouldn’t it be awesome to be excited about goals and love them because of what they do for us? If they don’t do that already, then it’s time to reassess or change our perception of what we are really working toward. Soemtimes even a small change in language of our goal can make a world of difference….

      for example,

      “Don’t eat Sugar anymore!” focuses on the negative and a mindset of scarcity.

      “Find fulfillment in yummy fruits and veggies” focuses on the positive and sets a mindset of abundance.

      Both are working towards a similar end, but one is far more likely to bring results and carry a “Can do it!” attitude.

  2. ohhhh – I love this, and I am so happy that you have found out what works for you!!!
    I definitely do agree that goals should be based more around feelings rather than things and possessions and fame/ fortune. But I also have been feeling VERY lost this year and I am still not quite at the point of explaining the solution that works for me. But thank you SO much for sharing!!!

    1. You bring up an interesting point Renee…

      having been lost myself this year, I wonder if I would have really felt purpose if I had had goals in place…seeing as the goals that I would have set wouldn’t have been in harmony with where I’m going now.

      That’s why I love the idea of setting goals around feelings.

      But I think those moments in our life where we are wandering are some of the most priceless times of all. It means something new is coming and we get to have part in creating it. Learning to recognize those feelings of discontent as little clues for direction can lead to some amazing discoveries. I can’t wait to see where you start heading after your own period of questioning 🙂

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