I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions. Well, perhaps I did when I was much younger and still in school — but only because the teacher required us to write a paper about it. At that time, I hated writing anything longer than a simple sentence so that seemingly trivial assignment was pure torture for me and totally nullified whatever happiness I derived from the recently concluded Christmas break.
Perhaps that early trauma turned me off to writing or making new year’s resolutions, but then again, maybe not. I really can’t tell now. What I know though is that I am not a very goal-oriented person. Oh, I try to be, especially when I read about highly successful people I admire — and how committed they were to their vision, but I never found a goal that would drive me relentlessly.
I don’t dream of pricey vehicles nor large mansions. I am happy with inexpensive shirts and jeans. I may splurge occasionally but I don’t feel pressured to always wear top-of-the-line brands. I don’t get people who are obsessed with watches or bags that cost as much as a small car. I’m not really into travel either — except perhaps with the idea of backpacking — but it’s really something I can do without.
Aside from good health and basic needs for my family, give me a laptop, internet, books, the company of a few good friends, and there isn’t really much more I could ask for materially.
My drive doesn’t come so much from a set of targets than it does from enjoying every moment and savoring new experiences.
I recently read an article by James Clear at Entrepreneur.com where he urges people to forget setting goals and instead create systems which will inadvertently lead you to the goal. For example, I’ve always wanted to write a book and I’ve attempted it several times in the past but I’m now 40 years old with still no book to my name. In fact, I don’t think I’ve even completed a single chapter in all these attempts.
But just last year, I came up with an idea to write a weekly column (yes, the one you’re reading right now). Since it was weekly, I had to make a few adjustments to my schedule to allow me time to compose and reflect every week. So I usually write on Wednesdays and submit the finished product on Thursdays. That became a system, a pattern I follow week after week.
I write an average of 700 words per week. That might not seem like much but by this coming February, I would have been writing for a year and would have turned out an average of 40,000 words. Clear says in his article that the average book is 50,000 to 60,000 words.
So without really setting out to write a book, I’ve written almost enough to complete one and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the process and I’m now a total believer of systems.
This is not to say that goal-setting does not work, because I know it works for a lot of people and I’m happy for them that they’ve found something that works for them. But now I’m doubly happy because I’ve found something else that works for people like me. It doesn’t involve a big change or trying to pump up my desires to achieve a goal that I don’t really feel passionate about in the first place. All it takes is tweaking a few things here and there in my daily schedule and letting time and habit run its course.
In the book, Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch, the author asks God, “What is your will? What do you really want me to do?”
God answers, “Nothing. I don’t want you to do anything.”
If you understand that, then you can understand the joy of having no goals and no New Year’s Resolutions.
Originally published in Sunstar Davao.