Do You Need Goals to be Successful?

January 1, 2015 27 Comments »

abandoned office

Goals, what goals? I can barely find my desk!

She looks at me inquisitively and asks, “So what is you overall goal with this?” referring to my blogging, freelancing, social media channels at Ottsworld.

I look at her trying to keep my face from indicating just how uneasy this question makes me and time seems to slow down for a moment. I feel myself spiraling deep down into darkness, sounds seems muffled and warbled around me as if the whole world has turned into Charlie Brown’s teacher. The only noise that makes sense to me is this booming echo, “What is my goal, what is my goal – goal, goal, goal, g-o-a-l, goal?” reverberating off my brain.

I smile, look into her eyes, and let out a little coy laugh and slowly say, “I have no fucking idea.”

I’d like to say my response was delivered proudly and confidently, but it never feels that way. Internal doubt and worry is the normal outcome of that question. We are led to believe that in order to be successful in life you have to have goals.  So if I don’t have any, what does this say about me?  Her question left me wondering what had happened to me over that last 8 years…after all I used to be plugged into that whole Kool-Aid drinking goal community. Working in corporate jobs with my Type A personality was the perfect breeding ground for creating goals. What has happened to me, I used to be a goal person – didn’t I?

But upon thinking about that a little more I realize that I masqueraded as a goal person even back then. I lived in a goal person’s world and held down a goal person’s job. I did reviews and talked to my employees about goals annually. I did this because this is what we should do in life – we need goals – don’t we? If we didn’t have goals we might turn into a bunch of sheep wandering aimlessly.  However, most every move I ever made in my career and life weren’t about achieving a life long goal – it was merely something that presented itself to me and it looked interesting and new so I went in that direction – with gusto and a don’t look back attitude.

Living Defensively

More often than not, I don’t set goals and achieve them – instead I set anti goals…things that I don’t want to do or be like and then I steer myself away from those things and ultimate in a direction somewhere else. It’s weird – but I think this is how I have lived my whole life. My life choices are more about what I don’t want to happen rather than what I do want to happen. My father calls it living defensively. For some reason I have an easier time figuring out what I don’t want rather than what I want. Does anyone else have this problem?

location independent office

My goal is to have more days like this in 2015…

Short Term Views

Over the last 8 years of nomadic living my whole life view has switched from long term to short term. I live my life in the very short term. I don’t even know where I’m going to be sleeping in a week or where I’ll even be. I rarely have long-term thoughts. When it comes to Ottsworld and blogging, I have an editorial calendar and sort of know what I’ll be writing about in January, and I have a list of things I want to get done. But that’s about as far as it goes. I have vague ideas that I’d like to do more public speaking next year, I want to redesign my site (coming soon!), I really want to finish my children’s book, do an ebook on local travel, and maybe even create on online video class on career breaks next year. I will work towards those things – but I’m not really sure what my end game is for them. I kind of just want to try it to see what happens. As for the rest of the year or a 5 year plan – I really have no idea.

2014 Successes and Disappointments

So far I’ve been surviving without blogging or personal goals. But the question is would I be more successful if I had goals for Ottsworld?  I did have a lot of successes in 2014 – I taught for two weeks at Iolani School in Hawaii, Charlie and I raised $16,000 for charity: water, I said ‘no’ to sponsored posts and instead made up that income in doing more freelance writing, I spoke at TBEX, I taught at Bloghouse, I took another Niece on a Niece Project trip that included volunteering, I held a large Meet Plan Go event in NYC, I worked on my surfing, and I had a lot of fun along the way.  However on the negative side I still don’t make enough income to have a home base, I never got my blog redesign completed, I didn’t finish my children’s book, I continue to have trouble balancing friendships and relationships in this nomadic lifestyle, I am generally disappointed in myself most days, and my romantic relationship has been a rollercoaster of emotions that generally has me feeling worse about myself than better.

I read how other freelancers and bloggers do these great year end reviews for themselves and go through a goal setting process each year, and it confuses me. The type A Sherry feels like she ‘should’ be doing that too as everyone knows that you never achieve things without well thought out goals and learning from your past – everyone who is successful has goals after all. Maybe not having goals is holding me back?

And then the thought of having goals and going through some process to determine and track them also makes me want to vomit. My life if constantly changing, I never know what or who I will encounter next that may open up new opportunities and doors obliterating my defined goals (if I had them).  And most importantly (and stupidly) – I hate doing what everyone else is doing.

goal quote

Instead of business or life goals, I have a growing list of life desires – I suppose some would call these ‘wishes’. There’s no formal process of setting them or measuring my progress towards them. I’m not driven to do them necessarily – but they are always in the back of my mind – sort of nagging me…

I want to write more openly and care less about being perfect, I want to use the word ‘fuck’ more in my writing, I would like to make sure that I do one philanthropic project a year, I would like to dance like they do on Dancing with the Stars, I would like to live life with wreckless abandon, I would like to be more caring and compassionate, I would like to be less petty, I would like to do more yoga, I want to participate in the Moth once and do live storytelling, I would like to have a man love me and make me feel like everything was going to be alright, I would like to love a man shamelessly, I would like to somehow convey to my dearest friends how much I love and depend on them for sanity, I would like to start running regularly again, I would like to have some way to make passive income, I would like to learn how to do night photography better, I would like to have a home base with a closet and a place to put my toothbrush permanently, I would like to be surrounded by people with passion, I would like to smile more and cry less.

…and the ‘wish’ list goes on…

And maybe I’ll never achieve these desires or my other business hopes if I don’t have well defined goals, a way to measure them, and hold myself accountable – I don’t really know.  Maybe I’ll give Chris’s annual review and goal setting process a try this year – I suppose it can’t hurt.

But back to the original question, she asked me what my goal was with Ottsworld, and in true anti-goal form, all I really know is that I don’t want Ottsworld and this flexible lifestyle to end and I’d like to keep going, traveling, writing, and most of all inspiring others to travel more, travel deeper, and do things they love.

Goals by committee…do you have any suggestions on things you’d like to see here on Ottsworld? Let me know!

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