Ah, the end of the year. Let’s look back and see if I’ve accomplished my goals.
Goals? What goals?
As I wrote last year at this time, I declared I had no goals for 2013; no goals “other than enjoying life, including the uncertainty of it.”
So how did that work for me? Let’s see:
-First novel published – The Y in Life (Grey Wolfe Publishing)
-First book signing as an author at Purple Tree Books in Cheboygan, MI.
-Short story finalist in 2013 Michigan Bar Journal Short Story Contest
-Two short stories and one essay published in Written in the Mitten 2013 (Heron Bay Books)
-Two short stories published in Legends: Summer 2013 (Grey Wolfe Publishing Anthology)
-Two short stories and one essay published in Legends: Autumn 2013 (Grey Wolfe Publishing Anthology)
-Became a member of Detroit Working Writers
– Won first trial.
– Had numerous cases dismissed, maintaining the innocence of several clients
– Finished the 2012-13 bowling league with my highest average to date.
-Attended every Detroit City FC home match, caught an away match, and attended two Columbus Crew games.
Not a bad year, considering I set forth no goals.
Goals are more of a hindrance to living a happy life than not. In a survey commissioned by Steve Shapiro, 41% of adults agreed that achieving their goals had failed to make them happy, or had left them disillusioned, while 18% said their goals had destroyed a friendship, a marriage, or other significant relationship. Steve Shaprio, Goal-free Living (Hoboken, New Hersey: Wiley, 2006) cited in The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman (Faber and Faber, Inc. 2012).
Seriously. It can’t be said any clearer than this:
The optimism-focused, goal-fixated, positive-thinking approach to happiness is exactly the kind of thing the ego loves. Positive thinking is all about identifying with your thoughts, rather than disidentifying from them. And the ‘cult of optimism’ is all about looking forward to a happy or successful future, thereby reinforcing the message that happiness belongs to some other time than now. Schemes and plans for making things better fuel our dissatisfaction with the only place where happiness can ever be found – the present. ‘The important thing,’ (Eckhart) Tolle told me, ‘is not to be continuously lost in this mental projection away from now. Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then you miss your whole life, which is never not now.’ Another staccato chuckle. ‘And that’s a revelation for some people. To realize that your whole life is only ever now. Many people suddenly realize that they have lived most of their life as if this were not true – as if the opposite were true.’ Without noticing we’re doing it, we treat the future as intrinsically more valuable than the present. And yet the future never seems to arrive. Oliver Burkemann, The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking (Faber and Faber, Inc. 2012) p.116.
I know the goal-setting crowd likes acronyms, and mine for GOALS is Ghosts of Attaining Life Satisfaction. Yeah, it’s a stretch. But to chase these ethereal creatures and to attempt grasping them in order to experience a satisfied life seems to be a waste of energy and focus, and a distraction from the happiness of now.
I will look back on 2013 for the year that it was, reflect on it, savoring its joys and reflecting on its missteps and challenges. But for the future? All I have is now. This time next year I can review what another collection of 365 days of now-moments create.
2014 is uncertain, and I’m satisfied with that uncertainty. It is foolish of me to set a goal, for example, of writing and publishing another novel in 2014. If something happens to alter that goal I’ll have excuses or disappointments to chastise myself with. With no goals I have no quota to meet. I’ll just look back and see what good was created, and be all the happier for it.
And I just might be surprised at how awesome a year it can turn out to be – like 2013 was!