I see them come in every day to the bar. They are all like greyhounds chasing a fake rabbit around a track. They are on a track chasing a goal they’ve been told they should want. They set goals, hit benchmarks, and achieve things. We are taught this concept at an early age, and then it is reinforced by a whole industry dedicated to teaching and perpetuating that across almost every business.
That approach did not work for me. That is not quite accurate. That approach might have worked if I had been setting goals that I wanted to accomplish and not the ones I was told I should accomplish. After a series of not quite failing but not getting what I believed I wanted and going broke, I had to find another way for me to be content.
I was flailing and working at a job I knew I could do in my sleep that had no real future for me. I found website zenhabits.net. The author, Leo Babauta, had a similar story as I did in not finding happiness in the traditional goal setting manner, so along with deepening his Zen Buddhist practice, he became a proponent of living a goalless life.
The first blog post I read from was to imagine the perfect day. The day where you are living your life the way you want to. What are you doing and who are you with from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep. From that, you know what you should be doing every day. If you start doing the things you saw in that vision right now, you will begin to live the life you want and begin reaping the things you need for a content life.
After I started that, I then started reading more about Zen Buddhism and found another concept that has shaped how my life has moved. It goes hand in hand with the goalless life and it is the idea of doing the thing to do the thing. You dig a hole and fill it up. Why? To dig a hole and fill it up. Zen meditation isn’t about achieving enlightenment, it is about sitting and breathing.
This appealed to me because it had been my experience in life. The times I tried to do X solely to accomplish Z, I failed. The times I did X for the sake of doing X and did it to the best of my abilities I found I gained much more then I could ever have imagined. I did X and I still accomplished Z. No expectations and no goals work for me.
This Christmas season I had lost the idea of no expectations and no goals. I forgot that doing the thing, to do the thing was how I have made the life I’ve made. I have lost a lot of weight in the last year, and part of that was because of running every day. Somewhere in the last two weeks of dinners, weird work hours, going out with friends, etc. I lost the idea of running to run and running began to take on the weight of losing weight. I forgot that I ran because I like it and it is fun. By thinking about it as solely a way to lose weight it took on too much and I couldn’t make myself run for the last week. The same thing happened with my mediation and my writing. I sit and just breath to sit and breath. I write because I like writing. The outcomes of any of those actions are uncontrollable. You can only control the things you do and not really what they accomplish and certainly not how others react to it.
So, why do I write? I write because I like it and I write about beer because the things around the American craft beer market are interesting and ever-changing.
Living with no goals and no expectations works for me. I think, my life will see great changes over the next year. However, I don’t expect it. I am simply going to keep running, keep meditating, keep writing. I know if I do those things every day, I will get the things in my life I need.