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Going from Goals to No Goals

On Spiritual Technology

Leo Babuta recently blogged about Achieving Without Goals reminding me of the discussion he had with Tim Ferris (Tim Ferriss vs. Leo Babauta Showdown: On Whether Goals Suck) with Tim playing the pro-goal devil's advocate. I believe, and as they touch on in the discussion, that this is a false dichotomy. 

Leo's post reignited my own internal debate on this subject. On the one hand, I am very satisfied and feel productive when I spend my day on a self-imposed schedule consisting of daily habits and goals. On the other hand, the idea of wandering, being open and of following my intuition and inspiration very much appeals to me and is my ideal lifestyle. 

The downside of the structured, goal-oriented route, is that I very rarely can achieve all that I plan to do and when I am not on my schedule (which is most of the time) I feel frustrated and dissatisfied. The downside of unstructured wandering is that you may succumb to passive entertainments and default routines rather than remain in a spirit of curiosity and openness.

Of course, neither path is the "right" path, as implicit in Tim and Leo's discussion. They both rely on aspects of the opposing approach to balance their main approach. Leo, for example, uses guiding principles or values as a loose structure in his goal-less approach.

What is largely missing from this discussion, and ironically most self-development approaches, is the recognition that approaches should change and develop progressively. You can play a guitar solo without any training (unstructured approach), but your range of expression with be quite limited. However, after much practice (structured approach), the expressiveness of your solo will be much greater. The structured foundation of practice supports and enriches the unstructured expression.

What I would like to work on in the Sea Change Beta Program

On The Weak Scorpion


As I wrote in my first posting, I've gone through enough habit formation to realize that I need in place a "macrohabit" of structuring my habits, and my daily routines, in a way that push me toward success in my habits and help me avoid the temptations and pitfalls that will usually push me off the train of good habit formation. Basically, my macrohabits are structured routines for morning and evening to ensure that I start the day right, ticking off all the boxes and microhabits I want to engage in, and for the evening, to ensure that I really finish the day and don't stay up for hours reading or consuming mindless entertainment. In both cases, the idea is for the first few steps in the habit to trigger the rest of the behavior, to make performing specific microhabits a routine.

From Sea Change Beta, I'm hoping for a useful community to help me work on the macrohabits. A social accountability mechanism. But also advice on how to hack the ways in which those tend to fail, and how to also reinforce the habit of getting back on the train.


A second problem space I want to keep playing with concerns the question of self-compassion and perfectionism addressed by Leo this month in the main Sea Change program. What Leo recently posted on perfectionism spoke to me, I won't rehash the substance here. I realize, also, that while every perfectionist may be miserable in his own special way (I have my specific psychological hangups and narratives of perfectionism, as does everyone else), we may all look alike in our imperfectionism.

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