Have you ever asked yourself this question:
“I am doing everything according to the plans to pursue my goals. And I’ve achieved most of them. Why am I still not happy?” I asked this question many times in my 20’s.
I did a lot in my 20’s:
- Graduated with honor from college
- Attended Ivy League and finished grad school
- Got into a top notch IT Company
- Got promoted multiple times
- Bought a lot of houses
- Invested a lot of money
The list goes on and on. But, I felt miserable. I was so miserable that I even thought about life not worth living because of all the stress and the endless work. I didn’t have any friends; I had no time to think about what I liked to do and I absolutely had no hobbies other than digging into the financial books to make more money. After suffering a severe depression a few years ago, I backed down, ditched my goals and started goal-free living.
I no longer try to climb the corporate ladder. I don’t really care if I can get the job done perfectly or not. I do my best and tell my boss the truth if things can’t get done and deal with it. I no longer pursue the perfection in performance, stock market included. At age 30, I finally made a turn and started to search for things that truly excite me. That’s when I picked up my old time passions such as computer graphics and games and some new interests like mountaineering, salsa dancing and blogging.
I can’t explain this. But once I stopped chasing my goals and letting go of some expectations for myself, things start to pick up. I am a much healthier person now (mentally and physically) comparing with a few years ago. And my performance on the job is not necessarily going downhill. I recently took the “stress” test and I found out that I nearly don’t have much stress. Maybe it is because I am living in a “passion-driven” life instead of a “goal-oriented” life? Or is it because that I finally let go of other people’s expectations and live the way that I want to live?
Maybe Stephen Shapiro does have a point. In his new book titled “Goal-Free Living” which comes out the next month, he suggested to take your nifty five-year plan and your lifetime to-do list and throw them out of the window. In his words,
“The key to happiness lies in checking out the detours and back roads.”
Maybe it’s time to ditch the high paying job, grab $13000 and head down to New Zealand and Australia for 8 months like one of my co-workers just did. I don’t know if I am spontaneous enough to make such a move. But I certainly don’t mind trying something new every year… whatever my heart leads me to…