A Purposeless-Driven Life?

Are your goals and striving for purpose serving only to make you unhappy?

Does your life have purpose? Are you meeting your goals? These are two of the cornerstone questions for many people desiring to better themselves. And now, it seems, there are those who want to take this all away from you! If you observe the worlds of personal development and self-improvement long enough, you’ll notice there can be a definite “trendiness” to things. A couple of years ago, everyone was talking about mindmaps , the GTD method seems to enjoy cyclical resurgences, and over the last year or so there seems to have been a lot of interest in addictive behaviors. I personally always try to snag whatever I can that is of use from these trends, and stick to principles that are more time-tested. So it with some amusement that over the weekend I ran across a slew of articles about how focusing on purpose and goals can make you unhappy. It may have just been the mythical Baader Meinhoff phenomena at work, but I think we’re seeing a little trend passing through the self-help world, and it’s all about gettting rid of goals and not worrying about purpose. Let me help you get off your purpose for a moment with some links.

The first items I ran across where from this Psychology Today feature with the grandiose theme of  Why Are We Here? It’s a collection of articles related to The Big Question. One of the featured pieces was Are Purposeless People Happier?, which is part of a series that began with The Purpose of Purposelessness. The articles really aren’t about sacrificing all sense of purpose, but are rather more about making the purpose the present. While the author could’ve just said so, that wouldn’t generate many page views, now would it! Ultimately it was worth a read; they touched on something Nick talked about recently, which was concepts related to flow and the ideas of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi . Over on ZenHabits, there was a piece called 100 Days with No Goals, which struck me as an interesting pursuit, if you have someplace to crash so you can really explore it. But what might seem more practical to me is asking if your goals are even your own. The old “shoulda coulda woulda” trap seems to affect more success-minded people than “regular” people.

I hope I’ve derailed your time enough to get off task, because for me, although most of these ideas are too far off-balance to be singularly effective, what DOES work for me is occasionally questioning it all, or giving up all pretense of control for a time. And what better way to do that than browsing a bunch of links about purposelessness and abandoning goals? HAVE FUN.

About Ian

Ian is a media consultant, writer, musician, and budding public speaker with an eye on being the next Ellen. Ian's interest in helping others find success and happiness stems from his experience with events planning and media consulting with organizations like Interfluence.com and the Kenya/US NGO Amara Conservation from 2000-2008, which taught him how little we all know about what we're really doing. From 2008 until April of 2011, Ian wrote for and maintained the site DissociatedPress.com. Ian learned long ago that the journey to success may take occasional detours, and often eschews the road map in favor of taking in life's scenery. His first business venture was a small telecom company in the late 1980's, but subsequent ventures included pursuing a pop music career, screenwriting, and the foodservice and retail employment that often follows such pursuits. After struggling with addiction for years, Ian is happily embracing recovery and the clarity it brings.