If common sense was common
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A minimalist guide to goal-setting


For about twenty years, my New Year resolutions have included "get fit" and "save money".

While there have been times that I've been pretty fit, and times when I've had savings, the fact that they keep popping up shows that I might not be that good at setting goals.

I used to think that the reasons were threefold:

1) They're too vague

What exactly does "get fit" mean? How should I go about saving money and how much do I want to save?

2) They don't really mean that much to me

Of course being healthy - both physically and financially - is a wonderful thing. But so is  sitting down and reading a book while eating cake. Maybe I'm just not the kind of person who's meant to be super-fit and wealthy.

3) They weren't measurable

Because they were too vague (or so I thought), there wasn't really a way to know if I'd been successful or not.


Setting goals as a minimalist

As I tend to be minimalist in most areas of my life, I thought I'd try it for setting goals.

After a bit of thought, I narrowed it down to just one rule:

Don't set goals

Instead of setting goals on a whim, I'm setting about improving my life overall.

In only a matter of months, this has led to:

  • Getting a job I really enjoy
  • Considerably improving my financial situation
  • Becoming much happier and more relaxed
  • Working on projects that energize and inspire me
  • Spending more time with my family
  • Finishing projects I truly enjoy and discarding the ones I don't
  • Eating much healthier food
  • Sleeping better

As my foot heals from the fracture I suffered a while back, I'll soon add doing more exercise to that list because I'm itching to run and cycle again.


Making choices rather than setting goals

I still have goals, only now I see them more as choices.

Instead of making it a goal to save more money, I choose not buying things I don't need, taking a packed lunch instead of eating out, and so on.

Rather than having a goal of getting fit, I choose walking and cycling instead of driving, and making it a habit to do some form of strength exercises a few times a week.

Instead of setting time limits for getting personal projects done, I choose to spend time working on them when I'm really in the mood.

I have to say, it's made my life much less stressful.

I highly recommend it.


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