Goal Free Living by Stephen Shapiro

Here is an idea for Lent. Give up goals! Or, at least, your attachment to goals.

I am most definitely a goalaholic. I scored a 66 out of 90 on the Goalahoolic Test. The healthy range is 15-29. I’ve always had my 10 year goals, my 5 year goals, and my short-term goals. I make goals for everything. Sometimes I meet them, sometimes I don’t. If I don’t meet them, I’m always upset with myself.

This habit was acquired through practice, not through my nature. I’ve taken several time management courses. I took the Charles R. Hobbs seminar that Day-Timer offered years ago and used that forever. I did all of the training provided by the Franklin system (Ascend) and did more training when it became Franklin-Covery. I used to live by it religiously although it’s been years since I’ve followed it exactly. But I still create goals for everything.

Shapiro claims that goal free living is not for everyone. People who score as “judgers” on the MBTI, for instance, may be more comfortable with structure and organization. But I am most definitely not a “judger” on the MBTI scale. I’m an ENFP and there was no question that I am a perceiver rather than judger.

Shapiro claims that we live in a “judging” obsessed society so goals reign supreme. But that there is much value in living without them because goals tend to keep us focused upon the future rather than on the here and now. Goals themselves are not a problem. But our attachment to them is.

The idea of living goal free sounds like freedom itself to me. So needless to say, I appreciated this book. If you want to learn more about goal free living, check out Shapiro’s website here.

The Right Questions by Debbie Ford

Not my kind of book but I suppose the questions are good.

  1. Will this choice propel me toward an inspiring future, or will it keep me stuck in the past?
  2. Will this choice bring me long-term fulfillment, or will it bring me short-term gratification?
  3. Am I standing in my power, or am I trying to please another?
  4. Am I looking for what’s right, or am I looking for what’s wrong?
  5. Will this choice add to my life force, or will it rob me of my energy?
  6. Will I use this situation as a catalyst to grow and evolve, or will I use it to beat myself up?
  7. Does this choice empower me, or does it disempower me?
  8. Is this an act of self-love, or is it an act of self-sabotage?
  9. Is this an act of faith, or is it an act of fear?
  10. Am I choosing from my divinity, or am I choosing from my humanity?

Very practical.

But I didn’t really need a whole book to explain the questions to me. In fact, the book brought up more conflict than it did clarification. For instance, the examples used for questions 6 and 7 completely confused me. For question 6, the example used is of a woman who wants a day to herself, but her boyfriend asks if they can eat breakfast with his friend. She says “yes” and this completely ruins her day because it is said to be a matter of people pleasing. She should have said “no”. However, as an example for question 7, a man is having a really busy week and doesn’t want to drop what he is doing to go to the corporate office for a short meeting. But he is supposed to shift his focus to what is right about the situation. He’s supposed to say “yes” even though he wants to say no. But this isn’t people pleasing.

I asked Ford about this and she said the difference was that the intention in the first scenario was to have a day off for self-nurturance. To have said “yes” to the breakfast would have broken this intention. On the other hand, the man who has to drop everything he is doing to go to the corporate office for a short meeting has a different intention in that having to go to the meeting is out of his control. But why is this out of his control anymore than it is out of the control of the woman? The man wants to keep his job and the woman wants to keep her boyfriend. What’s the difference?

I was not impressed with the examples or with the clarification. In fact, I felt as though Ford was talking out of two sides of her mouth throughout both books. On the one hand, she says it doesn’t matter what happens in the upcoming year. All that matters are our reactions to what happens. On the other hand, everything wonderful – the hollywood ending – is guaranteed to happen if we simply take the time to answer all of the “right questions” in the “right way”. I was hoping the book would be more of an answer to how to handle life when we don’t perfectly answer all of the “right questions” in the “right way”. But alas, it was mostly about how to become the perfect Hollywood movie character.

Parent as Mystic, Mystic as Parent

Parent as Mystic, Mystic as Parent held a few gyms but is not a book I will recommend, although I imagine this might be a wonderful book for some.

The title excited me but the content disappointed me. I am surrounded by many radical unschooling, attachment oriented naturalists whom I deeply admire. Spanglers lifestyle pales in comparison, especially in terms of trusting in “mystical parenting”. He seems to be suggesting a much less radical, suburban mysticism which seemed to me more contrived than soulfully experienced.

He prefaced the book by explaining that his editor suggested he write a book about being a mystical parent. Maybe that is why this book felt more contrived than experienced. I haven’t read any of his other books. Perhaps they are more soulfully expressed than this one. It had enough beautiful gems within it that I imagine that to be so.