It’s 2023, and the implications scare the crap out of me.
Over the past several years, I’ve written posts talking about goals either for the upcoming calendar year or for the next year of my life. In fact, I have lists all over the place of goals. I have a big fat bucket list just sitting on my computer collecting virtual dust. And I have lists everywhere of goals ranging from the relatively tiny to the excessively lofty.
Goals as a Source of Shame
The problem is: I’ve slowed down. Way too much. And these lists that are supposed to push me and motivate me, as well as give me some level of accountability, have morphed into a source of, for lack of a better word, shame.
When I look at a post from a year ago and say to myself that it’s so great I accomplished all five or even most of the five goals I set out to accomplish for the year, I’m supposed to be overjoyed. I’m supposed to look back with pride at my monumental accomplishment.
But what do I do when it’s zero out of five? What do I do when I look at my goals and realize that I haven’t made any inroads whatsoever in any of them, without even having Corona as an excuse anymore?
These lists that are meant to inspire instead become a source of pain. They don’t motivate me. They depress me.
And they make me feel stuck. Locked in place. Terrified that even though every day of my life I might accomplish little tasks here and there, I’m still left with my lofty and enormous goals just hanging above me, almost mocking me with how little progress has been made.
How does this happen?
How does life leave us in seemingly endless patterns, wandering down roads that don’t seem to be going anywhere?
Is this just another product of the painful institution we call adulthood?
When I was in my teens and twenties, I felt like I was having life-altering revelations daily. On a dime, I could just pick up my life where it stood and throw everything I’ve ever known on its head. If I wanted to pick up and move to Alaska for a year to master my ice fishing skills, it was an option on the table.
Yet as an adult, with a wife, kids, and bills to pay, when I contemplate Operation Alaska, all I can come up with are reasons why it’s a problem. And the list just gets longer and longer until I dismiss the idea as just a childish whim, a fantasy I could never actually fulfill.How does life leave us in seemingly endless patterns, wandering down roads that don't seem to be going anywhere? Click To Tweet
Yearning to Break Free
I want to be able to break free.
I want to be able to look at my bucket list, work through everything one at a time, and by the end of a year feel like the sky’s the limit. I can conquer the world. There is no task too big. If I want to master a foreign language, get a PhD, learn how to surf, and start training toward a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, then I just get out there and get the process started.
But life, once again, rears its ugly head.
And before you know it, I’m not mastering Spanish. I’m responding to people’s email marketing questions.
I’m not speaking with my university mentor. I’m doing the dishes.
I’m not getting out there and riding the waves. I’m going to countless doctors, just to feel mildly healthy.
And I’m not hitting the mat at a BJJ studio. I’m figuring out how to pay for my groceries.
And I don’t see where or how this process comes to an end.
Waiting for Retirement
One of the most formative and inspirational books I ever read was the Four-Hour Work Week, by Tim Ferriss. A major point of the book is to try and figure out a way to break the pattern most of us are trapped in in our lives. We spend half our waking hours working and commuting to and from our jobs, leaving little room to enjoy our lives the way we wish to live them.
And before you know it, we’re 65, retired, with a small amount of retirement money coming in, and we’re way too tired to really enjoy this next stage of our lives.
So how can one go about breaking free, so they can start enjoying their lives right now? Now, when they have some energy left. Now, when it really counts. How can we put down our work laptops, run out into the vast and beautiful world out there, and live each moment to the fullest?
All I can say is: I wish I knew!
But I do know one thing.
One Goal for 2023
This year everyone will be spared a post about my goals for the upcoming year. More than anyone, I will be spared that post.
Because 2023 has one goal and one goal alone. And yes, I’m aware that this goal can just as easily become the source of my frustration like any other, but it is way too important to not make sure it is a major focus in my life.
My goal for 2023 is to break free. My goal for 2023 is to stop being the product of society’s wishes and whims.
From when I was a child I was taught by nearly everyone around me that life was a simple pattern: Get educated, get a degree, enter the workforce, retire, and then leave this world having educated the next generation to follow the same pattern.
I entered the Jewish world and a few more essential elements were tossed into the picture: Get married, have lots of kids, and try to do a bunch of really kind things.
And a lot of these are great and special elements of my life.
But they’re not enough. And they have a tendency to lock you in place. I don’t want to be trapped. I don’t want to feel like I’ve put up a wall to my potential. I want to break free of life’s patterns and forge a brand new path for myself.
May 2023 be my year of freedoom. May 2023 bring happiness and prosperity, to me and those I love, in ways we could have never even imagined!