http://www.missminimalist.com/2010/09/minimalist-philosophy-wildflower-goals/

When you spend time in the blogosphere, you hear a lot of talk about goals: personal goals, professional goals, finance goals, development goals, creative goals, short-term goals, long-term goals, etc. (Sometimes it can be exhausting just reading about them all!)

And if you’re a blogger, you’ll inevitably be asked to talk about your own goals. The question often comes up during interviews, and should be a snap to answer, right? Err, not for me.

You see, I’ve never been good at long-term planning – I don’t really like to outline (or even know) where I’m going to be one, five, or ten years from now. Accordingly, I’ve always been reluctant to define, write down, or consciously work toward a set of prescribed goals.

I was chatting about this with my husband the other day, while we were on one of our countryside walks. Over the last year, we’ve been marveling at the ever-changing panorama of wildflowers, and every time we go out, we look forward to what new beauty awaits us. We’ve been treated to bluebells, Queen Anne’s lace, poppies, thistles, wild roses, sowbread, and fields full of blooms we’ll never identify. No one plants them, fertilizes them, waters them, or otherwise cultivates them – they just spring forth, wild, ungroomed, and spontaneous, surprising and delighting us.

I like to think of my goals the same way: popping up like wildflowers, changing with the seasons, dazzling me with their spontaneity and variety.

Sometimes my goal is to finish writing a book, sometimes it’s keeping up with my blog, sometimes it’s learning key phrases in Italian, Hungarian, or Japanese. Sometimes my goals are easy (cook an edible dinner), sometimes they’re challenging (perfect a certain yoga pose), and sometimes they’re ridiculously farfetched (interest Oprah in minimalist living). They vary from day to day, week to week, month to month. Sometimes I have a whole bouquet of goals, and sometimes I don’t have any at all.

With that in mind, here’s my short guide to having wildflower goals:

1. Give them fertile ground. Keep an open mind, stimulate your intellect, interact with interesting people, and take advantage of interesting opportunities. For optimum growth, expose your goals to as much water and sunlight (in the form of other people’s opinions, ideas, and feedback) as possible.

2. Keep an eye out for new varieties. Sometimes we’re so focused on certain goals, we neglect to notice, or nurture, new ones that arise. Regularly survey your landscape, and don’t let those promising new buds escape your attention.

3. Let them surprise and delight you. Leave room for new and unexpected goals in between the ones you’ve “planted.” Learning to paint or play a musical instrument may spring up spontaneously among your more “serious” goals – instead of dismissing them as frivolous, embrace them as a wonderful new flowering of your interests.

4. Let them grow on their own. Don’t feel compelled to tend to your goals every minute of every day. The hardy ones will survive just fine on their own, ready for you to pick and pursue them when the time is right.

5. Let them change with the seasons. Instead of rigidly defining your goals, allow them to develop more fluidly. Goals you set last year may no longer be as relevant or desirable to you now – instead of forcing them to bloom, let them go to seed. Embrace new ones that arise in their place.

Of course, I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t set goals – they’re a fabulous way to help you stay focused and motivated. Rather, I’m saying that you shouldn’t feel compelled to clip, manicure, and overly tend to them. They should be a source of joy and self-discovery, rather than stress or frustration.

How does this relate to minimalist living? Well, when we’re loaded down with stuff, and wrapped up in consumer pursuits, we tend to have tunnel vision. We plod along in a straight line, and pay little attention to what’s going on at the periphery. We concentrate on the goals we set forth last year (or many years ago), and rarely stop for re-evaluation.

Minimalist living eliminates the distractions – the clutter, the chores, the debt – that devour our time and energy. When we’re not slaves to our to-do lists, we have the freedom to relax, wander about, and explore new possibilities.

So let your mental garden grow wild once in a while – you may be surprised what springs forth!

When you spend time in the blogosphere, you hear a lot of talk about goals: personal goals, professional goals, finance goals, development goals, creative goals, short-term goals, long-term goals, etc. (Sometimes it can be exhausting just reading about them all!)

And if you’re a blogger, you’ll inevitably be asked to talk about your own goals. The question often comes up during interviews, and should be a snap to answer, right? Err, not for me.

You see, I’ve never been good at long-term planning – I don’t really like to outline (or even know) where I’m going to be one, five, or ten years from now. Accordingly, I’ve always been reluctant to define, write down, or consciously work toward a set of prescribed goals.

I was chatting about this with my husband the other day, while we were on one of our countryside walks. Over the last year, we’ve been marveling at the ever-changing panorama of wildflowers, and every time we go out, we look forward to what new beauty awaits us. We’ve been treated to bluebells, Queen Anne’s lace, poppies, thistles, wild roses, sowbread, and fields full of blooms we’ll never identify. No one plants them, fertilizes them, waters them, or otherwise cultivates them – they just spring forth, wild, ungroomed, and spontaneous, surprising and delighting us.

I like to think of my goals the same way: popping up like wildflowers, changing with the seasons, dazzling me with their spontaneity and variety.

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Sometimes my goal is to finish writing a book, sometimes it’s keeping up with my blog, sometimes it’s learning key phrases in Spanish, Hungarian, or Japanese. Sometimes my goals are easy (cook an edible dinner), sometimes they’re challenging (perfect a certain yoga pose), and sometimes they’re ridiculously farfetched (interest Oprah in minimalist living). They vary from day to day, week to week, month to month. Sometimes I have a whole bouquet of goals, and sometimes I don’t have any at all.

<!–[if !supportEmptyParas]–> <!–[endif]–>

With that in mind, here’s my short guide to having wildflower goals:

1. Give them fertile ground. Keep an open mind, stimulate your intellect, interact with interesting people, and take advantage of interesting opportunities. For optimum growth, expose your goals to as much water and sunlight (in the form of other people’s opinions, ideas, and feedback) as possible.

2. Keep an eye out for new varieties. Sometimes we’re so focused on certain goals, we neglect to notice, or nurture, new ones that arise. Regularly survey your landscape, and don’t let those promising new buds escape your attention.

<!–[if !supportEmptyParas]–> <!–[endif]–>

3. Let them surprise and delight you. Leave room for new and unexpected goals in between the ones you’ve “planted.” Learning to paint or play a musical instrument may spring up spontaneously among your more “serious” goals – instead of dismissing them as frivolous, embrace them as a wonderful new flowering of your interests.

<!–[if !supportEmptyParas]–> <!–[endif]–>

4. Let them grow on their own. Don’t feel compelled to tend to your goals every minute of every day. The hardy ones will survive just fine on their own, ready for you to pick and pursue them when the time is right.

5. Let them change with the seasons. Instead of rigidly defining your goals, allow them to develop more fluidly. Goals you set last year may no longer be as relevant or desirable to you now – instead of forcing them to bloom, let them go to seed. Embrace new ones that arise in their place.

Of course, I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t set goals – they’re a fabulous way to help you stay focused and motivated. Rather, I’m saying that you shouldn’t feel compelled to clip, manicure, and overly tend to them. They should be a source of joy and self-discovery, rather than stress or frustration.

Let your mental garden grow wild once in a while. You’ll feel more relaxed and serene, and may be surprised what springs forth!