Listen to this story being read by Clare Stephens, here.
It's August 2021, and I'm exhausted.
Unsurprising perhaps, given the state of the world, but that doesn't make it any easier.
Almost every plan I've had for myself for the last 18 months has been thwarted. As a result, my day-to-day life is on autopilot, and I'm focusing only on what's directly in front of me: the next project, the next meeting, the next email.
If someone were to ask me what my goals are, I don't know how I'd answer. They're everything and they're nothing. I want to write and speak and create and learn and take risks and contribute meaningfully to the world but it's all too much and none of it is specific or realistic enough to put down on paper, let alone come to fruition.
I, therefore, take the easier route of following what I perceive to be the next logical step laid out before me. If I'm offered an opportunity, I accept. If I'm told I'm good at something, I do more of it. If there's a task everyone hates doing, I take it on, in a misguided, ill-fated attempt to be liked and to distract me from the bigger question of whether I'm happy.
There's nothing proactive about my approach. It's entirely passive. I'm making decisions – big ones – but not consciously or intentionally.
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Then, on an otherwise nondescript weekday in winter, the question of the future does come up. What do I want? Where do I see myself in a few years' time?
I don't have a set of goals written down in a diary, with timelines and actionable steps and measurable outcomes attached to them. But what I do have, suddenly, is an image.
Not of a goal. But of an anti-goal.
I know, with clarity, what I don't want my life to look like a year from now.