What Being Spontaneous Taught Me About Goals

After graduating college, a friend and I decided to backpack through Europe. We bought a Eurail pass and flew to London. We had very little money and no particular plan. The only thing we knew for sure was when we had to be at the airport in London to fly back to the US.

We had no destination in mind and every day we decided if we would stay and tour the city we were in or travel to another. Sometimes, we even randomly pointed to a place on a map and that was where we headed. Needless to say, it was quite the adventure. We slept on trains, in train stations, in parks, on beaches, youth hostels, pensiones, and even a couple of hotels. It was probably the least planned 6 weeks of my life.

Even with the spontaneity of this trip, we had things we wanted to accomplish:
1. Learn, observe, experience different cultures and foods
2. Meet new and interesting people
3. Stay Safe
4. Return to London in time to catch the plane back to the US

I see this quote often… “A Goal Without a Plan is Just a Wish.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

The first three things on our travel list were wishes. These are things we wanted to accomplish, but we had no specifics. The only real goal was the last item – to return to London. Here, we had a specific place, date, and time.

Wishes are things we want to do, experience, or achieve. Goals are things we plan to do, experience or achieve.

For my trip through Europe, I didn’t want to be tied to any specific destination (except for London at the end). I wanted to experience the freedom of not having to accomplish something by a certain time. Having wishes and not goals was just fine for me. Did we accomplish all for 4 things? Absolutely. Even without a plan we accomplished all 4 things.

When I think about wishes vs goals, I learned that one is not necessarily better than the other – in fact, balancing wishes with goals makes for a happier life. When people are spontaneous, they live in the moment. They are less stressed, more creative, more flexible, and overall happier.

Is still think goals are very important. I love goal setting – it works well in my life. And while I agree that a goal without a plan is just a wish, goals without spontaneity can seem like a chore.

Now I create my goals and set out to accomplish them but leave plenty of time for unplanned experiences and living in the moment. Lesson learned.

 

(Photo Credits: larahcv / Pixabay)

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