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Are your goals stressing you out?

Updated: Sep 25, 2023

Let go of your need to win and "shoot for nothing"

I’ve been thinking about the paradox of goals for a while now.

No one will deny that having a clear goal can provide you with a sense of direction and motivation. At the same time, it creates pressure. To a certain degree, pressure is good and needed. But when you become fixated on a goal, it can also create negative effects. I have experienced this many times.

So when I recently came across this poem by Chinese philosopher Chuang Tzu, it instantly resonated with me.

When an archer is shooting for nothing, he has all his skill. If he shoots for a brass buckle, he is already nervous. If he shoots for a prize of gold, he goes blind or sees two targets. He is out of his mind! His skill has not changed, but the prize divides him. He cares. He thinks more of winning than of shooting. And the need to win drains him of power.

For me, shooting arrows is writing articles. It’s what I enjoy. Whether I’m skilled at it is for my readers to decide.

My goal for a long time was to publish two articles each week. If I fell behind, which happened often, I became stressed. Over time, my focus on writing two articles per week at all cost, extinguished any joy I once had in writing them.

What this poem reminded me to do, was to refocus from achieving my goal to enjoying the process of writing.

Do you have a goal that is stressing you out? Try and let go of your “need to win” and “shoot for nothing” instead.

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