Why you shouldn’t have goals.

By David Joel Miller.

Not having goals makes life simpler.

Have you noticed how many books and blog posts there are about goals and

Setting Goals.

Setting Goals.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

motivation? I can’t even read all the materials on how to set goals, the steps you need to take to reach your goals, and why you may be pursuing the wrong goals. Despite all the efforts to reach a lot of goals everybody who is pursuing those goals seems to be unhappy. Then I run into people who have no goals, and they don’t seem to be in the least bit concerned about their lack of goals. Is it possible that we have it all wrong, could this constant emphasis on pursuing goals be the cause of a great deal of insecurity? Maybe the people who have managed to convince themselves they are incapable of reaching goals are onto something. Here’s a short list of reasons why having goals may not be all that desirable.

Goals take effort.

One of the easiest ways to avoid reaching goals is to avoid putting any effort into them. Don’t set goals in the first place. If by accident you discover that you have some life goals, make no effort in that direction. Especially resist anyone in your life who tries to suggest that you need to have some goals. Ignore the advice and encouragement of parents, partners, family, friends, and especially helping professionals. Avoiding all this goal hoopla will save you a whole lot of effort.

Success in reaching goals comes with responsibility.

As long as you have no goals or if you can convince yourself that you could never possibly achieve a goal any way you could avoid all the responsibility for your life. Success comes with responsibilities. The more you have, the more bills you’ll have to pay. If you have a job, they will want you to show up on a regular basis. Being successful in relationships means one more person you must care about. If you want to avoid responsibility in life accomplishes as little as possible, and the easiest way to avoid success is never to try.

Make lots of goals just don’t pursue them; you will accidentally reach some.

Be careful with that process of creating goals. Especially, don’t ever write down a list of goals. We used to think that the process of writing out goals would put the subconscious to work on creating those goals. Some professionals even believed in universal or subconscious goals that all humans might aspire to reach. Absolutely, do not think about goals and especially avoid writing anything down. Keeping any goals for life out of your mind reduces the risk that you might reach some of those goals without effort, purely because of your subconscious creating them.

Don’t waste time on goal planning.

People with goals get sucked into the whole planning their life process. Do your best to avoid thinking. You know that whole trying to figure out who you are and what you want process, is likely to make your head hurt. Save your time for important things like binge-watching television and frantically worrying about why you don’t have enough friends on social media. Planning and implementing goals will interfere with your vegetating time.

Efforts towards goals can be painful.

Effort at anything can be painful. Have you ever watched any of those exercise videos? Don’t you feel sorry for all those fit and trim bodies? Those people doing all that work, they could have saved themselves a lot of effort by just avoiding the work that is required to reach meaningful goals.

You shouldn’t have to choose your goals.

Choosing is hard. Do you want to be a doctor? Maybe you should be a lawyer? Or maybe you were destined to be a successful businessman. Why should you plan your future? Wait for the letter of acceptance from the medical school to arrive in the mail. Maybe the boss who wants to hire you and pay you lots of money will come knocking on your door. If you’re out going to school or hunting for a job, you won’t be home when opportunity knocks on your door and tells you which kind of success you’re supposed to be.

You were born unmotivated, why change?

When you were little, were there always people wanting you to do something. Somebody bugging you, first to crawl, and then to walk? Remember that whole potty training fiasco? You got through your childhood somehow putting things in your face and doing as little as possible. You probably have avoided a whole lot of work by telling yourself you’re lazy. It’s not your fault; you were born that way. Motivating you has always been somebody else’s job. If your parents couldn’t motivate you, your teachers in school didn’t motivate you, why are you going to try to self-motivate? The time for motivation is once you get a job, then it will be up to your boss to motivate you.

Stay unconscious so you won’t recognize when you reach your goal.

If all else fails, you can avoid any strenuous motivational thinking by staying as unconscious as possible. Drink lots of alcohol, do lots of drugs, and try to avoid straining your brain by thinking. But then if you are extra good at avoiding motivation, you probably didn’t read this, did you?

Still not convinced you should avoid goals? You may be one of those people headed for a successful, happy life. More posts on this topic are at motivation and success.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life.

Bumps on the Road of Life.

Bumps on the Road of Life.
David Joel Miller.

You can recover. Your cruising along the road of life and then wham, something knocks you in the ditch. If you have gone through a divorce, breakup, or lost a job, your life may have gotten off track. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel that explores the world of a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Other books are due out soon; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on my writing projects, speaking and teaching, along with comments on recent news in the field of counseling – sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page or my Facebook author’s page, David Joel Miller. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Advertisements

Is this the year you will change?

By David Joel Miller.

Will anything change for you this year?

Changing your life

Time for a life change?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Look at that! New Year’s come and gone. Some resolutions have already been abandon. Change is hard, staying the same is easier. Have you ever thought that someday you will make some changes, but time continues on and nothing much changes? You may even have told yourself that you are too old to change, yet all around you others are making changes, small ones, major ones. Some of those people are older than you. Some have illnesses and challenges. And yet they change. Have you asked yourself when will you finally make those changes?

You may see from the blog title, counselorssoapbox Counseling, Therapy, Recovery, and a Happy Life, that I believe in people having a happy life. I believe in wellness and recovery. You can too. Improving your life does not need to be done all at once in huge seismic shifts. That old snowball effect, small changes mounting up, is at work here. Let’s start walking through the process of making life improvements and see where it takes us.

Self-improvement begins with finding out where you are.

Anyone can benefit from a conscious effort to make their life better. You start by looking at where you are and then you decide where you want to go. Don’t get sidetracked into how awful your current life is. View any problems you have as opportunities for improvement.

Some people call this process taking a life inventory. It is important to add to your inventory, not just the marked down and worthless items, but those skills and talents that may take you where you need to go. Make a concerted effort to look for undeveloped talents, those things you said you would do someday that you have not yet tried. One of those yet to be tried activities may be just the thing that has been missing from your life.

Do not rush the inventory process. If you sketch out a house on the back of a napkin you could rush out, buy materials, and start building. It is better to have a good blueprint. This keeps you from having to tear down your house because you forgot the foundation or a way to install electrical and plumbing.

Put your life improvement plan down in writing.

Some time back, a few decades ago, I started working on a written Happy Emotional Life Plan (H.E.L.P.) I carry this around in a loose leaf binder. This plan is one section in the binder that includes sections for the classes I teach and my other important life activities. I look at this plan periodically, about one per week. It reminds me where I have been and where I am going. It is surprising many years, when I get to the end of the year, how far I have come.

Along the way, I discovered that a WRAP plan (Wellness and Recovery Action Plan) was a part of the things I needed to work on. Staying emotionally healthy is a prerequisite for me if I want to reach my goals. But my H.E.L.P. plan includes a bunch of other things also.

You do not need to be lost to check a road map.

Having a Happy Emotional Life Plan does not require you to believe there is something wrong with you. Take a look at the post “Why do successful people have coaches” for more on the way in which anyone can use some help in reaching their life goals.

No matter how difficult or awful the place you are in you can still benefit from doing some things to make your life a better place.

It is not just where you are going but how you wish to travel that matters.

Part of creating a life change plan, one that will make your life what you want it to be, is getting clear on your values. Values clarification should always come before setting goals. If a goal for you is having more money, why do you want that and what are you willing to do or not do to get there.

Don’t try to visit all the countries in Europe in one week.

A common error in trying to improve your life is to try to tackle too many goals at once. People in early recovery from mental illness, substance use, disintegrating relationships and so on often make the mistake of trying to fix all their problems the first week.

You may decide you would like a more abundant life so you take a job working forty plus hours a week. Then you see the need for more education so you enroll in school as a full-time student. Some love in your life would make things better so you begin dating and start a new relationship. All that gets done in the first week of the year. What will you do for the second week?

Trying to make too many changes at once reduces the chances of success. Start by making a few small changes and practice them over and over until those new habits become automatic.

Start any self-improvement plan with a few selected goals and as you make progress towards those goals you can add more to the list.

Plans for self-improvement are life maps for a journey.

It is easier to say you want to be healthy. Taking action on that goal is more difficult. Break those goals you have set up into small steps. Take one step at a time and see how far you can travel. Include periodic reviews for your goals and progress as part of a life plan review.

Sometimes it helps to consult a travel adviser or guide.

If your life plan includes some serious renovations consider getting some professional help. A career counselor can help you look for the new job you want. If you have emotional or relationship issues you need to work on, then a counselor or therapist can help.

Throughout this year we will revisit this theme of transforming your life into the one you would like to have and how you can navigate this process of change.

How are you wanting to change yourself and the life you live?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life.

You can recover. Your cruising along the road of life and then wham, something knocks you in the ditch. If you have gone through a divorce, break up, or lost a job your life may have gotten off track. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel that explores the world of a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Other books are due out soon; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on my writing projects, speaking and teaching, along with comments on recent news in the field of counseling – sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page or my Facebook author’s page, David Joel Miller. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Have you picked the right goal?

By David Joel Miller.

Not all goals will work out, here are ways to test your life goal.

Reaching life goals

Setting goals.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

You’re told that people who accomplish things pick goals and stick to them. We also hear plenty of stories about those who pursue life goals that take them nowhere and could never have been possible. How can you tell if the goals you are considering are worthwhile goals and the right goals for you?

Goals set the direction for your life. How viable are those goals? To measure anything you need a good ruler. Here is a set of measurement standards to help you decide if the goal you are considering is the right goal for you.

Is this goal consistent with my values?

You can pick a goal because it is popular or because you are told that is the thing you should be wanting, but you need to consider if when you reach this goal will you still like yourself. Will you be the person you would like to be?

It is easy to get caught up in the quest for someone else’s goal. Society talks about goals like popularity and financial wealth. If those goals work for you then go for it. But you need to take a good look at what really makes you happy and what you are all about. It is not success if what you value most is family, but you spend your life making money and mailing it home so your family can live without you.

If I do this will my family or friends be proud of me?

There are lots of goals that you could accomplish. Ask yourself if this goal is something you would want your children sharing at school. Would you be proud that you accomplished this thing or is this a goal that needs to remain in the secret darkness?

Is it worth doing?

There are lots of things you might devote your life to. You could set all kinds of world records. But which records will make you feel like you have accomplished something and which are simply records for having done something a minute longer than someone else.

Can it be done? Not what they say but your belief.

Do you really believe in your heart that this is a possible goal? It is possible to trick yourself into believing that if you do this or that then you will be happy. If you are not happy in the process of getting there then you are unlikely to be happy when you reach that goal. Don’t be the little kid in you spending your life digging a tunnel to China. Do find better ways to open up connections to far off places.

Can you do it?

Are you the right person to accomplish this goal? To reach goals you need to believe in yourself. Are you that person now or will you need to change yourself to get there? You may need more schooling or have to develop an underdeveloped strength.

Is it possible for you? Pursuing a sports goal when you are physically ill-suited for the sport may set yourself up for failure. You can hate music and practice but be pursuing a goal of fame by being the rock star on stage. Consider other ways you might achieve that goal of fame that are better suited to who you truly are.

If you find that you are not the right person for pursuing this goal then it is also likely that giving your life in pursuit of this goal is not the right thing for you.

What will get in your way – obstacles?

In selecting goals for yourself one often overlooked factor is the obstacles that will get in your way. How much money will this take? How much time will be needed? Do you have those resources or how will you raise the required money? Are you starting on a goal that will take several lifetimes to finish? What part of your plan will need to be modified or given up in order to overcome this obstacle?

When you develop this plan to overcome the obstacle will you find the effort in overcoming that barrier will have reduced the value of reaching that goal to the point you no longer want to pursue it?

Can I get past the obstacles?

Some obstacles can be overcome and some can’t. Flying to the moon would have been an impossible achievement for someone living in colonial America. This goal required the invention of the airplane, missiles, and lots of other technology before it became possible. It required a large team effort.

Some obstacles can be overcome by you alone, others require help from contemporaries and some goals are just outside the possibilities of things as they are now.

Will the goal be worth the cost?

Reaching any goal requires expenditures and sacrifices. Always consider how much time, how much money and how much pain and effort will be required to reach your objective. Just make sure that once you are there that reaching this goal will have been worth the sacrifices.

If you fail (Don’t make it) can you still be happy?

You want to be a great author and you write your whole life. No one may read that epic in your lifetime. Will it still be worth it? What if you wanted to play in the majors and you spend years trying. Will the journey be its own reward or will your life be ruined because you never made it to that goal?

If the pursuit of your objective is worth the effort by itself this is a great goal. If only the achieving will be worthwhile consider carefully what you will have given up or have lost in the pursuit of an unattained goal.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life.

You can recover. Your cruising along the road of life and then wham, something knocks you in the ditch. If you have gone through a divorce, break up, or lost a job your life may have gotten off track. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel that explores the world of a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Other books are due out soon; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on my writing projects, speaking and teaching, along with comments on recent news in the field of counseling – sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page or my Facebook author’s page, David Joel Miller. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Settling for easy – keeps success out of reach.

By David Joel Miller.

Is success out of your reach?

You have to stretch to reach the good stuff.

High fruit

Hard to reach fruit can be the best.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

If you drift through life going for the easy things you miss out on the exceptional life events. Settling for the things right in front of you keeps you from ever finding out what could have happened if you had just reached a little farther, tried harder and kept at it longer.

Don’t create a mediocre life when aiming for higher goals would have taken you to places beyond the ones you see.

Just because you can does not mean you should.

One way you can cheat yourself out of great things is to aim for the things that are available to you right now. There are many easy things in life, the spectacular things are harder. Don’t cheat yourself by taking the quick, easy way now when the longer harder one would have taken you much farther.

The job you get because of a family member or a friend may be a great life start or it may be the beginning of settling for things that take less effort on your part. Quick pleasure can come back to haunt you for a long time afterward.

If you live your life looking for the “I can do that” things you may miss out on the “I want to do that” things. Meaningful goals take time, preparation and effort. Don’t cheat yourself by taking the easy path.

Letting others set your goals means living their unlived life.

Having a parent or mentor that encourages you is a great thing. But trying to live your life to meet the things a parent wanted and never got is a way to live less of a life than you could have had.

Plenty of parents want their child to be the lawyer, doctor, actor or enter another profession that parent never made it at. Ask yourself if spending your life chasing someone else’s dream will make you happy.

The world is full of stage mothers and almost famous, hoping that their child will become famous and they can bask in that reflected glory. If this is your dream also have at it. But if you find you are pursuing someone else’s dream, wake up and set a course that is right for you. Avoid eating someone’s spoiled meal, cook up your own dreams.

You don’t get to start at the finish line.

Many people expect to start at the top. If you pick a goal that is close and easy you may reach it but at the cost of never having seen what you might have been. A large percentage of people who start out training for any given field end up quitting. Even people with masters and Ph.D.’s drop out of their academic field.

Some find that what they studied did not fit them. Many more people become disillusioned when they find that your degree did not lead to the high paid job they wanted overnight. Building a career or perfecting a talent takes a lot of time and dedication. Pick a path you will enjoy walking.

Overnight success takes years.

Those stories about people who became overnight successes are mostly a myth. Those sudden stars often worked and practiced for years to get that one big break. When your chance comes make sure you have done the homework and the footwork that will sustain that good beginning.

For every person on the big stage, there are many, many more who are traveling the country performing to small crowds in small places. Some people rise faster than others, but we have all seen the One-hit-wonders who came and went. Long term lasting success in any field takes staying the course for a long time.

Great things take sustained effort.

You can’t go a long way by running fast for a few minutes. Successful people, in all senses of that term, put in the hours, do the work over long periods of time to reach those ultimate goals. To reach your dream you need to show up for practice every day.

You build muscles by lifting weights and doing the exercises. You develop job skills by doing the task over and over each time looking for the things you can improve. High performers never stop perfecting their skills. They also discover that you do not get better just by doing the things you are good at over and over. Practice also includes finding your weak spots and practicing to perfect those skills.

Obstacles are temporary, giving up is permanent.

Most obstacles to accomplishing something are only temporary setbacks. Look for other ways to reach your desired result. Go over, dig under, or go around. Look for ways to turn that obstacle into a solution. When you find a new unique way to overcome obstacles you get a long lead over those others who are still back at the start saying it can’t be done.

Taking shortcuts can get you on the wrong path.

There are shortcuts. They work sometimes, for a while. But if your way of winning involves cheating, dishonesty or cutting corners, in the long run, that kind of accomplishment is fleeting. Once you get caught cutting corners you lose others trust and they take away the prize.

Don’t follow the path of least resistance.

Great people do great things. They do things others told them couldn’t be done. Stay within the rules but make sure those rules are really needed not just the conventional wisdom of people who can’t see the possibilities you can see.

Doing the easy thing does not build up skills. Repetition of your mistakes does not lead anywhere. Do the hard things and see if you do not develop ever-increasing levels of skills.

Make sure you know what success will look like when you get there.

If you set off chasing money when what would have made you happy is being a better person you will be way disappointed when you reach the end of the trail. Doing things only for the cash burns people out. Find something you can love doing and still make the income you want and need and you have the best of both. People who love a subject learn it. If you love what you do you will be better at it and the practice will be a joy.

Take a look at your goals and see if you have set them high enough.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life.

You can recover. Your cruising along the road of life and then wham, something knocks you in the ditch. If you have gone through a divorce, break up, or lost a job your life may have gotten off track. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel that explores the world of a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Other books are due out soon; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on my writing projects, speaking and teaching, along with comments on recent news in the field of counseling – sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page or my Facebook author’s page, David Joel Miller. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

When you were born did you get your instruction book?

By David Joel Miller.

Did you get your life’s instruction book?

With most important things, when you make the purchase you get an instruction book. When you buy a new mower, you get a book.  When you buy a barbecue, you get a book. When I came home from the hospital I don’t think I got a book.

It would have been nice to get an instruction manual for life when I was born. How about you? Did you get an instruction book that told you what to do and where to go? Wouldn’t that have been helpful?

Such a book should include warnings – don’t do that with your life, it can be painful.

So often I feel like I am making this life up as I go along. You would think the instructions would have been clearer. Should I move here or there? Which relationships should I get into and which should I avoid. It would be nice to have instructions to known about the warnings without having to make the mistakes and suffer the pain of yet another learning experience.

Some hospitals used to give out books to new parents, what to do and not do to be a good parent. Most of those books described the “typical” child and the “average” parent. “Typical” and “average” are rare things – almost as rare as those elusive “normal” people.

People who were given those baby raising books, or bought one, report that the books were only marginally helpful. Not that you should do without one. If by some chance of luck you get a book that tells you how to raise a child and the system works, cherish that book. Just most of the time the book describes things that don’t happen, and your child is doing things that don’t sound like anything in the book.

Think of those baby raising books more like field guides to the fauna of childhood than any accurate plan for raising your child right.  Books that describe developmentally appropriate parenting and life stages give you a guide to things some or many children a certain age do or should be able to do. As for your child, the writer of that book knows no more than the child does about how he may act tomorrow.

Which should you spring for, sports equipment, music lessons or tutoring in algebra? Do everything right and your child may become famous for something you forgot to provide for him and may fail at the thing you put all that time and effort into. Kids are like that, so are adults.

The older the child gets, the less helpful the book becomes. Give that child a year, and just as you get them figured out they will have changed.

By the time your child is grown the book is hopelessly out of date, or the child is.

Most of the people who come to see me for counseling report they not only didn’t they get a book on how to be a parent they got even less information on how to grow up. So we teach our kids the lessons we learned from them about being a parent and leave the how to grow up and have a happy life for them to figure out.

Despite all the books out there on how to live and how to have a happy life we still all need to live, make choices and learn from our mistakes as well as our successes.

So consider all those self-help books – mine included, as books of suggestions. Try on the things that are suggested but feel free to discard anything that doesn’t work.

So many of my plans for a great life didn’t work out the way I planned them. I think that may be why the hospital neglected to give me that instruction book for my life. The full instructions are still being tested and improved.

Hope you are successful at designing and constructing a happy life for yourself. Remember there is time to write another chapter right up till the Great Editor adds the “The end.”

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life.

You can recover. Your cruising along the road of life and then wham, something knocks you in the ditch. If you have gone through a divorce, break up, or lost a job your life may have gotten off track. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel that explores the world of a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Other books are due out soon; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on my writing projects, speaking and teaching, along with comments on recent news in the field of counseling – sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page or my Facebook author’s page, David Joel Miller. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.