June 26, 2013

Lost Goals, Passivity and Fear

June 26, 2013

What happens when you realize you have no goals?

This happened to me. One of the lowest points in my recent past (early spring 2013) was coming to the realization that I stopped planning my own future, setting my own goals and creating a vision for the future. This was scary. What do you do when you don’t know what to do? It’s like getting in your car and starting to drive but not knowing where you ought to go, who should come with you and why you’re even in the car in the first place. You are just doing without reason. This should seem pretty crazy. It is what happens when you become passive.

The road to passive is paved with the desire for acceptance and the absence of ambition. I don’t know if this is a truth but for me, I wanted people to like me more than I wanted to be me. I hate confrontation. I am sure most people do. But what happens when you don’t assert yourself, your ideas, your points of view or your opinions because you’re afraid to be rejected? You become passive. You become a receptacle for inputs and you respond in ways that will not disappoint or require you to object. Simply put, this is fear.

I was afraid. I was afraid to lose my job. I was afraid people would find out I am a fraud. I was afraid that I was out of my depth. I was afraid of rejection. I was afraid to disappoint my co-workers. I was afraid to disappoint my family.

Living with this type of fear was stressful. It’s not rational but when you’re on an eggshell treadmill doing things to please others and avoid rejection at all costs, your mind is working against you. I am sure my stress hormones (i.e. cortisol) were constantly flowing through my body. I put on weight. I drank more. I was exhausted. I was angry. I was reactionary. I was becoming a pathetic asshole. I had to get off this treadmill.

This is the journey I am on now. I am off the treadmill for the most part but it’s tempting and often easy to step back on for a nice dose of low impact life. It takes work to stay off and forge a new groove. So, it’s time to ditch fear.

I am starting with me. The first goal is to crush the fear and mute the desire to be accepted. And how do we quell our need for acceptance? With love. That love must come from within. The love of oneself. The love that makes us better and want to help others have love.

Chris Brogan, not to long ago, interviewed Kamal Ravikant about the topic of his simple and profound book, Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It. Kamal’s book describes the truth he found recovering from his lowest point of illness and depression and the power of self-love. This notion may seem too new-agey or, for some, even narcissistic (although narcissists don’t really love themselves). It’s the idea of truly being in love with yourself can make you feel like you can do anything. Remembering when we were first in love—not infatuation but truly in love, we felt the world could bring us no ill. If we can have this love within, we can have that same feeling about the world. That feeling that we can handle anything the world throws at us because we’re in love.

I’ve started with this one goal. Other goals are starting to slowly bubble up through the crusty shale formed by passivity. Fear is waning. I’ll call that a win.

Did you find this post enjoyable or helpful? As always, your comments and thoughts are encouraged. Subscribe and get my latest posts by email or in your feed reader.


  1. Terrific post Jay! Congratulations on seeing, identifying, recovering and proceeding as a work-in-progress - a super place to be!

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    1. Jodie, thanks for your kind words. It's the work in progress that was missing. I was coasting; a zombie. Zombies are not alive. That's not good for anyone...

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  2. Wow, beautiful in your vulnerability and honesty. Know that you are not alone in this and that sharing this will help many others. It is a theme more common that you may realize. Congratulations on first steps. But caution on getting overly caught up in goal-setting. It's great to have challenges to aim for and accomplish, but there will always be something else after that. Sometimes it is also helpful to consider the Buddhist perspective,

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    1. Mary, Thanks for thoughts on this. It is because I realized I was not alone in these feelings that allowed me to post this. I understand your point of goal-setting as a possible source of frustration. The realization was that I had no goals of my own—that all I did was serve the needs and goals of others, the business and obligations of family. These are important but losing myself in those and not having anything of my own was a shock.

      I know you had some other thoughts to ad, please let me know if you had more to say. Either reply again or send me an email.

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  3. Absolutely lovely stuff. Brave stuff. You've really said it all here.

    Things to do:

    1.) Mourn the lost time only briefly.
    2.) Stop that.
    3.) Start doing things.

    If babies thought long and hard about every time they fell down, they'd never learn to walk. You and me? We're mind-babies. : )

    So thrilled you're on the journey!

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    1. Chris,

      Thanks as always for your advice. You've played a bigger part in my growth than I know how to say. You continue to shine light where it's needed. And indeed, we are mind-babies. I love it.

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  4. I applaud your honesty and can relate on many levels...thank you for the inspiration!

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    1. Charlie, Thank you. I hope it helps you as I have found help in the stories of pain and growth of others.

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  5. Hi again...the end of my previous sentence was about the Buddhist perspective:

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