I am not a man without goals or ambition. Particularly in the scope of travel, I’ve got quite a bit planned for my future. But these are bucket list items. I made these goals solely for my own benefit and enjoyment. There is no bigger picture associated with my travel plans. No one will remember that I took those trips after I die.
Now that I retired from the practice of law, I realize that I no longer have any lofty life goals. I have no plans that will change the world. No one will remember me after I’m gone. At first, this didn’t really bother me. After all, most people – even famous and successful people – pass away out of our memories. Few people are remembered beyond their immediate families. And even then, those memories tend to fade after 3 or 4 generations.
And I’ve never had much realistic expectation of going down in history in any meaningful way. Even at my most ambitious, I’ve never been that ambitious. Nowadays, my attitude toward life is much more carefree than it has ever been. I merely want to enjoy my short tenure on this planet. And my every instinct tells me that I won’t be living to a ripe old age. So I focus on living in the present. I see no point in planning an elaborate future that may not happen.
Frankly, I think this obsession with legacy shopping – “changing the world” and “making a difference” is a privilege of the first world and even among the first world, realistic only for those who are well off. Most people are too busy surviving and making ends meet from paycheck to paycheck. They can’t afford to spend their time or effort to do anything more profound with their lives. But we engage in this vanity exercise because establishing a legacy is the closest thing our species can get to immortality.
Direction & Motivation
After 10 months of being back in Green Bay, I’m still no closer to knowing where I want to move to or what I want to do for income than I was when I got back from the North American Road Trip. I thought that maybe if I had some loftier goals, that it would bring my priorities into focus. But I can’t think of anything meaningful to do with my passions – travel and horror – that would rise to the level of a “life goal”. I have travel goals, but I don’t know what I can bring to my travels that would have an impact on the world that isn’t already being done by dozens of bloggers and YouTubers. And while building corpses certainly brings me pleasure, I can see myself reaching a plateau on where I can go with that craft.
Now all of this might well be a lack of imagination on my part. I’ve certainly brainstormed some ideas, but none really speak to me. Even if I could come up with a brilliant idea that would motivate me for years to come… I’m not sure that I really want to go through the struggle or competition to realize those dreams. Maybe – even after 12 months – I’m still burned out from being a lawyer. But ambition eludes me. Not just because I can’t find something meaningful to motivate me, but because I just don’t have the drive to do anything meaningful.
Are Life Goals Necessary?
It’s weird. I’ve been drifting aimlessly for the past 12 months and I’ve enjoyed this existence. But when I try to plan for the future – even just a few months at a time – drifting aimlessly bothers me. I feel like I need a goal to bring my life back into focus. And yet, it’s been all this time retired and without goals that I’ve been feeling happier than ever before. Which begs the question – do I (or anyone else for that matter) NEED life goals?
Ask people living paycheck to paycheck, and I think you’d get a lot of “no” answers. I mean, they might have life goals. But I think they would recognize that life goals aren’t necessary to live. Not like food and shelter, and money to pay for those things.
I don’t have an answer for myself. This question haunts me. It bothers me to not have life goals, but the pursuit of identifying a worthy goal is frustrating me.