I hate my brain and the mess it creates. As someone who is sliding far down the other side of the mountain (aka I am older than most of you), I have endured a long history of setting goals and expectations.Yes, in some ways it has made me successful, but in other ways I think it has held me back. Because many times the goals we set for ourselves are not relevant or helpful or achievable. Thus, some of my best brain power has been spent on the wrong activities. What would it look like if I was untethered from artificial goals and expectations?

What would happen if I could have removed the self-imposed pressure of artificial goals & expectations?

I can’t say that I have even remotely figured this out, but I do think I am getting closer to that moment of personal zen. Or maybe it’s just gas – who knows.

To move towards a more untethered state, I am focusing on these meta areas:

Motivation. Money, power, respect (this is my biggie) are a few of the more typical motives. Other human motivations include achievement, social approval, and intimacy. So where do you fit in? Are your motivations yours or others (yes, Dad – I will take that business class this semester.) Said another way, why are you here? Jerry Colonna asked me this one day and then did not let me off the hook until I scraped away and got to the good stuff (back to Dad). 

To be clear, to be untethered from artificial goals & expectations, you must really understand what YOU are motivated to do and then make that your primary driver. The rest falls into place from there.

Authenticity. This easily follows motivation (or maybe the other way around – it does not matter I think). When we are younger and building our career, we try on many suits (a simple metaphor for personality, expression, point-of-view – you get the picture). It is our least authentic period. But later and hopefully not too late, we find our real identity. It takes a good amount of self-awareness to truly get to that magic place. Out of this is where you find your gold. 

When you don’t have to re-position or re-frame us, we get to spend more time in that moment being just us. I know what I am good at and conversely I know what I suck at. I know what I want and I know what motivates me to prioritize those behaviors that are in sync with the real me. 

Fulfillment. The mac-daddy of goals & expectations. Wealth, status or approval are traps, plain and simple. They create actions and behaviors that get in the way of innovation and progress. Why? Deep down, you are aware that these needs do not make you a whole person. And your peers know it too. They may not be able to articulate it but it is out there like an invisible stink and everyone knows it. 

How am I fulfilled? Personal growth (I am taking guitar lessons for a year and a half after threatening for over 10 years.) I am also focusing on personal satisfaction in the time I am spending with others (I still hold open/scheduled/office hours and meet great founders every week). I also  very much love to write (not just these blogs but hopefully soon a 3rd book).

I certainly understand that these are important to me and my list and process may not be relevant to you. I also acknowledge that I may be attempting to sum up human psychology in 600 words from a geographer, entrepreneur, investor and startup community enthusiast. In other words tread carefully here. 😉