Notes from a Floating Life Thoughts about productivity, digital living, and leading a simpler life

Goals as Research and Development

I’m not a big fan of goals. Instead, I have intentions. Why? Mainly because goals carry certain expectations. Not with me, but with others.

Goals seem to be a declaration of what you will do, no matter what. If I, or anyone, make goals public I’m expected to succeed and reach those goals. In a number of quarters, there is no tolerance for failure. And, to be honest, I don’t want to bother with enduring the slings and arrows of naysayers. Not that I’m wounded by those slings and arrows, but I’d rather direct my time and energy towards doing something worthwhile.

Intentions, on the other hand, are an expression of what I’m going to try to do. If I realize those intentions, that’s great. If not, I’ll learn from my failure.

In both cases, there’s much to learn. That’s where the idea of research and development comes in.

Whenever I go about tackling intentions, there are usually steps that I follow. I often have something resembling a plan. While I don’t track everything I do in minute detail, I can definitely remember what went right and what went wrong. If not, I’ll consult my journal to refresh my memory.

Whether or not I realize an intention, I’ve amassed a store of experience and knowledge. That’s the research part. Development comes when I look at what went wrong and what went right. Then, I adapt those lessons to what I plan to do next.

Few, if any, useful experiences are wasted. I don’t make the same mistakes, and I experiment with ways around new problems and situations.

In the end, what I learn is just as important (if not more so) than successfully realizing an intention.

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