How to Ditch Your Goals and Still Get Ahead

Lately, we at Conzpire have been talking about FUN. We’ve been goal-oriented in the past, we’ve worked hard and we’ve passed up opportunities so that we can live purpose-driven lives. But sometimes we get so caught up in the greater meaning of things that we get stressed out, stop sleeping, forget to eat (those guys, not me!), or spend every single sunny day at a Starbucks working our butts off. Basically, we forget to have fun.

That’s what happened to me around the end of last year. I was so psyched to get into an MFA program. I thought, Finally, structure and support to finish my novel! And I did get those things, along with heapings of craft. But something weird also happened.

I got majorly stuck.

I couldn’t figure it out. After all, I was learning so much more. I was exactly where I’d dreamed I would be. But my writing objected. It was more technically ideal than ever before. But none of it seemed worth reading.

Thomas M. Sterner discusses this paradox in The Practicing Mind: “when you constantly focus on the goal you are aiming for, you push it away instead of pulling it toward you. In every moment of your struggle, by looking at the goal and constantly referencing your position to it, you are affirming to yourself that you haven’t reached it.”

That’s when I knew I had to try something new. I decided to choose to have fun. Aside from sticking to a deadline, fun has been the driving force behind all my creative choices so far. And while it still remains to be seen whether the writing I’ve done this year gains any publishing cred, I can say that my work now feels more risky, alive and playful than anything I’ve done in a long time.

So my writing challenge to you today: Have more fun! How can you have more fun with your writing, you ask?

My number 1 tip: indulge your curiosity.

Image: AForestFrolic, Flickr

Maybe you’ve always wondered what was up with tarot cards or the numbers “11:11” or an abandoned building. But you’ve let the thought go, figuring it has nothing to do with your current writing project anyway. But that’s the thing about the creative process—to some extent, it thrives on chaos more than it does on order. So here’s your chance to infuse more fun in your life and your writing. Unleash that curiosity. Let go of the outcomes. Trust that your curiosity is guiding you to something, either for you, your character or your story.


About Mei Li Ooi

Writer. Editor. Diet Rebel.

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