My unambitious goals for 2021—why I want to be less productive next year

The new year is a natural time to take stock of our lives and set goals or resolutions.

Even though there is nothing special about January 1st (and all the research shows that most people don’t stick to their resolutions), I have always participated in this age-old tradition.

In fact, I love setting and achieving goals. I admit that I don’t only do at the new year—I do it all the time.

Yet, as I have met goals and advanced, particularly in my career, I wouldn’t say that my life has gotten all that much better.

I used to think that achieving big goals at work—doing well on a project, getting a promotion, or even moving to a new job would make me happy.

Time and again, however, I realize that these achievements never bring the fulfilment or happiness that I thought they would. 

The problem, I believe, is focusing on my achievements at the expense of my lifestyle.

It is thinking that my self-worth is tied to my performance and productivity.

It is being a perfectionist, a workaholic, a people-pleaser.

It is my ambition.

I spent my youth, college years, and early professional life being an extremely ambitious person. I chased a high GPA and academic honors in school, and then promotions and high-performance reviews at work.

Each time I reached the next milestone, I thought that I would be happy. When I wasn’t, I figured that I needed to try harder. I moved the goalpost, sought the next shiny reward.

I am clear now that this level of ambition is not healthy and will not lead me to a happier, more fulfilled life.

That is why I started this blog and why I am embarking on a year-long experiment in unlearning ambition and challenging my obsession with productivity.

This year, I am setting goals to be less ambitious and less productive. I want to take more time off without guilt, set better boundaries with my time, and worry less about being perfect at everything—from major projects to simple emails.

I want to spend more time pursuing hobbies, strengthening relationships, and simply relaxing.

Look for another post soon about what I will be focusing on for the month of January.

Feel free to drop a comment or reach out if you also want to be less ambitious. I look forward to connecting!

-M

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