money health weekly


Living Without Financial Goals


"A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving."

-Lao Tzu


It's hot as we drive through wine country, but we don't mind. We live in Minnesota; the windows are rolled down as we enjoy the heat. We arrive at our first winery near Geyserville, California.

Inside the winery, we do our tasting, check out the grounds, learn about wine generally and their wines specifically. Before heading back to the car we walk through their garden and get a couple more photos before taking off to the next winery. We are trying to hit as many wineries as we can. You might say our goal was to visit a specific list of wineries today, and a new list of wineries tomorrow.

As we're sitting outside at a picnic table eating lunch at our third winery, we realize we're tired. We are staying at a place that has a hot tub outside with a nice view. We pivot. We buy a bottle of wine from the grocery store and go back to base camp.

The next day on our morning run we decide to tone it down. We want to go to exactly two wineries. This time we will be staying at each of them a lot longer, enjoying the winery, learning more about their wines, and relaxing outside.

Some might say that our vacation was a failure. Indeed, we did not hit our goal of visiting all the wineries we had in mind. But instead of focusing on how many wineries we visited, we were able to focus on opportunities we almost missed, like staying longer at fewer wineries, having good conversations, and relaxing. We changed our minds in part because we realized that we didn't predict how tiring and unrelaxing it is to constantly hurry from place to place.

We view our vacation as a success. Instead of focusing on the original desired outcome of visiting a large list of wineries, we focused on the process of enjoying our time, the weather, each other, and living in the present. We changed our minds when we wanted to.

Living a life without financial goals is like vacationing without a set plan.

goals don't matter

Goals: The Traditional View