The Beginning of the NOW Paradigm; The Edge of the GOALS Paradigm

by Michael Simmons on Apr 18, 2013

For the past 15 years, I’ve been living in the GOALS PARADIGM:

1. Create a life mission.
2. Set long-term goals that lead to that mission.
3. Set short-term S.M.A.R.T. goals.
4. Identify the most key daily outcomes that lead to the short-term goals.
5. Create an accountability system to ensure outcome completion.

This paradigm has been incredibly powerful in my life and has led to a lot of things that I appreciate most. As I’ve evolved, so to have the goals.

However, over the last few months, a new NOW PARADIGM has arisen alongside the GOALS PARADIGM. The pain of experiencing the limits of the goals paradigm created the possibility of awareness of a new one.

The Goals Paradigm transforms experience through action plans to be, do, and have what one currently doesn’t. The now paradigm paradoxically transforms experience by radically appreciating whatever comes up in the present moment whether or not it is originally perceived as good or bad / desirable or undesirable.

Goals can feel empty, because we bring ourself along for the journey, not a new person. If we are constantly resisting what’s happening in life now, then we will be doing so in the future, regardless of the goal.

As much as goals make us feel in control of life, 99% of the moment-to-moment experience of life is spontaneous and unpredictable and subject to ebbs and flows we have little control over.

The two paradigms do not negate each other. Creating goals doesn’t innately mean not appreciating what’s happening now. Appreciating now doesn’t mean surrendering the control we do have.

I am appreciative that this new perspective on life is ‘clicking’ after years of being right in front of me, and I am excited for the journey. I am aware that living the now paradigm is a process that can take years, decades, or even a life-time.


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I'm the co-founder of Empact, one of the leading entrepreneurship education organizations in the world. I'm obsessed with understanding how we all can lead meaningful lives that have a positive social impact. I love probing into the truth of how we experience life. I believe that challenges are what make us grow the most, and I openly share my experiences. Continue reading…