Goallessness and Free-Flow Writing

How do you feel when you hear the word GOALLESS?

This word gives me instant relief in my body and mind. It’s a sweet antidote to the part of me that strives.

Though we’re collectively in a goal-setting, intention-making, forward-looking New Year frame of mind, I chose goallessness as the theme for this week’s Portland and Online WTG Circles because goallessness is gold in writing practice.

Goallessness is gold in all spiritual practices.

“The purpose of walking meditation is walking meditation itself.
Going is important, not arriving.”
~Tich Naht Hahn

For sure, this article is as much a reminder for me to practice goallessness in my writing practice and my life, as it is for me to share an aspect of writing practice with you.

Even our New Year’s resolutions, intentions, words, and mantras will benefit if treated as a goalless practice where we’re not trying to “get” anywhere, but to experience a quality of presence and a quality of ourselves more deeply.

Here's a way I look at spiritual practices that reminds me to lean into presence over outcome:

1.    When you do yoga, the goal isn’t arriving (reaching certain levels of technical skill, flexibility, or calm).

The goal of yoga is going – showing up on your mat and experiencing yourself:

1). mindfully matching each breath to a movement,
2). noticing and accepting where your body and mind are in that moment, and
3). trusting the process, even if the results are not apparent right away.

2.    When you do sitting meditation, the goal isn’t arriving (reaching certain levels of calm, clarity, or enlightenment).

The goal of sitting meditation is going – showing up on your cushion of comfy chair and experiencing yourself:

1). following your breath or mantra,  
2). noticing and accepting the thoughts that come and go without attachment or judgment, and
3). trusting the process, even if the results are not apparent right away.

3.    When you do free-flow writing practice, the goal isn’t arriving (writing gorgeous sentences, becoming a “better” writer, or getting published).

The goal of free-flow writing is going – showing up with your pen and notebook and experiencing yourself:

1). writing honestly what you think, feel, and sense in the moment,
2). noticing and accepting all that you write, and
3). trusting the process, even if the results are not apparent right away.

In each practice, when you focus on the process versus the outcome — the going versus the arriving — you experience gifts: clarity, presence, insight, spaciousness, gratitude, perspective, self-knowledge and awareness, authenticity, creative flow, freedom…

You experience yourself in a deeper state of presence and a true-er state of You!

Goallessness is simple!  But not so easy.

I believe goallessness challenges us because noticing, acceptance, and trust challenge us:

  • We’re impatient. We don’t believe noticing is enough. We want to judge and fix and change what we experience because we hold tightly to imagined outcomes. But it’s the noticing without judgment that allows for shifts and alchemy.
  • Nobody accepts themselves fully all the time. Self-acceptance is a life’s work.
  • Trust in the process requires faith, especially when our bodies feel stiff, not flowy, in yoga, or our mind is busy, not still, in sitting meditation, or our inner critic is on steroids, not chill, in free-flow writing. (And we forget that we're supposed to have different experiences in our practice day to day!)

What helps?

  • Forget about outcomes while doing the practice. (They’ll surprise you, anyway.)
  • Focus on the 3 pillars of practice: NOTICE  ACCEPT  TRUST
  • Remember that a practice is just that – practice. It’s not meant to be perfected. Yay!
  • Replace judgement with curiosity.
  • Be gentle and compassionate with yourself.

And remember, goallessness is gold.

Sounds like a mantra!

There are still a few seats in the WTG Online Circle this Thursday if you’d like to join us. I'll be sharing a few Marie Howe poems to dive into that are pretty special.

With love,

Want to write?
Take a pen & prompt journey:

writing prompt


Grab a pen & notebook. Write the prompt at the top of the page. Set a timer for 10 minutes. Or 5. Or 2!

Write whatever arises in your thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Don’t stop to think or edit - keep your pen moving.

Accept ALL that you write - the pretty & ugly; absurd & boring. Discover what wants to be felt, known, expressed, released...