All plans are useless until you implement them.

To be honest, I actually had a fear of planning. I thought I was committing myself to a future I was uncertain of.

To change my mindset, I had to tell myself a different story. One about growth without goals.

Here’s what I mean by growth without goals…

Adapting terminology from linguistics, we can say that ‘telic’ activities – from ‘telos’, the Greek word for purpose – are ones that aim at terminal states of completion and exhaustion. You teach a class, get married, start a family, earn a raise. Not all activities are like this, however. Others are ‘atelic’: there is no point of termination at which they aim, or final state in which they have been achieved and there is no more to do. Think of listening to music, parenting, or spending time with friends. They are things you can stop doing, but you cannot finish or complete them. Their temporality is not that of a project with an ultimate goal, but of a limitless process.

If the crisis diagnosed by Schopenhauer turns on excessive investment in projects, then the solution is to invest more fully in the process, giving meaning to your life through activities that have no terminal point: since they cannot be completed, your engagement with them is not exhaustive. It will not subvert itself. Nor does it invite the sense of frustration that Schopenhauer scorns in unsatisfied desire – the sense of being at a distance from one’s goal, so that fulfilment is always in the future or the past.

Kieran Setiya,
How Schopenhauer’s thought can illuminate a midlife crisis

Instead of tying myself down to the achievement of specific outcomes, I started to think about ‘atelic activities’ and how the plans I make lead to progression over time.

For example, over the next year, I hope to become a better writer.

To do this, I’ve started this daily blog with no other objective than to press send every day.

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