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Goal-Free Living: How to Have the Life You Want NOW! Hardcover – January 3, 2006

4.0 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

We are taught from a young age that in order to achieve great success we must set and achieve our goals. However, in doing so, we become focused on where we are going rather than enjoying where we are right now. We sacrifice today in the hope that a better future will emerge, only to discover that achievement rarely leads to true joy. Goal-Free Living presents an alternative philosophy—that we can have an extraordinary life now, all without goals and detailed plans. By living for each moment, it's possible to have a successful life and follow your passions at the same time.

This amazing book shares the personal discovery of consultant Stephen Shapiro, who achieved professional success only to find that personal satisfaction remained elusive. He wanted to escape the treadmill of goal-chasing and find a way to make his life truly rewarding. So over 90 days, he drove 12,000 miles and interviewed 150 extraordinary people from all walks of life to learn how they lived fulfilling, happy lives. Along the way, he discovered the eight secrets to living life free from the constant pressure of goals:

  • Use a compass, not a map—have a sense of direction, and then let yourself wander and try new things on the way to fulfilling your aspirations
  • Trust that you are never lost—every seemingly wrong turn is an opportunity to learn and experience new things
  • Remember that opportunity knocks often, but sometimes softly—while blindly pursuing our goals, we often miss unexpected and wonderful possibilities
  • Want what you have—measure your life by your own yardstick and appreciate who you are, what you do, and what you have . . . now
  • Seek out adventure—treat your life like the one-time-only journey it is and revel in new and different experiences
  • Become a people magnet—constantly seek, build, and nurture relationships with new people so that you always have the support and camaraderie of others
  • Embrace your limits—transform your inadequacies and boundaries into unique qualities you can use to your advantage
  • Remain detached—focus on the present, act with a commitment to the future, and avoid worrying about how things will turn out

Goal-Free Living offers practical guidance on putting these valuable lessons to work in your own life every day. Take them to heart and you'll be free of the tyranny of goals—and experience a life truly worth living.

From the Back Cover

Praise for Goal Free Living

Setting goals may be fine. But letting your goals take control of your life can be devastating. Goal-Free Living shows you how to explore paths in your life you never knew existed and discover a more exciting, successful, and rewarding life—today!

"If you have only one goal this year, let it be this: Read Goal-Free Living!"
—Daniel H. Pink author, A Whole New Mind and Free Agent Nation

"Stephen Shapiro's approach will help readers achieve the best kind of happenstance: taking a stance to make things happen."
—Heath Row Contributing Editor and Community Director, Fast Company magazine

"I have a sense that reading this book may turn out to be one of the most important things I've done in a long time."
—Doug Busch Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Digital Health Group, Intel Corporation

"This is an engaging, creative approach to discovering inner wisdom and personal fulfillment."
—Michael J. Gelb author, How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci and Discover Your Genius

"Reading Goal-Free Living is like jettisoning a hundred-pound pack. Suddenly, you're racing much faster and enjoying the breeze."
—Alan Weiss, PhD author, Million Dollar Consulting

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley (January 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471772801
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471772804
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.1 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,704,742 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There are tons of self help books that basically tell you to follow my plan and you will achieve your dreams. This is not one of them-- which is a very good thing. I am not a fan of self help books and this is not one of them.

Shapiro has taken a different look at the issue of you and your success and turned it on its head. The idea is simple, while we may keep score based on our goals, our quality of life is not based on the score but rather how we play the game.

If you think about it, that is important and something that is easy to lose sight of. Goal Free living helps you get that back into your sights and better your life.

The book does provide eight tools for you really apply to your daily life. A plan is for a person, tools are things that everyone can use. Those tools include:

> Use a compass, not a map

> Trust that you are never lost

> Remember that opportunity knocks often, but sometimes softly

> Want what you have

> Seek out adventure

> Become a people magnet

> Embrace your limits

> Remain detached

These eight secrets are presented in an actionable format and illustrated with stories about real and remarkable people. People that you can relate to, not a one in a million superstar who you can admire but not emulate. Those stories and Shapiro's unique conversational style make them accessible.

I highly recommend this book as it will cause you to pause, evaluate what you are doing, and adopt the tools that can improve your life.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase

This book, Goal-Free Living by Stephen Shapiro, offers just what it promises---practical ways to have the life you want WITHOUT setting goals. The material is fresh and very useful. Each concept has many concrete applications so that you can easily see how you personally can live your life and accomplish things without formal goals.

As a high achiever with a Type-A personality, having strived for excellence my whole life, I now find myself middle-aged and very, very tired. I find the author's apporach VERY stress-relieving. I paradoxically find that I get more done, and the "right" things done as well, when I follow the concepts in the book.

I am a big fan of Stephen Shapiro's blog at [...] and read it daily. It's full of useful articles. Browse it to "get a taste" of the book and to see what you think. The author also offers a free discussion guide there.

As others have mentioned, it is full of information, but a fast and easy read (maybe 3-5 hours depending upon how quickly you read). Highly recommended!

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Format: Hardcover
From a marketing perspective, the title works. As a career consultant, I meet many people who are terrified of goals and, at the same time, desire a new life that can be delivered as quickly as a cheese pizza.

But in choosing a "goal-free" premise, author Shapiro finds himself doing just what he argues against. On page 61, Shapiro brings up the New Age slogan, "What you focus on, expands." Following through, he needs to heed the wisdom of the classic law of attraction authors. Instead of seeking to be debt-free, they tell us, we should see prosperity. The universe hears the word "debt" and gives us more.

Whether you accept law of attraction or think it's hokey, I'd say it's important to demand consistency. Self-contradiction can be a credibility buster.

That said, why write a book based on the premise of something you don't want? What replaces goals -- spontaneity? serendipity? seizing the moment?

In attacking goals, Shapiro uses a very specific concept of goals. At one point he compares having goals to following a recipe. The best cooks, he says, eventually learn to create their own recipes. But, as he acknowledges, they know what they're not using.

Shapiro also seems to attack goals that come from others. Most career consultants would agree. Those who become lawyers, doctors and salespersons to satisfy a parent's dream often become restless and dissatisfied. But some people dream of those very achievements, which call for considerable sacrifice along the way.

Finally, Shapiro loses credibility for me when he relies on Myers-Briggs to differentiate goal-oriented vs goal-free individuals. Everyone should read Annie Paul's book, The Cult of Personality, before resorting to the controversial and unscientific MBTI.
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Format: Hardcover
I first heard about this book from an interview with the author on Tom Peters' web site. Shapiro's viewpoint was intriguing, but I wondered whether, as with many other business books, this would turn out to be the informational equivalent of a 10-page article, puffed up with enough hot air to make it book-length.

Fortunately, it's not like that. While the "Secrets of Goal-Free Living" can be listed in half a page of text, the chapter on each "secret" includes ample illustrations of how it works: anecdotes from Shapiro's personal experience, research findings, statistical data, interviews, etc.; so what sounds like a simplistic platitude in the chapter heading often turns out to be a profound statement about life. And his questions for the reader to ponder are stimulating. I was especially intrigued by his story of how he came to write this book (which was NOT the book he originally set out to write); it's a classic instance of what goal-free living is all about.

I've seen far too many examples of goals gone wrong: disastrous marriages because someone was determined to start their family by age 25, missed oportunities ("If you join the Peace Corps, you'll be 2 years late in starting medical school"), bad career decisions (including my first) because someone was pressured to choose a specific goal before they knew what they really wanted to do with their life, and profound disappointment when someone achieved a long-pursued goal, only to be confronted with "What's next?" (And, from many years of dieting, I can vouch that goal-setting is NOT a magical formula for success!) I heartily endorse Shapiro's advice to set your "compass" in a general direction, but to live in the present and remain open to the opportunities it offers; if you're constantly living for the future, you'll miss all the joy in the present moment.
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