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Goal-Free Living: How to Have the Life You Want Now! Hardcover – 20 Jan 2006

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; 1 edition (20 Jan. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471772801
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471772804
  • Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 0.2 x 24.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 703,708 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

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.

About the Author

STEPHEN M. SHAPIRO is a recognized expert and professional speaker on the topics of creativity and innovation. He is the founder of the 24/7 Innovation Group, a management education and research organization focused on innovation and breakthrough business thinking. A former consultant at Accenture, he founded that firm′s Process Excellence Practice. You can learn more about goalfree living at

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Top Customer Reviews

By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 12 Oct. 2006
Format: Hardcover
Many people live their lives to please others -- their parents, their spouses, their employers or their friends. Others find themselves caught up in cookbook advice that will lead to being wealthy . . . such as live where the costs are low (but there are drawbacks to living in the middle of the Sahara Desert). Still others pick goals and never get around to rechecking their choices.

Creativity expert Stephen Shapiro challenges these people to get in touch with themselves and pursue a life that pleases them every day . . . not just on days when major goals are accomplished or praise is won from others. It's a noble and worthwhile message.

Although Mr. Shapiro was not a teenager in the 1960s, he could have been. Many of the book's themes will resonate powerfully with those who love New Age approaches learned in those distant days. In addition, his viewpoint is one that those in the Judeo-Christian tradition will find comfortable.

His concept is boiled down from 150 interviews with those leading pleasing lives into the following principles:

Use a compass, not a map (this allows you to be flexible in making progress towards uncovering and enjoying your passions)

Trust that you are never lost (look around to see what's good about where you are and keep moving ahead rather than sticking with the past)

Remember that opportunity knocks often, but sometimes softly (listen to that wee, quiet voice within -- Christians will like this advice!)

Want what you have (appreciate everything: it's all good for you)

Seek out adventure (be open to that road less traveled and go for the zest every day!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was recommended to me at a time that I felt like my life had collapsed around me. It hadn't, of course. It was just that my goal of growing old with my partner and our not-yet-conceived children was shattered.

As someone who judged their success in life by achievement of goals, a goal being rendered impossible called for a radical rethink.

This book started by reassuring me that I am not alone: apparently 41% of Americans say that achieving their goals has not made them happier. Reading the prologue helped me totally connect with Shapiro, as he explains how not only has he too lost a relationship, but it also took him several go's to finally become goal-free.

Let's set the record straight - Shapiro does not advocate becoming completely goal-free. That would go against the wisdom of previous management research by people such as Latham and Locke, who proved that people are more motivated when they are working towards goals. Instead, he is advocating that we set our intentions for our life (set our compass) and use goals as useful tools during our quest.

Separating our lives from our goals enables us to be less attached to them. As Shapiro says, we "use a compass, not a map". It enables us to live in the moment, without worrying what happens in the future. As we are never in total control of the future (as I painfully found out), we will live a much happier life if we just live by our guiding principles and accept life as it happens. In other words, we have serendipity.

Most of the rest of the book desribes the benefits of living goal-free.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9928b900) out of 5 stars 25 reviews
54 of 57 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x98b28360) out of 5 stars A book with real advice on living a great life 6 Jan. 2006
By Mark P. McDonald - Published on
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.
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x950af72c) out of 5 stars Excellent, fresh, and practical 28 Jan. 2006
By O. Merce Brown - Published on
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!

25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x93fb1a5c) out of 5 stars Need a confusion-free sequel 1 July 2006
By Dr. Cathy Goodwin - Published on
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.

In the end, this book seems to be more about taking control of your life and getting an honest sense of what you want. Most of the content seems good, if not especially original. Why get hung up on whether you're following or not following goals?

And what if we decide to follow some of the author's recommendations, such as, "Become a people magnet." Are we or are we not pursuing a goal? And who cares?
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x98b28798) out of 5 stars A refreshing viewpoint 14 Feb. 2006
By P. Lozar - Published on
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.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x98b28948) out of 5 stars The Fun & Effectiveness of Living in the Moment 4 Aug. 2006
By Karen Lyu - Published on
Format: Hardcover
As an experienced voice instructor, I see students all the time who work really hard at their goal of "trying to sing". What inevitably happens is that they strain their throats, stick their necks out and hurt themselves in the process!

In order to really sing beautifully, easily and expressively, we need to relax, breathe and align ourselves with our passion in the moment (not worrying about what just happened or what should happen next).

Stephen Shapiro's goal-free take on life reminds me that this is also true in the rest of your life -- and I definitely have been needing the reminder lately!

As our music school's executive director with major fundraising deadlines, it's been MUCH more of a challenge.

Goal-free Living helped me to look at my past 2 years and realize that the times I have gotten the best results were the times that I was open to the flow and serendipity of life in the moment and took care of myself. The times that I was stressed, overworking and desperate were the times that I was the least effective. The past week was living proof!

Thank you Stephen for your fun, inspiring and life-changing book!

From another perspective, many of the tools he recommends are easy to understand explanations of Buddhist philosophies that have been working and respected for centuries.

And what incredible people he interviewed! The fascinating stories of the voodoo priest, the dating club members, the CIO of Intel are worth your time and money alone. I'd love to see a sequel of all the interesting stories and people that couldn't fit into this book.
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