Success without Goals

“Just Keep Swimming”

Marissa Garza
Sep 15, 2013 · 4 min read

Let me start off by saying I am not, by the conventional sense of the word, a huge success story.

I’m a middle class gal still trying to pay off her student loans. While I may not be living the life of luxury, I have had successes in my life. Now that I’m over 30 and looking ahead to a new chapter in my life, I took some time to reflect on how I was successful.

As I looked over my life, one thing stood out — setting goals never really worked for me. In school and in the workplace we are taught to set goals and work to achieve them. There are workshops and acronyms on the subject and even day planners on the subject. Goal setting is a very lucrative business. All of that seems to be lost on me.


Upon graduating from college I set off to fulfill the goal I had chosen at age 18 — to become a high school History teacher. I worked hard in school to be successful, graduate, and be ready to lead the next generation of American students. I just had really bad timing. It was right in the middle of No Child Left Behind and hiring History teachers wasn’t on the mind of many school districts. This didn’t change the fact that I still needed a job.

I changed my focus to working in educational business. I was still connected to education, so I thought on some level I was still fulfilling my goal of educating children. Being an Operations Manager really wasn’t the same thing as teaching, but we all rationalize to make ourselves feel better.

A few years and few companies later, I found myself on the bad end of a restructuring and ended up unemployed. At age 29, I had to say goodbye to my single bedroom apartment and hello again to Mom and Dad’s!

I was devastated. What was I going to do?

Looking back at it, I can say one thing I didn’t do was set goals. I didn’t sit down and say, “I need to have a new job in 3 months.” I didn’t want to settle for a job just to start earning money again.

I knew that this was a moment I could use to turn my life in a different direction. So I spent time cultivating different skills and learning about new subjects. I found that I really enjoy working with and writing about social media. I started blogging on the subject. I helped others with web related projects. I listened to podcasts to keep up on the latest trends. I loved every minute of it. So I just went ahead and made it my career. I now work for a nonprofit managing their social media and webpage.


The other example of success in my life that comes to mind is my success with weight loss. I was never really a skinny kid. Growing up I was referred to a “big boned” and “big girl”. Don’t get me wrong, I tried different diets. I tried working out. I even tried diet pills. Nothing seemed to stick. So I just kinda accepted that maybe I was always meant to be a bit heavier than other people. When this happened, I decided to shift my focus onto addressing other health concerns of mine and stumbled upon the paleo diet.

When I first started researching about the Paleo diet, I had my doubts. Give up carbs,soy and dairy? For real? What am I going to eat? But then I read how the Paleo diet helps manage depression, anxiety, skin issues, and others health issues. So I decided to give it a go.

I started by making one meal a day paleo and went from there. Pretty soon I was eating a full paleo diet. Sandwiches were a thing of the past. While I was seeing improvements in the other health benefits I had read about, pounds were melting off of me faster than I had ever imagined.

I lost over 70 pounds in a little over 8 months. My doctor said I was the picture of health and so I just kept going.

I just kept going. I kept going so much that as I write this I am just 7 pounds shy of loosing a total of 100 pounds. When I first started, I didn’t make weight loss my main goal. It was a great side effect for my new way of eating. As I noticed the numbers on the scale going down, I never stopped to think about a goal weight. I just kept following a paleo lifestyle because it felt good.


Something we never learn in school is how to reflect on what makes us tick. What do we really enjoy? Not just what are we good at. What motivates us? Not just focusing on motivation techniques that seem to make sense.

I’m glad I took the time to realize that I can be successful without goals. Even if I set a goal, it’s ok if I don’t achieve it because I will probably succeed in something else.

In the end, I guess I’m most motivated by the Dory mantra of “Just keep swimming”. Success will happen.

Marissa Garza

Written by

Consultant | Social Media and Technology Enthusiast | Blogger | Foodie -- MTv didn't tell me the real world would be like this.

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