written by LOU BLASER

A version of this essay first appeared in Midlife Cues, a weekly newsletter about intentional living in our middle years. Get it in your inbox; you're going to love it.


I get very excited around the New Year. And that excitement usually gets converted into goals.

Lots of goals. Tiny ones. Big hairy audacious ones too.

For the last couple of years, though, I’ve been asking myself some questions as I set these goals.

Some are uncomfortable, TBH.

  • What would this require from me?
  • What can I remove to make space for this?
  • What do I need to learn to move this forward?
  • Who can help me move this forward?
  • What is the crucial first step?

For that first question, I’m trying to hone in on my capacity and resources: mental, emotional, energy, time, etc.

The second and fourth ones usually give me the most heartburn. 😅

But asking these questions has been a game-changer for me.

There’s no point in setting goals if we’re not going to help ourselves meet them, right?


Our beautiful new goals don’t exist in a vacuum. We set them within the context of all the things going on in our lives.

I think Donald Christian, my guest on Second Breaks way back in Ep 149, said it best:

We sometimes over-index and think a lot about the outputs that we’re trying to achieve defined by how many hours we work or how much money we make, all those different measures. But we forget all the roles that we need to play and if we have the capacity or resiliency to perform well in all of those roles. — Donald Christian, PwC partner

Don’t just think of desired outcomes. Think of required inputs too.


  • I know some of us didn’t welcome 2023 in the best set of circumstances. If you’re feeling low in spirit and thinking, “What’s the point?” this one’s for you. You Still Have Time.
  • We’ve all heard the sage advice, do more of what you enjoy and less of what you don’t. Sure. But easier said than done, right? Enter Anti-Goals. Here’s one of my favorite people on the interwebs, Justin Welsh, describing how to set anti-goals.
  • There’s a good chance you know about SMART goals. If you’re like me, you were probably taught to set goals this way at work. But are setting SMART goals really the smart way to go? 🤭  Is there a better way? Here’s the very smart Ann-Laure Le Cunff talking about why it may be time to ditch SMART goals and why making a PACT is better. (I know, another acronym – but you’ll like it!)


“Are you working to connect the dots, or to merely collect more dots?” — Seth Godin

I think connecting the dots is what gives life meaning and purpose.


Quit: The Power of Knowing When to Walk Away by Annie Duke

I’ve just started reading this book and cannot put it down!

Duke is a professional poker player. And there’s no one better than a poker player to shed light on when to hold and when to fold.*

This book reframes quitting so that we can think of it as the important and strategic skill that it is.

*This book isn’t about poker!


My friend, Yvonne Marchese, and I are doing an experiment this year.

We’re sharing our real conversations on each other’s podcasts.

Instead of interview-based episodes, these are unscripted conversations that she and I have anyway about life in our middle years and our attempts to make the most of it! We’re sharing instead of hoarding them.

This one just dropped on Late Bloomer Living (Yvonne’s podcast).

We talked about how we’re planning (or not) 2023 and how we’re making space for goals AND serendipity. Among other things 😉


Done talking about goals already? I’m sorry for adding to the pile. I promise no more goal talk for the rest of January. 🤭

The last thing I want to share, though, is not about goals exactly but about lessons learned.

One habit I’ve adopted over the last few years is to reflect and articulate the 5 lessons I learned from my experiences of the year.

I shared it as a bonus episode on the podcast, but you can also read it here.

Okidoki, let’s wrap this up.

Here’s to an awesome 2023, my reader friend. Hit ‘reply’ and send comments on any of these topics, your non-goal goals, even lessons you wished you didn’t have to learn but did!

Cool Beans,
Lou Blaser


A former management consultant and IT leader, Lou Blaser is the editor of Midlife Cues and the host of the Second Breaks podcast. She is also the author of Break Free: The Courage to Reinvent Yourself and Your career. Lou’s work is focused on exploring how to navigate, thrive, and turn midlife into the best phase in our life.