Thoughts by Bruno Bernardino

No ambition. No goals.

How I’m planning to live my life from now on.

August, 2014

Douro River, Oporto.


For a long time I’d written my short list (my most important commitments, a cue from Leo Babauta), goals and ambitions, and from time to time I’d check-in on these to make sure I was still aligned with them.

Then a couple of weeks ago, something interesting happened: I had to talk about my ambition. I was feeling something was off, but I kept talking, I mean, I had given “my ambition” a lot of thought before, and I’d checked in to make sure it was still making sense. I was still on track, right? Right?

I recently read Everything that Remains and there was something there I was struggling to understand, around having no goals. It made sense, but at the same time, it didn’t.

Reflect on it. Seriously.

I decided to take an hour to reflect on my ambitions, goals, and priorities.

Literally, scheduled an hour after my daily end-of-workday meditation, with just me, my balcony, a paper, and a pencil. My phone was muted. I was alone with my thoughts.

I’ve done that before to properly think about something, and the results have always been astonishing.

The trick is to really take the hour. I mean, you can think that you’ve solved your problem in 10 minutes and feel the urge to move on to the next task, but if mindfulness has taught me something, is that there’s immense value in just being in the moment. Enjoying it. Savoring it.

I wrote down my Ambitions, Passions, Priorities, and Goals. A 2x2 table.

And in fact, in 10 minutes, I thought I had it sorted out. But I forced myself to keep looking at that table.

I started thinking about how my goals, priorities, and passions didn’t have a direct impact in my “ultimate ambition”. To achieve my “ultimate ambition”, I had to do something else. But that couldn’t be right. I’m a big believer in following your passion. I was following my passion. I was loving what I did every day, how could that be wrong?

The result

I’ve spoiled it with the title, but after some thinking, I scratched off my goals and ambitions.

I’ve decided to simply follow my passions, according to my priorities.

Because that is what allows me to enjoy my day, every day.

Every day, after my daily review (I do it before my daily end-of-workday meditation, for 5–10 minutes), I review what I did and what should I have done better, along with which passions I did not exercise, to plan the next day better.

I’ve noticed that while performing that exercise, every time I followed any of my passions according to my priorities resulted in almost instant happiness.

So, in the end, it’s not that I’m doing things very differently now, but letting go of my ambitions and goals has provided me some mind de-cluttering, allowing me to focus more on what’s important. The now.


Bruno Bernardino

Written by Bruno Bernardino.
Thoughts can change, disappear, or simply be observed.

Go back to all thoughts.