I’ll go out on a limb here and take a guess if you have been told once how important goal setting is you’ve been told a thousand times; by as many people. Well here’s a change of pace!
Focus Delivers Results
Goal setting by its’s very nature is the act of deciding what one wants. What you are prepared to dedicate your life time, money and effort to achieve. And that my friend is the problem. We can, if we want to achieve an Olympic Gold Medal or some other desired outcome set goals and that decision will prove brilliantly beneficial in in achieving those goals. However, it is important to understand these goals will not necessarily deliver lasting satisfaction with life…happiness if you like.
Ask yourself this question “do you know everything?” Of course not! In fact, as we have learned, YOU only really know a slither of what you think you know and that is a slither of what it is possible to know, if we were capable of knowing that much! Which we aren’t. When you decide something, make a commitment, set a goal two things happen. Firstly, as Johann Wolfgang Goethe points out, the act of commitment will draw to you all sort of assistance and help because you are committed. However, it also kills off any possibility that is contrary to the decision. This includes everything that may have come to you if you had made another decision. Who knows what you are missing out on!
When you decide…you kill!
When you decide, you kill off the other options; “cide” is Latin for kill as in homicide, suicide, pesticide etc. The problem with cutting off the other options is you don’t know what you don’t know! It is the 3rd certainty in life right after taxes and before death! If you knew everything you would already have what it is you are looking for to make you happy! You don’t even need to know everything to get that sorted.
Goal setting is a focusing tool and only a focusing tool at that. It is not the way to achieve lasting happiness in your life. The pursuit of goals can act like any other addiction. It can cover up and possibly mitigate the pain of not being happy, not being who you were really born to be. You might luck out and find your goal is completely aligned with who you are and what you are. If, however, like most of us, you cannot tell the future you might want to broaden the description of what you want out of life just to see what might show up. This avoids the cataclysmic outcome of Goal Addiction by splitting who we are from what we may achieve.
You Are Not Your Outcomes
You are not your outcomes! Whether you swim at the Olympic or not, win a medal or not no outcome will ever satisfactorily define who you are. The definition of who you are comes from your Purpose. Your purpose is the reason for all your life not just one phase of your life. Often Goal driven people lead lives that are completely out of balance and that imbalance can have huge unforeseen consequences. The elite rugby player who lives in retirement with permanent headaches, the business executive who is burned out at 50 and simply cannot bring themselves to get on another plane. They certainly set and achieved numerous goals but they never found that illusive contentment with life.
Consider this, if you already knew what will make you happy and fulfilled wouldn’t you be doing that now? Like all humans, you want to be happy and content with your lot in the world. Here is the news bulletin, You can achieve that by being that right now! Being contented is not a bad thing and it certainly doesn’t mean you must give up on achieving more, because to do so would cause discontent. What it does do is give you peace of mind and soul.
Greatest Good and Highest Joy
It is OK to have goals however do not allow those Goals to define who you are now or want out of life. Pick up the broad brush and forget the details that are goals. My wife Lucille lives her life looking for the Greatest Good and Highest Joy. She leaves the detail to the body that knows everything AKA. the Universe. She lives a life that is open to anything that will fulfill these two conditions. Lucille doesn’t prescriptively slave away to achieve happiness through achieving goals she thinks she might want.
She certainly has goals and plans but they are not who she is nor do they define her reason for being. She is who she is she is. Being who she wants to be. Right now, part of this is pursuing her current goals in life …and that can change… if the universe has something better in mind. Her happiness is not defined by an outcome for her; she, with her limited knowledge of all things, picked out of all the possibilities that exist as the sole way to happiness.
The odds get a whole lot better when you leave the field of possibilities in life open and don’t get attached to prescribed outcomes.