Goals can be powerful vehicles for us. They can make us feel alive as we work towards something. They give us meaning while we grow, learn, and become greater versions of ourselves. Goals are tremendous ways to make positive differences in our own lives, and the lives of others.
However, because we place so much value on goals, we can also feel guilty when we're not working towards anything. For some, it can seem like you're either on the goal train, or you're not. And when you're not, you feel your life is worthless. Sometimes you wonder what the point is.
There are plenty of other resources out there on how to set goals, how to measure your progress, and tactics on getting you to the finish line. I won't cover those here. To stay true to the core message of this blog, I'm not interested in the mechanics of goal-setting. I'm more interested in why you have the goal in the first place.
Why do we have goals?
On the surface, we have goals because we're looking to get something, go somewhere, or become someone in the future. We want to make a difference in our own lives, or the lives of others. As humans we crave meaning, and goals seem to give us just that.
The interesting part happens when we question what's behind our goals. Once you uncover that, things actually get pretty simple.
If you're struggling to figure out what goals you ought to strive for, perhaps this post could put an end to that struggle.
Behind every goal that you and I have is really just the same thing.
If we're honest with each other, life doesn't always seem so easy. In fact, most of the time it's a struggle. It can seem as if we're constantly fighting with reality in order to get what we want, and even then, we don't always get it. We feel stressed, depressed, devoid of meaning, without a purpose.
Goals give us a way out. They give us a means to an end, and that end is to have a pleasant experience of life. We might have different ideas of what that looks like on the outside; but within, we're all just searching for that same feeling of peace, joy, love, ecstasy. We want to feel fully alive.
For some it's cars, for others it's travel. For you it might be the perfect family, or winning the lottery so you never have to work a day in your life. Who knows, maybe you're the type who wants to conquer the world. For me, creating a lifestyle where I don't have to show up to an office everyday sounds rather appealing.
But behind all these goals that you and I have, let's remember what it is that we're really after. As we head into the new year with new goals let's remember what we really want.
But why, you ask?
Perhaps you'll realize you don't need that dream job, or that new house, or the picture-perfect family. Perhaps you'll realize that those things are beautiful in their own right, but they're only triggers to a feeling that you're already capable of feeling today, right here, right now.
Perhaps you'll wake up to this truth, and stop beating yourself up about not having things. Perhaps you'll struggle a little less. Perhaps you'll start to see life as something you can harmonize with rather than something to fight every step of the way.
Perhaps your goals of achievement and external pleasures will morph into a single goal, a single decision, a single commitment, which is to learn how to return to your true essence, where everything you ever wanted is always present, and can never truly be taken away.
I want you to get what you want. I want us all to get what we want. And I want us all to realize that everything we want is already within us, so there's no need to go anywhere or get anything.
Perhaps we could try this approach to setting goals next year?
Live with substance!