When you set a goal you envisage an ideal of what you want and you start to orientate your life around it. This can be life enhancing in many ways because decision making is easier and it’s clear to see the progress you are making way before you are even close to the prize of the goal itself.
This sounds great for anyone and it is great. The reason it touched a nerve is that if you are very determined you may be in danger of adapting and problem solving too far.
You start filling in gaps, creating workarounds and taking difficult, unsuitable routes to get where you need to go. Temporary hardships can become the norm as a means to an end. You start putting things off until you’ve met your goal or are ‘closer’ to it. You isolate yourself to ‘focus’ and use words like ‘soon’. It’s you and the goal and everything else can wait. But can it? Will it?
The power of the goal can overpower everything else.
Sometimes we want something and as we get closer it changes or we have changed or it simply isn’t what we thought it was.
For example, I really wanted my apartment to be pretty; that was my goal. I have this lovely blanket and I kept it on a chair in the living room. No-one sat in that chair. Guests don’t want to mess up a pretty display. Eventually I moved the blanket.
It’s simplistic I know and yet even for the matter of one blanket it took me a while to work out that it wasn’t working. The blanket looked good. I was disappointed, I didn’t want to get rid of it and I didn’t know where else to put it. If that blanket was still on the chair just because it’s pretty, I would basically have one less chair. It shouldn’t be hard to get someone to sit in a chair! The blanket made it hard. The blanket made the chair literally useless.
That’s just a blanket. Can you imagine if it’s a business or a marriage or buying a house that isn’t working – horror! Disaster! Pain and tears for you and those around you! And yet, just because it’s your goal and maybe it’s always been your goal, that in itself is not a good enough reason to meet it. Many things look one way from a distance and are quite different close up.
There are so many books and movies about these kind of obstructing-blanket-on-a-chair realizations. Your life is not a movie! A realization and solution probably won’t be handed to you by a powerful external event and neatly resolved after 90 minutes. It took me longer than that to decide where to move the blanket to! But don’t let that deter you; your life is more important than a chair and a blanket and any specific aims set at a certain time and in a certain place. Your original goal may no longer be relevant. When you get closer perhaps it isn’t for you after all. And that’s ok. You can change it.
So that’s my message as an echo of Jonathan Fields’: keep reassessing what’s really important and useful for you and act on it.
How do you feel about what you are trying to achieve, does it still excite you?
Does the investment seem worthwhile?
Are you enjoying the journey?
How would you feel if you met that goal?
If you are meeting a worthy goal hopefully it is coming to meet you too. Is it coming for you? How does that make you feel?
Co-founder, The Clean Sheet