January is fast approaching [whether you agree with me or not]. With January comes goals. With goals come arbitrary destinations. With destinations....life becomes fucked up.
Whether we create our goals in January or at any other point in life, goals are one of the best and worst things we can ever do in our lives. Goals provide so much value, yes. They help create ambition, they help ignite and fuel our fire. They help us go places and do things. They help us to become more.
More often than not, goals come in the form of a destination. We consider them accomplished once we've gotten this, gone there, or done that. Like they are a checkbox: once we accomplish the goal, then we can check off the box. It's things such as:
Losing 10 pounds
Traveling to this place
Doing [______] at work
Making [ X ] more money
But it's not all sunshine and rainbows. A dark and scary shadow travels alongside a destination-oriented goal. Take these three bits of caution before you set your next goal.
1. Life Becomes Binary
When we set a destination-oriented goal, we create a very binary view of life. We create a world where we've either achieved our goal or we haven't. We're either on this side of the fence or we're on that side of the fence, and there is no middle ground.
When life is binary and the destination looms out ahead of us and we create a gap in our lives. Like we are here, the goal is there, and then there is this wide space separating us from the goal.
This space makes us feel like we're at a loss. We're missing something.
In this space, because we haven't achieved X, Y or Z, we haven't done what we intended to do, therefore we must continue to work. We must continue to work until we get to the proverbial "there". Only once we've completed our goal, are we allowed to rest. Only then are we allowed to be satisfied.
Destination-oriented goals cause us to create a gap between where we are and where we'd like to be. And for as long as that gap exists, there is something missing. We withhold our happiness. We cannot be fully satisfied.
2. A Quick Reprieve
Or how about this: we've set that goal, we've pushed past the space between here-there, and we've accomplished what we set out to do.
Boom!! Check off that box, you are a badass!! You're the dragon slayer!! Well done!!
Pat yourself on the back. Go celebrate. Go take a few days off to congratulate yourself, you earned it.
Take as long as you'd like to bask in the completion of the goal, sure! But then what? Where do you go from here? It's odd to think about, but the glow we experience after checking off the box is usually WAY more short-lived than the journey towards the goal. And it's WAY more short-lived than we thought it would be.
As soon as that glow is gone, we've all of a sudden got a hole in our lives. The carrot has been removed. There's no motivation. There's no mountain to climb....
....until you make a new goal....
And do you know what a new goal means? Another gap. Another mountain to climb. Another long process to get there. Another short-lived amount of satisfaction when you've arrived.
On and on the cycle continues. What we work for never produces the happiness we expect. Nor does it produce a level of satisfaction equal to the amount of work we put in.
Working towards a goal is like riding a shitty rollercoaster. There are ups and downs, and when you've finished your ride, you're disappointed because it wasn't nearly as good as you thought it would be.
3. We Forget About the Journey
In all of this, we forget the journey we're on. Destination-oriented goals leave us in one of two places. We are either at Point A, which is not at the goal. Therefore, we're withholding our happiness and satisfaction. Or we're at Point B, where we've arrived at our goal. And we discover the satisfaction is way more short-lived than we expected, so we have to make a new goal.
But between Point A and Point B, there is a massive amount of effort and time invested. The vast majority of our goal's pursuit is lived between these two points.
For as long as we focus only on Point A or Point B, we squander every bit of time, energy, emotion, learning, and experience that exists between the two points.
We piss away the majority of our life all because we are so focused on the starting point or the end point. We forget that life is the journey.
Forgetting the Goal, Loving the Journey
Here is my sage advice. Don't make destination-oriented goals. Or if you do, use extreme caution.
Instead, learn to love the process. Learn to love the journey.
Remember that life is the journey. A goal is just a self-imposed layer we place on life.
Before you ever choose a goal, choose to live life. Choose to love life. Life is found in every single moment of our existence. You don't have to be anything or do anything to love your life.
If your self imposed ideals get in the way of truly living life, don't throw away your life, throw away the goals.
You can choose to get rid of goals whenever you'd like. Or better yet, you can choose not to have them in the first place. If the rollercoaster is about to be shitty, don't go for a ride.