Why bother with a big goal?
That’s an interesting question, actually, because focusing on your life or career goals can be a bit of work. It’s much easier to just exist, to go with the flow, to enjoy things as they come to you – or complain when things don’t work out. This seems to have become the norm in our culture.
But there’s a wonderful paradox which comes from putting your energy into a big goal: It gives you great freedom. Most important, it gives you an easy way to say yes or no to requests, to decide where to put your attention and focus.
Many of us struggle with having too much to do. Information is a never-ending flood washing in from every angle, and requests for our time come in from everyone in our lives. Everything seems to tell us we should be doing more, more, more, with our precious 24 hours of the day.
When you’re lacking a goal, it’s hard to decide which of these deserve your attention. Focus on the most urgent? The most fun? Getting rewarded by your boss? You end up thrashing around, minute by minute, never quite knowing how to decide or whether you’re making progress.
Focusing on a goal makes this much easier: How much will a particular request help me meet my goal? Or goals – I doubt anybody can boil their entire life down to just one objective.
Here are some examples which might help make this clearer.
Let’s say that I have a goal to start my own company by 2015. There’s lots of activities which will help me meet that goal: Learning how to run a company; Defining what I would want the company to be; Saving up some seed capital; Developing key relationships which can help me bring resources to my venture. Likewise, other things might be distractions: Non-essential relationships; Learning in other areas; Spending my money on an expensive vacation.
Or I might have a goal around my family, to be a great father to my children and a supportive and nurturing husband. This changes the conversations I have with them, how I spend my time, and how we function together as a unit.
I might hold these two goals simultaneously, because I don’t really want to focus exclusively on just one. Occasionally there might be conflicts between the two (should I travel this weekend to develop a key relationship, or stay at home with my family?) but that’s relatively manageable. Over time, I’ll find ways that these two goals can work together, or at least not cause me deep problems.
The key is to have the courage to pick your goals, and then use them to change your decisions. In return, your life becomes clearer and there’s a good chance you’ll actually ACHIEVE those goals.
by Carl Dierschow