Goals, goals, goals, that’s what everyone seems to be talking about, and they talk about it everywhere. Here, there, Instagram, LinkedIn, life coaches talk about it, television hosts talk about it, marketing and businesspeople all talk about it and it sounds something like this; make goals, break goals, set goals, refine goals, write goals, smash goals, crush goals, change goals, you need to have goals, goals too small, goals too big, multi-step goals…I could keep going.
Unfortunately, the term goal is now a buzzword that people like to hang in front of you, at times to truly motivate you, at times to sell shit to you, and at times to show off and compare straws. The truth, depth and importance of goals and achieving them has been diluted from its current overuse.
So, all that said, what does it mean to set goals and then to set out to accomplish them? What does it mean to accomplish things without succumbing to all the bullshit and hype out there? All the while keeping your sanity and peace. First, we need to understand the anatomy of a goal, and what goes on in our heads when we set them.
Goal setting is a powerful tool that can help you grow as a human and achieve more fulfillment from life. Goals keep us structured and on track while giving us a sense of meaning, something to strive for and look forward too which is very important for mental health. But with goal setting, there are hidden pitfalls that not too many people touch on.
When you create a goal, what you are really doing is creating a space in your life. You are essentially telling your subconscious “I am currently here, and over there is where I want to be”. Then for most people, they try to reprogram themselves to get to that goal as quickly as possible.And then tie all sorts of negative emotions to not getting there. And this is where things tend to get sticky.
This is the mindset and attitude that pulls you out of the moment and places you in a position of unhealthy desire. You want to change so bad, and so rapidly, feeling you may be entitled to it, or that it should come sooner.
You become so focused on getting to the goal that your whole sense of self gets tied to it. Then every day you don’t reach it, you get more and more frustrated and down on yourself for not getting there. Meanwhile, all these internet personalities are posting pictures of smiles and successes that make you feel even worse. And you think “Well it looks like everyone else is doing great, why can’t I get it together, what’s wrong with me? This guy became a millionaire in 90 days, why can’t I?” Sound familiar?
It's funny, with most humans (especially humans from America)we want things yesterday, our goals included. Fast is not quick enough anymore and we want more in a shorter amount of time. You can thank the advancement of technology and our increasing, unnatural comfort levels for that (more on this later).
“The Price of anything is the amount of life we exchange for it.”
– Henry David Thoreau
Even though we have been bullshitted into believing that we can (and should) receive things at lightning speed, In reality, this is not how it works. More importantly, there is a deep lesson to be learned in the goal process that is tied to the essence of life.
Everything in nature takes time to grow, this is largely in part so that it will last. For example, a bamboo tree grows for YEARS underground. You do not see any progress above soil level until about 2-3 years after the seed has been planted. At which point the bamboo tree which has developed strong roots and foundations shoots up from the ground. From there, it continues to make massive spurts of growth daily.
There are two things to be taken away from the bamboo story.The first is that much of our growth happens when and where nobody sees. The second is due to this natural growth, creating strong foundations, principals, and processes, this is what allows great change and growth to take place.
You can look at your goals in a similar manner, you plug away and build bit by bit, but over time you don’t see any substantial progress.This is the most painful part of the process, and this is where most people stop, whether it be going to the gym or starting anything new. We see no visible progress, so we believe nothing is happening.
Though sometimes it seems like nothing is happening, and you are not receiving anything, you are extending downward, building your foundation that acts as the baseline for growth. This is a fundamental part of the process where you will create the foundations necessary for the growth needed.And along with this will come the process of change, which is tied right into growth.
The size of your goal will likely require a similar sized effort and amount of time to achieve it. For example: if you goal is to grow your business to (pick a big number) per year, and you are at your current position.Things are going to have to change. You will have to become a different person;The person who has the mentality, skillset, processes, and connections to create all of that income. And then hopefully hold onto it.
It seems simple but many people don’t understand this concept. There are millions of people who want and think they deserve to reach goals simply because they wrote them down. Or they’ve read The Secret too many times and think if they sit around and ONLY think about what they want it will appear at their doorstep. Sorry, that’s pure bullshit. Holding goals in your mind helps, but it’s your steps forward that are going to bring the goal closer. And each step forward will require more adaptation, and more change.You will eventually need to let some things go
I still struggle with this from time to time in my creative work. I just want to push through and get to the end. I want to get paid (Yes,I enjoy money too) and I want to finish the project and move on. But what happens then? There is another project, and dollar to chase, another project to “just get through”, another day to conquer. This is the flaw in most people’s attitude (including my own). It’s this idea that you are never where you need to be. And it sneaks through in various ways.
It is very easy to get caught up in that trap, and most of it comes from not being in the moment and enjoying the process. You compare with other people and look to the day you can compare straws with everyone else.Doing so, you lose yourself and your grace in the process. Your goals become anxiety shackles rather than a positive pursuit, and it builds every day you don’t“get there.”
Nobody talks about it but the biggest part of the goal is the actual fucking path to get there. That is most of it. Reaching and achieving goals happens in split seconds, it’s the path that all the rewarding work is done. Again, we can learn from nature, and planting one foot in front of the other.
When you go hiking, you have the destination in mind, the peak, the mileage, the destination, the goal. Then you start out on your journey. Along the hike, you don’t beat yourself up while your hiking, you enjoy the scenery, you enjoy the nature, you enjoy the process of getting to the destination, you are fully there, involved in the work and the steps, literally.
You are more present and, in the moment, knowing that as long as you keep one foot in front of the other, you will get where you want togo. The walk is in itself the larger reward. How we work towards our goals should be the same way: set them and enjoy the process along the way.
Whatever you want to do in your life, whether its personal or in the professional space, your goals are your goals. This means that you should be doing them for you, regardless of what anyone else says or thinks. If you set goals looking for other people to cheer you on and throw flowers from the sidelines, you’ll lose twice. Once because of the impurity of your achievement, you will still feel a sense of emptiness, and second, because nobody will be there.
This is not to sound pessimistic, but it’s the truth. Most people are wrapped up in their own lives and shit to care what you are doing. Everyone has their own dreams and pursuits that are important to them, and if you’re looking for someone to care about, or validate your goals over theirs, good luck. Again, not that it doesn’t feel good to have support or people looking out for you, but if you are doing things more for recognition as opposed to the purity of your craft, getting to your goals will only be met with bitterness when you don’t hear any applause.
“It is better to follow your own path, however imperfectly, than to follow some else’s perfectly.”
– Bhagavad Gita
This may also sound selfish, but setting goals in this manner has the opposite effect. When you set goals that are true to you, ones that make your soul sing, the sense of fulfillment gained from pursing and reaching those goals is what allows you to be more genuine, and more giving in return. You will be working from your genuine self as opposed to trying to please people or pony off their validation. This will allow you to be freer and expressive in yourself, allowing the best you to shine through. Not trying to pretend to be someone or something else, living and being the genuine you.
Now that I’ve filled your head with a bunch of stuff, sit with it for a minute and let everything digest. I don’t nor never will knock goals. I encourage everyone to make them, pursue them, and achieve them. With that, make goals that are personal and give power to you, not anyone else. Allow and adapt to the changes that will be required of you. Finally, don’t forget to enjoy the process and the hike along the way, stop and smell the roses, and keep moving step by step.