Is setting goals worth it?
When we were doing the podcast for this week Ed asked me what my goal was. My response was that to arrive at the end of my life with a smile on my face would be a good goal. I reckon to be smiling at the end would suggest that the journey had been pretty good, and that is the point. Goals are all ok but if we only focus on the end point we miss the journey.
A goal is, by definition, the end of a journey. It could be that from this ending there will come other beginnings. But, any goal that we are aiming is an end point, a conclusion. And yet the goal itself may represent only the smallest part of the journey. It is the journey that is the bulk of the experience that is what really counts.
So, why have a goal at all?
For me a goal gives purpose to my experience of being alive. So I will have a goal for the day. It may that my goal is to do nothing, but then to actively do nothing is actually doing something (if you see what I mean). Goal setting does not mean that we have to engage in endless activity. It may be that we are aiming at doing less, chilling out more and learning to relax.
Often I will see my day as this blank cheque of time, 1440 minutes in the next 24 hours all to be spent however I wish – wonderful. I split my day into segments there is the small pre breakfast segment that is a good time to go running, do yoga or meditate. The morning segment takes me through to lunch time, the afternoon segment through to tea time, the evening segment and then the night at bed time. I often set myself mini goals to achieve in the different segments of the day.
Goals can be bigger events. I have week goals, month goals, year goals and so on. These are not things written in stone, they are things I would like to achieve or get done. If I miss the deadlines or decide to dump or change a goal that is fine.
Often a goal, once set, happens in a time line. The time line defines the process and the sequence of achievements that lead to the ultimate goal. If you think of a goal as a chain that is spread from the present moment to where you wish to get to, then the chain is composed of links. Each link is a step in the journey to the goal. If the goal is the top of the mountain then the journey is the chain. Each step that we take is a link in the chain. If we achieve all the links then we have completed the chain.
Why set goals?
Human beings are energised and motivated by having something to achieve. There is enough evidence in medicine and neuropsychology to confirm that those of us that carryon learning throughout life, however old we get, stay younger and fitter for longer. Those that do not have goals and become static go into decline and they get older quicker. Goals create purpose direction and meaning in life, without goals life can become meaningless.
Be happy, set goals. Remember that New Year will soon be here. Now, there’s a good time to set some new goals.