Goal-Setting Hack: Part 2
Part 2: The Why
Goals can blind us to experience, and with that, important feedback that will in fact inform the goal itself. We will forever be learning what our goals are – even as we pursue them. We will grow insight into methods, or be shown a totally different path that leads to an even better version of our goal. So it’s important to remain a participant in your life – and not just a miner shoveling toward the diamond.
I believe that life is at its foundation - a balancing act that is constantly renegotiated. It’s never “solved” – because it is fluid. Maybe a better metaphor is that life, at its best, a song: it needs breath and emotion and energy and a melody: and that is a good thing! Because to never change would be to never know the outside of the crib. It’s a path that is walked, not a static moment. It is by nature, growing and forever evolving. We are not statues - we are vines. What changes is what is great about life: it is constantly new and different and exciting and expanding. To control it or make it into one particular idea is not what will eventually make you the happiest or most fulfilled. It is the adding of layers that brings the riches – and just like as a kid you didn’t want to try the weird new food, as an adult you won’t want to try the new hard scary thing. And that’s because we mis-perceive it as a threat.
I believe the longest-lasting moments of happiness come from three places. When you are embarking on something new and exciting full of potential, or you’ve pushed yourself past a previous limit, or when you have given joy to another person. Reflect on that for a moment - in your life has this been true?
I invite you to reflect on the moments you've felt happiest in your life and quantify exactly what it was that made it so wonderful. Close your eyes now and think of a moment in your life that made you sooo happy. When you felt full of love. Where are you? Who are you with? Go through the elements of your surroundings. Imagine your body in this state.
Was that moment in your life, something fleeting or did it bring you lasting joy? And why did it resonate with you? Did it tap into a greater kind of depth – in your understanding of your life?
Think of another memory – when you have felt the most joy because of something you inspired in another person. Picture your surroundings, the sounds. Where are you. Picture the other person – their face. Imagine your face as they see you. What is the quality of this moment, for you? Really feel it in your body.
These are the moments that life is made of. These are the moments we cannot predict or bottle or manufacture. They are wonderful because they are bigger than our script. They are bigger than a single moment. They are created by the path – and all the moments before it.
If I were to think about my measure for happiness as a younger self, I would say that I was much more external. Like it all came down to proving I was good enough by the measures of others. And whether or not I was happy relied on the external measures. This is a very painful roller coaster style of happiness and it is not sustainable. I would reference the majority of celebrities or musicians who rise and fall with their external definitions of self. How dangerous and scary it is to lose something like status or beauty: this is where your currency exists, and this is how we lose all worth. It also negates the value of the soul, the individual, and the experience one has of their own life. It places the focus of value lopsidedly in the outer self: the accumulated badges. Now that I am wiser and happier on a day to day basis, I realize that it’s because I have a different measure for myself. It comes down to my approach to life.
If someone congratulates me for something I put nothing into, it means nothing. If I got last place in a sport I struggled to learn, I’d be happier than if I got first in one that was effortless. Instead of setting goals that inflict pain and judgment upon you from their outset, why not set goals for your approach to your life. For example, I want to work at my optimal level. I want to have a balanced life so I feel good and enjoy my day.
If you're looking for a new path to happiness, I believe setting these self-loving kinds of goals will give you much relief and a lot less suffering that is self-induced. At the very least take a grain of this salt and maybe aspire toward a more balanced approach to your measure of success. One that is not so heavily invested on the external and instead fosters self-forgiveness.
With that, let’s get to the tools! These are all goal-oriented tools more broadly.
Coming soon - part 3!