You keep flying against the pane, smacking your head into the glass simply trying to get out, break free, get unstuck?
One of the most frustrating and stressful things we can experience is our inability to achieve our goal. Yet often, we often set up ourselves up for failure by picking the wrong goal to begin with.
We get wound up in expectations of others and do what we ought to, instead of what we want to. You might go into the family business instead of pursuing art school. Perhaps you shrug off your business aspirations to be a parent full-time, because it’s what your mother did.
Other times we are wooed by the desires of ego and focus on external outcomes like money and titles and degrees instead of our intrinsic need to have meaning and purpose in life.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this ego-versus-meaning thing quite a bit lately, with the publication of my first book. Of course I want it to be a success; I want people to like it. But, my primary goal was to write a book that would inspire others to live better lives, it wasn’t to land it on the bestseller list.
I think I’ve written a good book. I think too, that it’s a helpful and fun read and so I’ve accomplished my primary goal. All that I’ve learned during the process of researching and writing this book made the process rewarding, insightful and meaningful in its own right. Now, of course I want it to land on the New York Times Bestseller List – and I’ll do what I can to make that happen. But, if it doesn’t, I won’t feel as though I’ve failed. Whatever happens next won’t negate the value of the experience I’ve already had – because I picked the right goal to begin with.
[[SHAMELESS PROMOTION AHEAD: Speaking of the book: Imperfect Spirituality is now available for pre-order – go buy it! I love it. My mom loves it. She says it "feels good," and my mom is never wrong, ne-ver. So, if you want a good-feeling book, click on the book icon and order your copy now.]]
Shape your goal to meet basic needs
Shaping your goal in a way that meets your intrinsic and personal needs and values is a way to insure that you experience the same kind of satisfaction and success.
The most satisfying goals are those that we can actually make progress toward, says motivation and success bigwig Heidi Grant Halvorson. They are loaded with a sense of purpose. And they satisfy some basic human needs – which I’ll tell you more about Wednesday.
For today, though start thinking about the goals you’re pursuing. Are you making progress? Does the process still feel inspiring and satisfying – or at least meaningful? Is the goal still something you want? Does it look like what you expected? If you answered “No” to any of these questions it might be time to let go and redirect your efforts toward some new dreams. We’ll talk about how to do that on Wednesday.