You’ve worked hard for a long time towards your goals; you’ve made a lot of sacrifices along the way to get to where you are. But somehow, now that you’ve reached your goal, you’re questioning if you really want it any more... You have some nagging doubts about what you might have missed out on along the way.
So how do we allow ourselves to enjoy the success of both the journey and the end goal?
Often if we become too focused on the end goal, it comes at the sacrifice of enjoying the journey and celebrating the smaller successes along the way. Having goals is fine, but not if they are pursued so single-mindedly that you miss other opportunities which might have provided a different route to success which may have been more enjoyable.
Goals are just a motivation tool, we need to remember that the path to achieving our goals is a journey and life is what happens along the way. Having a goal that is less specific allows more flexibility in how we might get there. Taking this attitude also creates space and allows other opportunities to present themselves.
For example, consider these two goals:
We will increase our sales by 10% year on year.
I want to be a millionaire by the time I am 50.
The first goal has a pretty major potential unintended consequences; there is a possibility that your products or services are discounted so much, in the quest to land the sale, that the price is now below break-even. The result being the more you sell, the more you lose. There could also be compromises to quality in the quest to sell more. Perhaps a better goal might be: We will sustainably increase our profitability year on year.
The new goal implies that there is a full understanding of what the internal costing structure is within the business, so the benchmark profit results can be exceeded without any detriment to the long term profitability of the business. It might be that sales actually initially decrease, but profits increase as more information becomes available about the actual real cost of the product or service. Some products or services may be deleted or changed to increase profitability, and new ones may be developed.
The second goal is all about financial success, no mention of spiritual, physical or emotional success. It implies that money is king and will be the only driver for all that you do. Where is the space for loving compassion, for helping the less fortunate, for enjoying family, friends and nature, or for living a life that is not just about the mighty dollar? While you might be successful in becoming a millionaire - at what cost to the other aspects of your life? Perhaps a better goal might be to: I want to have the freedom to choose what I do with my time.
This new goal implies there is a level of financial success which allows us to choose leisure activities or not, paid activities or not, or almost anything, or not. There is also an implied strength in being able to choose and say yes to what you want to do, and no to what you don’t want to do. The word freedom is very powerful and can mean a lot of things to different people. This goal is empowering and flexible as it doesn’t have a specific route that has to be taken. But when used as a motivation tool, when we ask: “Is this activity or project going to get me closer to my goal or take me further away?” Then we have the power to choose if we pursue it or not. This goal also allows new opportunities to present themselves, which could take us in a direction we wouldn’t have even thought about, but which might give us the freedom we desire.
Which is why you might be feeling flat about that goal you have fought so hard to achieve. Is it really meeting your innermost needs, and what have you lost by getting there? Maybe your priorities changed along the way, but you didn’t update your goal. It’s not too late to change tack. We all have the power to toss out or abandon goals which no longer serve us, and in their place we can create new goals which do nurture and empower us to achieve greater things.
If you want to know your past life, look into your present condition.
If you want to know your future life, look at your present actions.
Padmasambhava (Circa 8th Century), first Buddhist missionary to Tibet