Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Why Chasing Your Goals Will Only Frustrate You

DIETS, exercise programs, weight loss, smoking, drinking, bad sex, drugs, gambling, complaining, stuttering; all things we either want to stop or control.  Then there’s the things we want more of: spiritual growth, resilience, the ability to forgive, the capacity to save money, etc.  These are all noble things to aim for, but it seems to me that goal-setting and goal-achievement are entities that don’t necessarily get on.
So many goals that we set are never achieved; not even close.
But blessed is the one who doesn’t give up!
This is not a meaningless article.  My intent is not to discourage you from goal-setting.  My purpose is to open up the idea of the power of enjoying the process over the vision of the outcome that’s sought.  There’s a subtle shift required in our thinking.
We have to devote ourselves to a vision for the present that sustains us in the present.
If we’re sustained in the present, and we behave in a way consistent with our goal, we only have to string more successful present moments together.  Ultimately we’ll have reached our goal without even needing to think about it.  Of course, we’ll still obsess over our goal; it’s the way we’re wired.
But why do we miss out on the joy of the process; taking in the joy of the moments that take us in the direction of our goals.
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More About the Problem
Many of our goals are either unattainable — as our ability to shift attitudes and behaviours takes more time than that — or unfulfilling for the most part, because they’re often unsustainable — again, because our attitudes and behaviours haven’t made the sort of leap that sustained goal achievement requires.
At the root of our problems is the limitation of our capacity to change.  We can only change so much at a time.  That’s because we have only so much focus to deploy, and as focus wanes and we creep back into those old tired habits, we gradually fall back into the only way we’ve possibly ever known.
But a new way is possible.  A new way is the focus of process away.
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Concluding on the Solution
The way we prevent slippage on the road to enjoying successful goal achievement is to stop chasing the goal, and to start enjoying the moment.  But many of these moments will involve pain; of going without, of getting used to a new way of thinking and acting, and of enduring reminders of failure.  But a focus on the momentary process will sustain us in the moment.
Enjoy every mile on the road to your goal, then you’ll succeed at your goal.
More than that…
Enjoy every mile on the road to your goal, then you’ll not only succeed, you’ll be a success.
To do what is said above means we must enjoy the actual behaviours we need to engage in that will get us there.
When every painful step taken is enjoyed as its own victory, the goal is not only being achieved, it becomes irrelevant.  We have transcended the goal; this is the abundant life.

© 2016 Steve Wickham.

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