Written by: Beau DeCourcy
What is a goal? It seems like an obvious question at first, but the word goal, from my experience, can take on several meanings. Goals certainly can act as a way to achieve happiness and success, yet they can also be methods to distract, mislead and imprison those who set them for the wrong reasons. And while accomplishing a goal can be a great achievement, I sometimes question why we set so many and often choose so horribly of them.
We should question the deeper meaning of what our goals represent and the functions they perform in our lives. Our goals can reflect our fears, weaknesses and insecurities. If we do not feel adequate in comparison to a societal maxim, we may use them to help us “fit in.” In the past, I have done just that: I have unintentionally used goals as both distractions and to escape feelings of failure. They gave me a reason to busy my mind and distract me from addressing the numbness of living a compromising existence.
Adding ten pounds of muscle and one hundred pounds to a squat means a lot of time in the gym, buying supplements and reading articles. But for what? When the muscle and strength came, what happened? Nothing. I was a little heavier, a bit stronger and still unhappy.
Always ask yourself: are my goals truly my own, and when I achieve my goals, then what? Most often, you may answer yourself with what may seem like the only answer: more goals.
Lately, I have reassessed what a “goal” means to me. I now align my goals, more importantly, my intentions, based on increasing freedom in my life. This is important, because people will often enslave themselves with their goals and expectations rather than free themselves. They may fear, what invariably is a self-constructed failure, act tirelessly in the attempt to achieve a cultural and societal trophy that has little to do with who they are.
What is the benefit of being rich if you spend all your time earning money you have little time left to spend? What is the point of a muscular, sexually attractive body, if the vanity and ego you nurtured to reach it makes you undesirable to beautiful people?
If you continue to use goals as a temporary means to mask a life you do not enjoy, you may find yourself lost (a conundrum, I know), and without a deeper meaning to your existence. You may actually change your values, morals, and expectations of yourself, to perpetuate an identity that has almost no connection to who you really are. If you continue on this path, eventually, and tragically, you will become locked in a prison of expectations, surrounded by a desert of meaning.
Self-improvement is an important part of living a skillful and meaningful existence, and goals will likely be a necessary part of that self-improvement. It is you alone that determines the best paths you may embark on, so think deeply and choose wisely of the goals you set. They should foster your freedom of thought. Finally, recognize mainstream notions of success, and your goals to reach them may not only keep you from the happiness you desire, but also from the freedom you deserve.