We all believe it is important to set Goals. Research confirms that those who set goals do better than those who do not, especially if it is self-generated and vivid and regularly monitored. What you may find surprising is that revealing your goals widely (as commonly advised) may actually boomerang in your motivation to meet the goals.
In this article, I explore goals more fully….
When we truly tap that energy within a goal, then only can we and empower oneself. Alive within a goal is a deep purpose that needs to be understood. A desire to see a force of potential. It is only this that inspires and lifts. Ideally, a goal should be replaced by VISION – it is broader! A vision is a direction, like a sketch. When it becomes a clearly defined map, it is disabling. It is like a globe, where Greenland appears larger than Australia, but one must know that it is an illusion (Australia land mass is 3 times that of Greenland). Knowing that goals are itself a perspective, it allows one to traverse the path, with one’s own experiences.Goals that give meaning to our lives is a prayer, else it is an albatross!
Research says that once you fix a goal you limit yourself. Take the case of Roger Bannister breaking the one mile run under four minutes. If you know it is under 4 minutes that sets the record in the mind and for years it will act as a constraint. Take the bumble bee. It is not aware of the laws of thermodynamic. Yet it does not know this and it flies!
Goals are Games we Play
Goals are like a ‘Finance Plan’ – it is a general direction. It is an assumption. It is a plan, it is a commitment to deliver. It is a path forward. it is indicative of progress. It is a journey with stretch. At all times it must be remembered that this ‘goal’ was based on a foundation of – beliefs, assumptions, values, knowledge and desire to succeed. As such, rigidity to one’s goal becomes a burden.
Goals are like pieces on the chessboard. To many there are powerful like queens and knights. Yet, they are all wooden pieces and lie inert in the box when the game is over. All equal. All inert. All lifeless. All meaningless. Only in the game does the player give it life. This is important to remember, that the chess pieces are portent or otherwise, only as per ‘rules defined and agreed’ and by the players, not by itself.
At its best, a goal lifts us up, at its worst it imprisons us to a self-slavery, or worse mortgaged to others. This must be understood. If it becomes a ‘duty’ or a compulsion, then we no longer enjoy it – we do it mindlessly, as if it is the only thing we have to do. I hear many people say, “What to do? This is my duty so I do it”. I disagree – one should do it only if one enjoys it, not otherwise. when one is aware of what one is doing, fully aware and enjoying what one is doing – then there is a goal.
What is an alternate to sharp Goals?
Rather than goals focus on system instead. If you are a Sports Coach, your Goal is to win the tournament, your System is what your team does at practice each day. If you are a Writer, your Goal is to write a Book, your system is a writing schedule each day. If you are a runner, your goal is to run the marathon, your system is your training schedule each day.If you are an entrepreneur, your goal is to build a Million Dollar Business, your System is Sales and Marketing.
We are all motivated by ‘wins’ and get depressed by ‘losses’. Have milestones along the way, so that you feel you are moving towards something each day. Keep the milestone related to each day and celebrate the small wins. Alcoholic Anonymous focus on staying ‘Alcohol Free’ each day! That’s measurable each day and wins or losses are easily measurable. The trick is not ‘avoidance’ ( like stop smoking), instead it is about, ‘smoke free today’.
Timothy Gallwey, in his book, ‘The inner Game of Tennis’ shares that we have two selves – Self 1 and Self 2. Self 1 is egoistic and tends to worry, while Self 2 is intuitive. He argues that one should allow for Self 2, and let the game be played by intuition and by the subconscious rather than with an outcome focus. And finally to discover the Self 3, a better human being.
Can we manage without Goals?
It is seductive to hang onto goals. It’s a game we humans play.
Tsu Lao, would have commented, there is no need to journey across to the shore. The shore opposite is here. The beginning exists with the end: the alpha with the omega. When one has a sense of one’s full journey, through a vision of his own purpose, there is an inner light that drives him forward. he moves on his own violation – ‘phototropicity’, I think scientist call it. Then there is no need to travel: one moves only in the RIGHT path. One moves intuitively only in the correct ways.
Let me simplify: if one is a great batsman, he needs no targets! he just enjoys batting and is aware each moment. He plays to each ball, he is alive to each moment. Then he knows what to do when a ball comes through: he knows what to do with a full length, good length or short pitch – he acts without targets. He acts only with a vision and purpose and values. He steps forward or back, or sideways. He moves all at once. He is ‘here and now’ – fully aware. The spectators do not see a bowler or a batsman: they see a display of genius. Martina Navratilova, a tennis player when questioned about her age replied that ‘the tennis ball does not know that’.
For when one is in flow, the actor, and the scene disappears – just the act remains, the dancers give way to the dance. Then there is only the dance, no dancers at all. The musician and the flute disappear – just the music remains. Goals, when embraced , without pressure, lift pleasure; when taken on as ‘desires’ or obligations de-energise. You can life an alternate without goals: attach oneself to an inner purpose. Abandon measures and milestones. They do limit.
Goals belong there – not here! Goals lies in the future: an expectation. A phantasy. Drop Goals: here is. It is here already. It has always been here. No need for a search – that is a desire. Drop the desire, drop the source of the desire, drop goals. This world here is real, with the other: an unreal, never to be realized.
When there is no goal, one relaxes: with nothing to do, the ego disappears. The ‘I’ disappears. Then acceptance, grace begins…..the Bhagwan within unfolds….Drop all goals! Stay aware!
May I request you to not simply like and move on. Do join me in this conversation. What do you think about Goals?