Recently, I came across an old list of goals of mine (the one I used before switching to my current system). I really liked, that I had achieved a lot from that list. But there were also a lot of goals on it, that didn’t made it into reality.
Now should I feel like a failure? Or should I put them on high importance again and push again to make them come true. Actually no! I really felt good about some of them not coming true. Because they don’t reflect any longer what I am about.
Who Is More Important Anyway – You or Your Goal
Let’s face it, it is not about the goal, it is always and only about you
I give you an example. Some years ago my primary goal was to study medicine. It was clearly the most important goal I had at that time. I applied for it, and even though I was a senior compared to most students (they were on average 19-21 while I was at that time already 39, so I could have been the father of them) I really got into it and had lots of friends there. But other than the young students I also had a business running. And though I was able to delegate a lot of work, I was still not able to put 100% of focus to it. So studying a major field like medicine, while running a successful IT-company is a major form of putting stress on you. But that didn’t stop me.
But then they changed the rules. I had a specific outcome in mind, why I wanted to study medicine. After 6 years, I wanted to use this certification to become a doctor of homeopathy. I was already a certified non-medical practitioner, but I wanted to take it up a notch. But 3 months after I started, they changed the rules, so that what I wanted to achieve was now not 6 but 11 years to go.
At that point, I had to re-evaluate my goal. Was it worth giving 11 years of my time (and I value my time really high), going through a lot of struggle and through administrative and work struggle, that I didn’t like? I’ve been a freelancer all of my life. And I had to give up a lot of that freedom for this goal. At that time, I made the decision, that I wasn’t willing to pay that price. And I made the decision to cut it. But I made the decision to cut it with a high-experience. So I finished and passed all tests and certificates within that 6 months (where the failure rate was something about 70-80%) and then I quit. The difference was, that me quitting was not about not being able to make it, but because I made the conscious decision that this was not my major goal anymore.
Now I could feel bad about me, being a quitter. But I made the realization, that it is not about the goal, it is about me. And that is what counts.
Honestly, how often have you’ve been pursuing a goal, just to find out that it didn’t made you happy. And how much struggle did you went through when at the end you realized it wasn’t worth that much hardship.
Does You Goal Fits You Any Longer
I’ve been really goal-oriented for quite a bit of my life, but in the last years I’ve found myself re-evaluating goals much quicker, and being able to drop them much easier without feeling guilty, if they don’t fit me anymore.
Because I know at the end, it won’t be about how many goals I’ve ticked of from a list. It is about what achieving those goals made me as a person.
So my guiding principle for goals now is, whether the WHY behind it is really appealing to me as a person any longer and whether it makes me happy. And not whether it is something I should do. There are a lot of people who tell me I should do a lot of things. And they speak with a loud voice. But there is only one tiny, little voice that is asking me, what I really want in my life. And that voice is the only voice that counts. And that voice is deep within me.
Re-Evaluate Your Goals
So I made it a priority to re-evaluate my goals on a regular schedule, asking me these important questions:
- Do I still want to achieve it?
- What benefits am I really getting from it?
- Does achieving it will make me really happy?
- Whom else can I help with it by achieving this goal?
- Do I enjoy the process of getting it?
- If I don’t enjoy the process, how can I make it more enjoyable?
- Is it still worth the price to pay?
When looking back (and you know hindsight is always 20/20) those goals I didn’t achieve were as important to my development as those I did achieve. And I am lucky today, that I missed or dropped a lot of goals. I would have been a totally different person had I achieved anything on my list.
Now one word of warning: I don’t want you to become a slacker or a drifter, having no goals at all in life or giving up everything with the first problem coming up. You need goals and you need persistence to grow your muscles (physical and psychological), but you should look ahead of your goals and take into consideration your broader development as a human person.
Goals are just guiding posts on your routes towards development as a human person. But sometimes you might choose other routes and so goals might change.
Don’t take them too seriously, they are just tools to help you move forward.