Have you ever tried to lose weight, stop smoking or stop eating junk food …. and failed? We tend to make these goals and then expect our discipline and willpower to take care of it.
What we don’t consider is this: Why do we really want to reach that goal and what do we need it for? If you just want to be skinny, it won’t necessarily motivate you.
Here’s a different approach. Ask yourself: Why do you need to reach your goal? You need to create a vision of the person you want to become. This ideal person can do and have what you presently can’t.
The goal you want to achieve is a tool in fulfilling your life’s purpose, it has no importance by itself. Your life’s purpose will implement goals by necessity and not as a fun side-project.
Here’s a quote by Nelson Mandela after he got out of prison, talking about exactly this point:
If you spend twenty-seven years in [jail] where you waste your life, the flower of your life, you have no time to be negative, to be pessimistic. You select a target which you feel will enrich you if you strive to attain that target. If you are going to do that, there is no time for bitterness. You must mobilise everybody who has the skill, the talent, to enable you to reach your target. And therefore you have to treat every human being as one with impeccable integrity and honesty. Because if you do so, that is how people are going to relate to you and will support you in all your endeavours.
– Nelson Mandela, interviewed by Neil Mitchell
The point is this: Do not make small or big goals without considering your overall purpose or you will fail. What will you do once you have achieved that goal? If you can’t answer that question, you will never reach it.
You need a goal that motivates you right now! If you feel discouraged whenever you think about it, it’s the wrong goal.
Your life’s purpose can be abstract or specific, it doesn’t matter.
For me, I’ve always had this vision of the ideal person I could become. In the beginning, it was just fantasy and entirely unreachable. Now I feel that it is possible. What I strive for is being always balanced in my emotions and having deep self-knowledge. A person that can do anything and is absolutely free. The picture I have in my mind is clear.
No illusions, no immaturity, and no character flaws. In order to get there, I have to make small and big goals along the way. They are not necessarily desirable all by themselves, but they will bring me closer to my purpose.
Create a vision for yourself. That is your life’s purpose. Design your goals to get there faster. Goals facilitate your process, your purpose motivates you.
Don’t worry if your vision is fuzzy, that’s how it’s meant to be. If you could comprehend as a child what you will become in the future, it wouldn’t be worth striving for.
When I was a child, my speech, feelings, and thinking were all those of a child. Now that I am a man, I have no more use for childish ways.
Ghost In The Shell (1995)