Goals: Whose Agenda Is This Anyway?

by Margaret Lukens, New Leaf + Company LLC

I’ll begin by assuming that your goals have all the essential ingredients that separate a goal from a wish, that is, they are specific, measurable, achievable, and time-limited. Before you adopt them, there’s another important test they need to pass.

Whatever goals you choose, make sure they really are your goals.

By all means set a goal to finish a half-completed degree, double your client base, buy a new Mercedes, or learn to fly a Cessna, provided it speaks to your passion and your purpose in some way.

No matter how irresistibly cool it would be to view the earth at 9,500 feet from inside the Cessna, if you don’t really like flying, it’s not the goal for you. Ask yourself, what about the image is irresistible? Perhaps it speaks to you of freedom, mastery, an elevated point of view, adventure, or another value. Shape that into a goal of your own by asking, how could I express more of that value in my life? Leave the pilot’s license to those who get a kick from manipulating machines, and find ways to make the freedom your own.

Achieving someone else’s goals requires an act of will. While willpower has its uses, it is essentially ego-driven and will never bring the kind of deep satisfaction that gives meaning to life. Your boss, your family, and your friends may praise certain achievements, but if those aren’t really your goals, they will never be energizing and satisfying for you.

Here are a couple of quick tests to indicate whose goal it is: ask yourself, If no one saw me or ever knew what I had done, would I still want to do it? If I knew I had only six months to live and could only do a few things, would I still want to do it?

How do you test your goals? Leave a comment here.

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