Updated December 28, 2015
Goals are great, except when they’re not.
My bad goals
I went to school. I did pretty well. I worked hard to be the best at things, as much as I could.
I got good grades. I played piano and the flute, was in band and orchestra, landed the lead role in drama and played several sports. I was voted MVP of stuff and even set a few (insignificant) records.
I graduated near the top of my class (there were only 19 of us so, you know, the chances were pretty good). Like all “good” students, I went to college and got a degree.
I met the goals set before me over and over again.
And you know what? I was lost. Because they weren’t really my goals, they were someone else’s.
When I finished college, I had no idea what I wanted to do. My degree was one I couldn’t do a lot with without more education. I worked a series of jobs I hated.
Occasionally I heard others say, “I LOVE my job!” but could never fathom saying it myself. (For real? You genuinely can’t wait to get up to go to work in the morning?)
When it came to my career, I was miserable. I was waiting for the day I got married and could rely on my husband to support us. Of course I didn’t really know what I would do after that either.
I wondered if I was just lazy. A wimp. Scared. Ungrateful. But I don’t think that was it. After all, I spent 18 years working hard.
I was disillusioned
Oxford says disillusionment is “a feeling of disappointment resulting from the discovery that something is not as good as one believed it to be.”
My feeling exactly.
I had done everything I was “supposed” to do (get good grades, go to college, get a degree). I didn’t have a lot to show for it. Well, except for all the debt.
The unexpected turn of events
Fast forward to 2003. I was 28 when I discovered the internet and found vast amounts of information on just about any subject I could imagine. It changed my life.
I stumbled on topics I had no idea I was interested in…and I got interested. Really interested. I spent countless hours learning new things. I felt like I had come alive.
I also felt sad I wasted so much of my life pursuing what I thought would make me happy. They told me it would. It didn’t. Doing what you’re supposed to do or being the best doesn’t necessarily bring you happiness or success.
Almost 30 years of my life passed before I really learned something, not because I had a test next Tuesday but because I couldn’t help myself from learning it. Because I actually enjoyed it. Because I enjoyed it, and not the accolades from others impressed by my ability to look like I enjoyed it.
It interested me and was completely in line with my wiring and temperament and personality and uniqueness and intellect and creativity.
It made my heart sing.
I’ve learned a lot over the years, about working online, about life. This is true: you can’t rush it.
We’re always anxious for the destination, aren’t we? The end result. The goal. The finish line.
I want my kids to be grown so I can breathe a sigh of relief they didn’t turn out too bad (or to prove I’m really a good parent). I want my marriage to look like this or that or so-and-so’s marriage. I want to have X number of subscribers, X number of pageviews or make X amount of money.
I want to be more like this and less like that.
The bottom line about goals
There’s nothing wrong with having goals, but whose are they?
Also, this is a journey. I think the process is most of the destination. And the process is a lot more enjoyable if your heart is singing along the way.
I’ve asked myself so I’ll ask you: What are the great things you are reaching over now in order to get something you think will be great later? And is it what you want to reach for, or what someone else says you should reach for?
How can you do it differently?