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 my tail off to be the best at as much as I could.
I got good grades, nearly straight A’s all the way through. 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 did all the “right” stuff. I met the goals set before me over and over again.
And you know what?
I felt completely 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 really do a whole lot with. I worked a series of jobs I hated. Occasionally I heard others say, “I LOVE my job!” but I 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 simply 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.
I don’t think that was it. After all, I spent 18 years working hard, not to just get by, but to beat the competition.
The definition of 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) and yet it seemed I had come up empty-handed (well, except for all the debt).
Fast forward to age 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 absolutely no idea I was interested in…and I got interested. I spent countless hours learning new things. I felt like I had come alive.
I also felt sad that I wasted so much of life pursuing what I thought would make me happy. After all, they told me it would.
Being “the best” doesn’t 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 that came from others impressed by my ability to look like I enjoyed it.
Because it was something that interested me and was completely in line with my wiring and temperament and personality and uniqueness and intellect and creativity.
Because it made my heart sing.
I’ve learned a lot over the years, about working online, about life. One of the main things I’ve learned is that you can’t rush it.
We’re always looking for the destination, aren’t we? The end result. The goal. The finish line.
I want my kids to be grown so I can breath a sigh of relief that they didn’t turn out too bad (or, if I’m honest, so I can be deemed 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 income.
I want to be more like this and less like that.
Sure, 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 wants you to reach for?
How can you do it differently?