As a Life and Mind Coach, I often talk to people about the importance of setting goals in life.
Why? Because if your mind does not have a focus, you will find yourself in a constant state of worry and anxiety. Because the mind needs a home. It needs to focus on something that will give it meaning, safety and security. When we are working every day with a target in mind, we feel motivated and find it easier to make choices and decisions that will take us where we want to go. When you don’t, your mind will become anxious, worrying about what negative things the future will bring instead.
But you know what? I think having goals is more important than achieving them.
And this is why…
I was chatting with one of my best friends recently about this as in our own different ways, we are both already successful and have already achieved our goals in life.
My friend had a very successful online business which he sold about a year ago which has provided him with enough money to pretty much retire (well – for the foreseeable future anyway).
He is in his early 40’s, has a wife and two young children, lives in a nice condo in Penang, Malaysia and has enough money to live a very comfortable life.
Although I am not in the same financial position as my friends, I have pretty much achieved my goals in life too. I spend 11 months of the year living in some of the best 5-star hotels in the world whilst working about 3-4 hours a day doing a job that I absolutely love.
Although slightly different ambitions – one financial security and one achieving their dream job in life, both of us have noticed that there is still a part of us that needs constant work.
My friend was excited about selling his business because he had to put in many hours and a lot of hard work selling products that he wasn’t particularly passionate about. He was driven more by financial security which after 11 years of hard work, he achieved. Once he sold his business, there was a huge amount of relief and excitement that he no longer had to work.
However, after a few months, he began to feel frustrated. He had achieved his financial goals, but his mind then had no focus. His day was filled up with ferrying around his kids and when they were at school, sitting in coffee shops, walking around shopping malls and buying T-shirts on a daily basis that he would probably never wear. He actually found being semi-retired quite boring and discovered it actually brought about new stresses in his life that he hadn’t contemplated before. In fact, he even started writing a blog about it which I definitely recommend you take a read of lifehackerguy.com
In a similar way, despite living my dream life, there are areas that I still need to focus on, particularly finances and making my new corporate wellness business venture successful.
But sometimes, as my life is very easy, I get lazy and stop working on it. And when I do that, I notice bad habits returning.
This is why I think we need to be constantly looking at our lives no matter how successful we are and see which areas are changing and which parts need attention.
I always remember watching an act on Bruce Forsythe’s ‘Generation Game’ many years ago when a man was trying to spin as many plates on top of sticks as he could. He kept having to run from one stick to the other because if they stopped spinning, the plates would fall off and break. I couldn’t help thinking how true this is of life, you need to constantly check all the areas of your life and make sure they are running successfully. And if they are not, you have to pay them some attention, otherwise, they start to go wrong. Because everything is constantly changing and we need to change with it. You can never get to a place where everything is fine and remains that way.
My body is not as strong as it used to be, and some of the physical treatments I do are beginning to take a toll, so I need to put in some effort to make some adjustments to my career. In addition, if I don’t start saving more money towards my retirement, I could end up struggling later on in life.
Another negative aspect of having no goals is that our minds start to chase after temporary pleasures in life which we can often regret; coffee, chocolate, alcohol, drugs, sex, shopping, youtube videos, facebook, etc. The more we allow these short-term pleasures to distract us, the more difficult it is to feel motivated and we then feel frustrated that we are not getting anywhere.
As an expat living in Thailand for many years, I have come across many people who have retired and bought a nice house with a swimming pool believing, at last, they will be in paradise and be happy every day. But often this is not the case.
Many people become bored and frustrated at not being “of any use” and either start drinking their lives away, start up a charity or start a new business to keep themselves occupied.
I think the lesson I have learned from these chats with my friend is that no matter where we are in life, how successful we have become, we always need to have goals.
Not only that, but also understand that no matter what we achieve in our lives, the feeling of fulfilment can only ever be temporary. Therefore, the journey towards reaching our goals is in fact far more important than reaching them. It is this that we must focus on enjoying rather than believing we will reach a day when everything thereafter will be perfect bliss and happiness.