We’ve all been programmed to set goals for ourselves. Getting into the best college, getting a law degree, getting the next promotion, running a triathlon, or saving for a car or a house – we all know the value of having our eyes on the prize, of having something we are looking forward to achieving. The highest achievers in our society – professional athletes, presidents, famous musicians, corporate leaders – have been working toward a singular goal for their entire lives with the expectation that getting to that goal will be the ultimate experience. Why then are we so often disappointed when we reach our goal? Why do so many high achievers reach their goal only to suffer from depression and substance abuse?
As Marilyn Monroe once said, “Dreaming about being an actress is more exciting than being one.” The real benefit of having goals is to help organize and focus our energy. When there is a goal in sight, it narrows our choices about what to do, who to connect with, what to read, what to look at on the internet. Goals help us decide what we need to give up in order to strive toward our dreams. Without goals, our day-to-day actions have little meaning; with them, we have a purpose for getting up each day. In short, goals are the means, not the end. Their purpose is to help us enjoy the journey, to treasure the experience, to live in joy and satisfaction of the moment.
Have you ever been so focused on a goal that you forgot to enjoy the experience of getting there?