— James Allen (1864-1912)
This paradigm shift in time management has led me to the understanding that goals by themselves are simply no good. If you ask me, they’re all a bunch of caca. The concept of goal achievement today is so clouded in misconception and uses up so much misguided energy that it literally takes people away from their true success.
If you focus on the future or dwell on the past, you can become distracted from what’s genuinely important in your life right now. Most goals are set because people have certain needs or wants. However, once those lacks have been filled, more often than not others were created or overlooked in the process.
Realize that it’s not the goal you really want but the feeling that comes with its achievement. It is the essence of the goal and not the object. For instance, if you want a $100,000, isn’t it because you value freedom, whether it’s the freedom of following your dreams or the freedom from debt? If it’s becoming vice-president of a large firm, is it because you value recognition, respect, or leadership, and not the position in and of itself?
Conversely, it’s not lack that creates anguish but the feeling of lack. This is why so many people achieve goals and wonder why they’re still not happy. So, a goal should not be looked upon as a way to fill a need but a as way to help you design the course you can take to enjoy — and give a meaning to — life.
For example, if you set out to achieve goals, are you only going to feel fulfilled after you’ve reached it? Do you, for example, work five days a week in order to enjoy the remaining two? Do you work with retirement in mind and dread — or, worse yet, waste — those remaining years just because of that one goal? Do you say, “Once I get these miserable years behind me I can start enjoying what’s left”? Ugh! That’s worse than having no goals at all.
Today, I see too many people who “work for a living” or for some future goal (such as retirement) and waste their lives in the meantime as a result. In the case of retirement, for instance, I ask myself why do people work two-thirds of their lives just so they can enjoy the remaining one-third — when that remaining one-third is guaranteed to no one!
As Lao Tse, the Chinese prophet, once said, “Many climb the ladder of success only to find out at the top that it was leaning against the wrong wall.” If you believe that your goals will bring you happiness and fulfillment, your success will always be a step ahead of you.
You are but running a race against time, a race in which you’ll always end up losing in some way or another. In other words, true success hinges on how you feel about what you do right now at this very moment and not after you’ve “climbed the ladder.”
Are you loving what you do or doing what you love? If not, then you know that even if you managed your time effectively, even if you achieved many of your goals, you would never really accomplish much or feel that you have (let alone be happy with the result).
The truth is simple. Success without happiness is failure. Fulfillment and a sense of fulfillment are different. The more valuable the essence of what you seek is to you personally, the more value — or sense of fulfillment — you will automatically get from the journey. One is directly proportional to the other.
Reggie Leach said it this way, “Success is not the result of spontaneous combustion; you must set yourself on fire.” In other words, you are successful because of your happiness and not the other way around. Do what you love and enjoy the things that really matter. If not, you might not live long enough to get — let alone enjoy — that which you so desperately seek.