As I hold my baby daughter at four in the morning, feeling the softness of her cheek against my own…
Self-help gurus love goals. “Success is goals, and all else is commentary,” says one guru. Self-help masters proclaim their love for goal
setting in myriad places – books, audiotapes, box sets with titles like Write it Down, Make it Happen, and meditation exercises designed to achieve goals that really excite you, often involving hot property and fast cars.
It’s true that knowing what you want – and writing it down – can help you to plan. You can write out a step-by-step action plan, for example, complete with boxes to tick. Goals can help stave off procrastination – and once specific goals have been ticked off, you can then replace them with even more goals, ensuring that your life journey is always on the straight and up. Up, up, up the ladder you go.
The underlying message here is that there’s a gap to fill – the gap between how things are now and how you really want them to be. It’s premised on the assumption that there’s a shortfall in your life – a deficit that with commitment and labour you may eventually overcome, provided you follow your goals.
But one could argue that living a life of ‘deficit’, one of ‘what’s missing’, is no way to live. You may habitually overlook your accomplishments and blessings. If you’re forever climbing the ladder of goals you fail to appreciate the surrounding scenery.
And whose goals are these anyway? Are you chasing prefabricated dreams sold from television sets and books you read as a child? Perhaps what’s needed is a final goal to every list you create, and that’s to accept and appreciate things as they already are.