Goal-Setting Hack: Enjoying Life While Achieving - Part 1
This is almost like my approach to spiritual growth in that it leads to personal expansion and greater depth in your life experience, but it's something you can do while still maintaining ambition toward achievement.
It's about how to retune your brain so you can enjoy the journey, which is the sum of your life. Achieving is a mind-heavy process which is why it's easy to get off-track in the process of our pursuits. We start hyper-focusing on a task and disconnect from the bigger picture. This is written in part because when you are in a state of continual growth, you can better stay connected to the fact that nothing in life is really such a big deal. Nothing can “take you out” or make you suffer, and better yet – you can do anything and everything you want. You aren’t trapped by the “learned helplessness” that is created by a safe and predictable routine – in that you learn from your own behavior, what “you” can do. When you make a habit of trying things that are really hard and make you feel dumb, you stay connected to your “bigger self” – that is you-in-this-entire-lifetime, sense. Because it’s easy to forget when you were a kid and you didn’t care – when you tried before your brain could speak up. I want to help you grow that self a bit more. This is inspired by something I’ve been experiencing lately – which is a great energy and heightened awareness of my own ability. It came in part from doing things that are really challenging and not fun or comfortable. I see a lot of people who become slaves to habit which creates a fear of change and a perceived lack of ability as soon as they venture outside that routine. So in many ways, this is about the danger of comfort and how to initiate a flexible and changeable self. It’s also about ways you can set goals so that you can actually participate in your life’s fruits: the experiences of the journey, not the destination.
Part 1: The What
When we set goals, we often set them on symptoms: outcomes that are singular and finite. For example, you might set your sights on a title, a situation –like being married, or a physical state – like a certain weight. However, that thing in itself has no real value – it’s like an idol or a totem. We chase it because we believe it is what makes people happy. We are taught by commerce to look outwards for something to fill our voids. Ironically it is this seeking of external that creates the voids in that we are never fulfilled by them, never quenched – because the goal is always “out there.” However, there is a profoundly simple fix to this vicious cycle. If you simply rephrase your goal to be a way of living: a way of feeling about yourself, or an approach to a great life, simply saying ‘to live a great life,’ the method to get that goal will change. It rearranges the hierarchy to put today, and your participation in it – at the top of importance. It sounds vague and overly simplified, but that simple shift of focus wholly purifies and alters your trajectory toward it. This is how you actually head toward happiness and not just “a thing just like in the picture of a person who is happy.”
In the same way that you might reframe the pursuit of happiness over a lifetime, you can reframe the way you think about personal success. As something bigger than a badge/symptom. Bigger than measures created by external structures (aka Instagram, TV, everyone at school, your parents). Just like a pro athlete trains for certain competitions, you can train for a greater experience of your life – one that exceeds the “important” badges of society at large. This is how you grow past any current limits of thinking. You deliberately grow yourself by practicing a higher/better focus. The muscles you can choose to train are the muscles of growth and change. Of self-betterment, wisdom, compassion, understanding, spirituality. All the good stuff! The big idea, stuff. The stuff that exists beyond the body-dysmorphia, the fear, isolation, shame, stuckness, self-loathing, frustration with career, and other commonly perceived inadequacies.
Because when you focus on pure and simple expansion, you gain perspective. You get out of your own way and sprout wings. You stop playing with dolls and you start living life outside of that room you’re stuck in. And when you start prioritizing your life as an ever-growing and vast entity – over the individual symptoms, you stop attaching to things that aren’t serving you. You can put them down and look deeper, higher. And coincidentally, when you are constantly pushing yourself to grow and change beyond regular life stuff, regular life stuff get easier. They get just as silly and trivial as they are, because suddenly they don’t dictate anything to you, the person. Failure isn’t such a harsh word because that’s just part of pursuing growth. Life takes on greater purpose. It all starts by making that a goal: To live a great life, to grow your scope as a human, to advance beyond what keeps you stuck, to love yourself and enjoy your life, to embody your truest potential and not be trapped by fear, to be guided by love and not pettiness or fear, to live without self-judgment. What if the approach to being was the goal and not the thing: the money/beauty/status/idols? Once you set this goal, you simply align your day-to-day approach. Via this new goal, everything is wide open because you are never measured by any external “failure.” You’re simply forever in a process of growth and change, active in your experience. This is also how you avoid the trap of fear and attachment – the fixation on the idols that creates our blindness, powerlessness and stagnation.
Coming up next, part 2: the why…