I remember when I was in my twenties and starting out working at a job. It was a career choice that would have made sense if I would have been cut out at it. But I was unsatisfied because it didn’t satisfy my “passion”. I had always dreamed of being a philanthropist or psychologist who had a level of importance and authority that people looked to for help or guidance. I did not want the authority to tell people what to do…I just wanted to know the answer to their problem and help them find their way. Funny thing is, I couldn’t find my own.
I had read (or skimmed through) a book called “Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow”. What a grand scheme this book had. Do what you really love to do and it will sustain you.
That mantra still carries on to today. Many people, unhappy with their jobs and/or line of work, have taken the path of following their passion thinking that they can enjoy life more because of it…and a few times they do…very few. In the meantime, they go through the cycle of
- quitting their job to follow their passion,
- passion doesn’t produce results needed,
- get mad at passion and leave,
- take job that is even more unfulfilling,
- trying to find new passion
and so on.
Now some people may say that this is good because you actually get to know yourself and evolve through a process of elimination. This is true I believe but for many who take this route, there is a habit of the cycle and it is never-ending. In fact, it can be debilitating and destructive to a person’s overall life. When reading this, did the thought run through your mind about people and intimate relationships?
While not everyone has this happen in personal relationships, just looking at the cycle and taking that angle, you can see how destructive it can be to someone’s life. So I want to take a different look at this scenario…a cause and effect look.
Let’s just imagine the ultimate goal that is being aimed at. The ultimate goal is to enjoy what do. Enjoy life. Maybe experience the “flow” that once tasted, can sometimes become a passion to find it again. Nonetheless, the goal is to do something that you enjoy doing and not to get trapped in the hunt for it. Without trying to imagine what that is exactly, imagine the feeling. What does it feel like? Is it you standing around, grinning all the time? No, that would be weird. What is the feeling? Is it accomplishment…importance…authority…creating? Find the feeling and the action of it.
This takes a little time to figure because it may not be a certain thing, but a feeling that is being sought as the goal. Now remember, this is the goal and not the means of getting there. And one other thing: the means are temporary and build upon each other. You cannot get to the goal and be done and be fulfilled.
So with this in mind, how do you get there…to each means. Well, just as a sturdy house is built with one brick at a time, your means are built one step at a time. Here is the interesting part though: you do not have to search for that perfect job. You can find that first step where you are right now. You see, sometimes people do not let themselves get into their jobs well enough to experience that “flow”. They yearn for the steps to the great goal to be like that goal. For example, if their goal is to be an authority in a certain field, they seek to be recognized for each “brick” or step and when they are not, the temptation of starting that cycle happens.
So keeping that vision of building a brick house, what is it built upon? A foundation. Have you ever seen a foundation without the house? Is it just a slab of concrete? No, there are things set in it before the concrete is poured to make everything in the future fit correctly: plumbing, electrical, etc. and a lot of digging before all of that. If a contractor keeps moving to a different lot before the digging is done or while the foundation is being built, all that is left is a bunch of holes and messes.
Preventing that mess requires steps being followed and that “flow” can be found in each step if the goal is kept in mind. In reading the book by Jim Collins, Good to Great, he talks about a POW named Admiral Jim Stockdale and how he survived being held in captivity for 8 years. The statements made by Stockdale can be directly applied to this post:
“I never lost faith in the end of the story. I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life…This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end, which you can never afford to lose, with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”
He developed systems for his fellow captives to handle torture, communicate and deal with captivity. He gave them purpose, keeping the ultimate goal in focus. Interestingly enough, he stated that the captives who did not survive were the “optimists” as he called them. Those “optimists” would talk about getting out by Christmas, and Christmas would come and go. Then by Easter, then by Thanksgiving, etc. and in his own words, “they died of a broken heart”.
What does this say about goal setting to you? Four things are evident
- Setting goals (dates, milestones, quotas) for the steps to the ultimate goal is good but can be destructive if the STEP takes the prominent place of the GOAL. (How many times do you want to break and mend your own heart?)
- Small failures will happen. It is a part of the process. (Ask a contractor if they ever built a house with no failures or mistakes)
- Setting up systems for small purposes that point to the overall goal or purpose can lead to sustainability.
- Keeping your eye on the ultimate goal is the key to perseverance.
What is great about this is that it can be started immediately, at any stage in life, at any part in your career and make a difference in your life as well as those around you. Find your “flow” WHERE YOU ARE. Set up systems for those small purposes that point to the overall goal. Set up goals for your steps but do not make them what you live by. Keep your eye on the ultimate goal and stay out of a destructive cycle.