I have been confused, many times, by the meanings/uses of goals and the process of achieving them. By process, I mean the steps on the journey that are needed to do something. This is the time when you want to do something but don’t know how to do it. So you ask and learn. Experiment, fail, adjust and retry. It is a time when you are trying to figure things out.
By goals, I mean the result or outcome you will see by “doing” these things during your journey.What is it that we want to see happen? Of course, you need a goal to then decide the learning needed to figure out the steps you need to take place to achieve that goal.
My confusion comes about from two distinct problems: (1) becoming too lost in the journey or discovery of the steps needed along the way to get to your goal (2) by believing in broad goals that excite us but where their substance can be interpreted in too many ways making them inherently unachievable.
The tension between these two words (process and goals) is much like a teeter totter. Too much of one without the discipline to see the other makes us out of balance and not very effective.
How does this happen? First, we always get excited when we set out a goal to do something. It makes us feel like we have “already arrived”. We declare victory before the fight. Just saying this makes us feel so good. The problem with most goal statements is that we normally make the goal too broad, too aggressive, and in many respects unachievable.
We forget totally about the time and difficulty it will take for us to achieve a goal. We say the goal openly to stroke our ego by having others become envious of what we state we will achieve. There will be no difficulties or setbacks because we have already stated the outcome.
Innocently we start the process of getting to our goal. The learning becomes interesting. We spend a great deal of time trying to become an expert. I’ve many times been caught in feeling great about learning new things yet never able to push through to realize my goal. I simply lost sight of the goal. This happens quite often when using consultants or involving people with technical knowledge that I didn’t have. Learning what they know feels so good when I now know it.
What happens then? We forget about our specific goal. We tend to rest in our new knowledge without realizing our lack of visible progress towards the accomplishment of our goal.
What also happens? When we make the goals too broad we generally “miss the mark”. First, there are too many aspects of the goal making it inherently unachievable. You can’t do everything.
Secondly, our learning may teach us that our goal needs to be adjusted or changed. This could be good or bad. If we really believe in the outcome we want, maybe we are not learning the right things to get there.
Other times, we need to change the goal but in doing so we settle for something far less that is easier to achieve.
Life’s balance is so difficult and so subtle. It demands that we pay attention to the details around us while understanding clearly what needs to get done. Experience and age helps us discover this balance. This balance is unique and different for each of us.
All that remains is finding the perseverance and strength within us to never give up trying.