When it comes to setting goals, not all goals are created equal. In fact, many of the goals we set can lead us in entirely the wrong direction if we aren’t careful, and we can end up arriving at a place we never intended to go to at all.
The right goals must be set based off of our DEEPEST and most fundamental beliefs and priorities, and they must change as those beliefs and priorities change in order to truly be effective.
The best way to illustrate this point is with a powerful example, so I will tell you a story of a hypothetical person who set goals, worked hard, and pushed themselves to grow, but ended up in the wrong destination with a reward that left them feeling empty and without accomplishment.
Example : Joey.
Joey is a 45 year old man. He is a successful banker, and he started out as a teller at a small bank and worked himself up into an executive position and a large corporate bank in just 10 years. Joey now makes around 2 million dollars per year at his job, he owns a nice sports car and a 5 million dollar home. Joey has a beautiful wife and 2 children, but life is not at all what he had in mind when he set his goals about 20 years ago,. He barely knows his children, his wife just filed for divorce, he is out of shape, and he is so focused on money that he can barely think of anything else.
When Joey was only 25 years old, he met the woman of his dreams while working as a teller at a small local bank. He fell in love hard, and within a few years they were married, had a child, moved into a modest home, and started their new life together. By the time their second child came around about a year later, Joey’s finances had become strained.
His wife was on maternity leave and he could barely provide for his family on his meager salary. Determined to be an excellent family man and provide for his family, he set goals that would motivate him to become a head executive banker and bring in millions per year by the time his kids would go off to college.
As Joey planned, he started working his way up the corporate ladder: he worked more hours than anyone else, took work home, constantly stayed on call and worked up to the local bank manager within 5 years. By this time, his money problems had come to abrupt stop and he and his wife were able to save a respectable amount each month for college, but rather than reexamine his priorities (to provide for his family and be an excellent family man) Joey continued on his quest to conquer a large corporate bank in his city.
As Joey continued to neglect spending time with his family by working long hours, taking on more hours and responsibilities at work, and increasing his status at the workplace, he missed out most of his children’s life milestones, he severed the once powerful connection with his wife, and he watched the life he once fought so hard to protect fade into oblivion.
One day Joey woke up on his 45th birthday with a divorce letter tacked the door and a letter stating that his wife was moving on and taking the kids to his mother in law’s home in Maine.
As Joey sat in his expensive home, on his expensive bed, looking out the window to his expensive sports car, and occasionally glancing up at the family picture of he and his family- from 18 years earlier when he was just a smooth faced kid starting out on his corporate quest- he shed a tear for the life he once swore to protect.
Joey had accomplished all of his life goals, but he ended up destroying the things in life in which he held most dear to him. If for even one moment in the last 15 years if he had considered what was REALLY important to him, he may have seen the true reality of what was happening to him, but now it is too late.
The moral of the story.
You could be Joey, whether you are a male or a female reading this post, I am sure you can relate to the frustration and anguish that Joey felt looking back on a life that was mislived.
Life is often lived in extremes: either extreme dedication to a singular goal that robs you of the enjoyment of the present, or an extreme devotion to the moment and instant gratification that robs you of your potential and better opportunities that could have existed for you in the future.
Too much focus on the moment makes you fail to see the longer term ramifications for your choices and actions, and too much focus on the long term makes you fail to see the power you have in each moment to maintain your deepest priorities.
Joey could have just as easily squandered away his life doing nothing and working at the same local bank never providing anything for his family, but the true magic of life was somewhere in between the two scenarios.
Be careful as you set your goals to consider what is REALLY important to you.
Each moment, and each time you look at the bigger picture you should find yourself in alignment with the BEST version of yourself. Your best self doesn’t have to be a millionaire, it could just be a great parent, 100 lbs lighter, or more mindful of your interactions with your family.
Only YOU can decide what is really important, but never, ever forget what really matters most to you.
Did this post speak to you? Care to share a story of your own or give your own example? Leave a comment in the section below and join the conversation.