You would think given all the information out in the world around setting goals, that if we don’t set them and meet them, then we’re somewhat flawed as a human being. It looks so much like our wellbeing and happiness is totally dependent on the goals we set and whether we achieve them or not. Well, I want to shake up your thinking around this, and show you that this is in fact a myth.
I used to set goals all the time. I did it because I thought I had to do it be ‘living my best life’. I thought it was setting and reaching goals that brought me happiness and a sense of purpose in the world. The funny thing was, I always felt like I was trapped on a path that often looked different as I set off along it. If something else crossed my path, I wouldn’t pick it up unless it was going to help me get to where I wanted to go. Sometimes I would meet my goals. And I would experience the temporary euphoria and boost, that definitely comes with a sense of achievement. But this only really lasted for a short time, and when it wore off I would be back on the search for another ‘more effective’ goal that would bring me sustained happiness and joy. I did this habitually until someone showed me the mistake I was innocently making. I had innocently attached my happiness and self worth to achieving goals.
“There’s nowhere for you to get to – you’re already here”. Michael Neill.
What I learnt that changed my life was that wellbeing was innate… it was already within me. Like it is within all of us. Kind of comes with the being born thing, like breathing, a beating heart, a thinking brain and all the rest. “Ooohhh, you mean there’s nothing I need to do to become complete… I was actually born that way?” Looks kind of funny when we look at our own child when it’s born (or a grandchild, niece or nephew) – can you imagine thinking that child was in any way born incomplete? Yet it’s so often what we get convinced in to thinking as we grow up.
Until I saw that my wellbeing was already within me, I thought the grass was always greener ‘over there’. I had to always be moving towards something greener, fresher, newer. But as my thinking shifted and my belief in my innate wellbeing grew stronger, I started to see that wow, the grass is pretty green now right where I am. So if there was no where for me to get to, did that mean I didn’t travel? Did it mean I gave up, sat on the coach, never did anything, didn’t look after myself?
No it definitely didn’t! It’s such a common comment I get from my clients when I start to show them they too have innate wellbeing. They fall for the thinking that says, “But if I believe I’m already perfect, why would I even try?”
Because we just do. We start to see that the joy in living comes in the travelling and it all becomes a lot more fun when we see that who we are isn’t tied to whether we achieve goals or not. The joy is actually to be found in the journey towards them.. not the actual destination. I mean, how often do you not even attempt something because the destination looks too far ahead, hard or challenging? Take your focus off the destination and you will find yourself setting out way more often.
As an example, I’ve decided to train towards running another half marathon in October. I haven’t run one for 13 years, and I did that one fueled by glucose (and I was only 35!). So along the path of any goals, there will be bumps in the road.. expect them! Nothing ever happens in a linear fashion, and life get’s ‘in the way.’
But it’s how we see what comes up in front of us that can change everything.
When we see what comes up as an excuse, we will be stopped by it. It will look all too easy to give up and fall down at the hurdle when we see it as an excuse. But seeing anything that stands in our way as an obstacle means we will bring the full force of our creative capacity to work a way around, over, under or through it. Because who we are isn’t dependent on whether we achieve the goal remember? And when we take all that pressure off ourselves we will just show up, have fun, deal with what comes up, and do the best we can. And by doing that, we will start to experience the joy that comes with just doing cool stuff in the world.
That’s where the juice of life is. Not in whether I get there in the end, but how present and connected I am with the journey along the way. With the richness that comes with actually living and embracing life every single day.
So I rarely set concrete goals now. And if I do, they are a lot more ‘flexible’. They’re a lot lighter and freer simply because I know that my wellbeing isn’t dependent upon me reaching it. But boy is it a whole lot more fun in trying to get there!
I saw a quote the other day that said, “Imagine if this was heaven?”. Imagine if this really was heaven? And when we die God asks us how was heaven? Did we have fun, connect, love, and travel? That thought just makes me smile so much. How would it change the way you lived your life if you saw living actually is heaven on earth?
“Wellbeing is not the fruit of something you do; it’s the essence of who are you. There is nothing you need to change, do, be, or have in order to be happy.”