September is a month of change. Changes that we don’t have a lot of control over. Young children start Kindergarten and Grade One for the first time. Young adults begin college, some leaving home for the first time in their lives.
Mother natures brings change in the form of fall coloured leaves, garden vegetations; some dying, some just coming into season.
September is a great reminder that change is a part of life, some changes are pleasant and welcomed, others are not.
I live within walking distance to our provinces’ largest university. Each Fall I see a wave of teenagers with big dreams and goals of becoming something. I know they are at school to achieve something; a job, a title, status; something. No one enrolls in a four-year program with the intention of failing in life or going no where. School, whether it is grades K-12 or post-secondary is about achieving something.
My friend and I were thinking back to when we first started college and noted that none, not a single goal that we had at the beginning of this stage of life came true. Things changed significantly. Between then and now there were accidents, injuries, a change of academic interests, jobs we loved and jobs we hated, moving to different cities, and a host of different friends entered our lives.
We are taught to pursue our goals at any cost, to not give up, stay focused, and not fall off track; but I have to say, sometimes not pursuing and achieving our goals can be a good thing.
Goals can turn from healthy to destructive when the following happen:
Over focusing on one area of your life while neglecting other aspects of your life. Goals certainly require focus, but it’s also important to engage in other activities not related to your specific goal. Variety in life is important and fuels creativity. It also gives you a break from focusing exclusively on tasks related to your goal.
Engaging in unethical behaviour to meet and maintain a goal. A strong desire to meet a goal can lead to desperate actions. If you lie, cheat, steal, or hurt others you’ve gone too far. Your achievements should never involve bringing others down. Success can be obtained through honest means.
Jealousy towards those who have achieved what you are working towards. If you find yourself experiencing feelings of jealousy and envy towards others who have achieved what you want, then it’s important to stop and do some self-inventory and reflection. Envy is a sign that you are focusing more on others than yourself. One way to ward off these negative feelings is to admire the work of others. Let their work inspire and motive you in a positive and non-competitive manor. Learn from them instead of hating them.
Allowing your identity to be based on accomplishments towards your goals. We are more than our job title, hobbies, and achievements. We are well rounded people, we wear many hats: spouse, employee, parent, child, community member, etc. Our identity changes with time. The accomplishments you reach are only one aspect of who you are. People often “fail” at something while achieving a goal. If you have too much of your identity attached to your outcomes, any mistakes or mishaps can be taken too personally. Remember, failing at something doesn’t make you a failure.
I believe The Son of David was wrong when he said,
“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes 1: 2). There is meaning in our lives, there is meaning in the things we do. What matters is the meaning we give to it. This bitter sentiment is what happens when people place too much importance and focus on goal achievements.
Pursue goals, but don’t neglect to enjoy life!