Saturday, September 24, 2005

A thought on setting goals

Setting goals:
The problem with setting goals is that you need to think of the goals less as a task. I blame the problem on the Greeks. It’s an idea we owe to the Hellenic thinkers have pushed into a large part of the world’s thinking.

(This segues into my problem about Buddhism)

People feel they have to balance “other” things against survival. They can’t be political, or spiritual, or economical all at once. The Hebrew idea of us all having multiple souls isn’t much better… though it does make in some key respects a better analogy. The purpose of life is not suffering; the purpose of life is living. You live life as a sinner, a saint, a priestess, a prophet, a labourer, a student, a lover, a wife, a child… you are all those things as one person. So trying to exclude one thing or another to allow you to be “real” or “basic” means you are less you.

How does this relate to goals? They key setting a goal isn’t making a checklist. Checklists are boring… I mean do you like to read check lists for fun? No of course you don’t. The key is an ending, or even the next chapter in a story. Not a paragraph, not a page, not a sentence. It’s the story. The key to setting good goals is to close your eyes and see the picture of the end. I like to focus on the end of my life sitting in a study looking at a book.

I’m looking at a diary with photos and newspaper clippings, and other manners of my past. The events dovetail one into the other, even in ways I didn’t understand in the story but in the final chapter it all fits together. Some times I rewrite the pages, past or remove things but the ending of the story doesn’t change and the body may be fuller or more in-depth but in the end it doesn’t really change. Outside the room are my family waiting for me to come out and spend my last night with them. It is a loving and warm and homey environment that I can reflect on the end of my days.

That’s how I keep my eyes on the prize… I use check lists to run a diagnostic, but they are never the goals.

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