Ya, you’re right. What I just wrote goes against so much of what is common in the personal growth industry. I think every writer of this genre has a section of their work dedicated to setting goals and reviewing them. Anthony Robbins, Stephen Covey, Wayne Dyer and Benjamin Hardy have all written and talked about the need to decide upon and head for our goals. And I agree with them. It is important to pursue our goals. However, what the goal is, I am discovering, really doesn’t matter.
You see, when I decide upon a goal, say reaching the summit of a mountain, I challenge myself. There are many ways of meeting that challenge. I can try to go straight up, in a beeline, to the summit. That, depending upon the mountain and my experience, will take the least amount of time, and it’s also the riskiest way to get to the top, especially if I’m new at it. I could go around and around the mountain, each time spiraling slightly above where I had hiked before. That’s probably the longest way, needing the least amount of experience required to make it to the summit. I may combine the two methods. Perhaps I can study the methods of those who have gone before. There are many ways to the summit.
The ‘how’ of reaching my goal, for me, is what it is all about. If I am an experienced climber, then I will take the more challenging route. I believe that it’s the challenge of the goal that pulls us forward. It forces us to use our talents, extend our limits, push ourselves out of our comfort zone to aspire to new things that really matters. The real work? That happens in the ascent.
It is the path that I take, the errors that I correct, the struggles I fight and the anguish that I emote that makes achieving a goal worthwhile. If I was able to make it up one rock-face, I know I have the ability to scale the next one. The wind and the cold vie with focus and endurance, trying to throw me off of the climb. And even if I don’t reach the top for whatever reason, I have created a new experience, new or sharpened skills, and improved self-confidence all at my ready to take onto the next goal. Getting to the top really doesn’t matter. It is what I learn along the way that enlivens me.
I believe that it is important to make worthy goals for ourselves. They are what lead us forward, force us to think in different ways and put us into situations which challenge everything we think we know about ourselves and the world. A worthy goal will pull me along. It will force me to leave behind parts of myself that are no longer valid. It will lead me to a newer version of myself. I achieve this by the process of getting to the goal, not because I achieve the goal. And at the end, once I have reached the summit, it’s usually anticlimactic. “What’s next?” I ask myself.
So make yourself some goals in life. Work hard to achieve them. And once you get to the top of the mountain, take the time to reflect on what it took to get you there. Enjoy the experience but know that after you get there, you have to make your way down, the next part of the journey toward your next worthy goal. Life happens on the way up to the top of the mountain, not on summit. Nature shows us: growth happens in the valley, not on the mountain top. As with life, so it is with our goals; it really is the journey that counts, not the destination.
And remember, if I really only want to see the view from the top, I can always hire a helicopter.