Most of us want to be healthier, wealthier, better at a hobby or at a profession or better at a relationship. At first glance, such goals can appear to be a noble. After all, goals propel us forward and give structure and momentum to life. This is indeed true. Goals are imperative in life. However, examine if your goals are about “being some type of person you are not” or are they about “to do such and such an activity”. And this makes all the difference.
I would like to draw from my own example. At one time I wanted to “be the best energy policy professional in India”. This desire drove me to acquire more knowledge, read and contribute to many forums, take up complex projects and in general try to impress as many people as possible. There was, however, a big catch. All these superb actions came from a sense of great insecurity. Why? In order to “be” someone else (or even a better version of yourself) it implies that you are not good enough right now. This state of non-acceptance is dangerous to one’s own sense of well-being. It converts us into workaholics, stresses us and leaves us empty even when we achieve certain things. Why does this happen? Simply because our goals were born out of non-acceptance and were future oriented. When our entire energy in life is focussed on arriving at a distant point in future – this is a recipe for disaster. This future point is illusory. It is only a mental image of how the future might look like. Such goals must be shunned at all costs.
On the other hand, we have ‘doing’ goals. When I realized that my ambitions were killing me and the people around me, I shifted gears and converted my goal to “I want to read these journals on a regular basis” and “I want to take up projects on sustainable energy systems for rural energy access”. Simpler examples include “I want to make sure that I practice my instrument for two hours on the weekend”. Compare this with the much more distant hazy goal of “I want to be part of that famous band”. Let’s look at another example. Let’s take health and exercise. I think you should be able to identify the ‘being’ versus ‘doing’ goal. Here goes : “I want to lose 10 pounds in 3 months” versus “I want to ensure that I exercise daily for 30 minutes”.
When our attention is focused on doing as opposed to being, the mind is captured entirely in the present moment in the action. Otherwise, the mind goes into flights of fancy – imagining some distant point in future. This prevents us from totally enjoying the activity. “Being Goals” reduce the activity to a means to an end. Whereas “Doing Goals” celebrate and enjoy the activity for the activities sake.
Therefore, start by examining your goals. See if they are about being someone – either alone or together in a relationship or perhaps for your business. If yes, start by converting this hazy future oriented “being” goals to “doing” goals.