Sunday, September 04, 2016 6:59 PM
Response to the Derek Sivers Article: Why are you doing?
Goals are for the young. Their goals allow them to push themselves, to experience the ups and downs of life, and to learn who they really are and what they’re capable of. Having achieved a goal, one looks back and sees the entire journey differently for having reached its end. Do that often enough, and one becomes an adult.
Adults come to see life not as an Olympic event, but as a group activity—being a good, supportive family member, being an engaged employee of your workplace, being a contributing member of your community. Goals in this context are what one does with the interstices—diet and exercise, continuing education, workbench projects, artistry, whatever. Thus I find the whole subject of goals difficult to get my arms around.
But exceptions abound—entrepreneurs, visionaries, activists, geniuses of one type or another—such people include disruption in their life plan, while still trying their best also to be the ‘adults’ described above. That’s a tall order—which is why there are not more of such people. Only the truly driven have any reason to make life even more challenging than it already is. The rest of us tend to make a goal of finding something pleasant to do during our leisure time, and making as much of that leisure time as we can.
I thought myself exceptional—until I’d become more familiar with the world and realized that, out of seven billion, exceptional isn’t always automatically ‘rich and famous’. I found my exceptionals to be balanced neatly against my weaknesses. I found ‘rich and famous’ to be a silly goal, because both balance their advantages against their hassles. And I found that personal, private success is hard to enjoy when there are so many people with less comfort, less wealth, and less opportunity.
On the other hand, saving the world is a tall order—and I’m not that ambitious. I would have to satisfy myself with being engaged in my family’s, and my community’s, welfare—but then I became disabled and found myself the target of support, rather than the source. Surprise! Nothing educates like vulnerability. A great chunk of my ego was carved away. A great load of gratitude was grudgingly taken on. I went from dreaming of doing things no one else could do, to wishing I could do what any average person could. I was, as they say, ‘taken down a peg’.
We don’t choose our goals any more than we choose our talents or our failings—goals accommodate themselves to the size of their container, if you will. But I appreciate your advice—whatever the goal, we should all be seeking maximum joy and personal growth—and time is short, so whatever we want to do, we better get busy doing it.
Thus endeth the lesson.