If I asked you today if you have any goals in life, I’d probably struggle to find a single person who doesn’t. We want to get into university, to finish university, find a job, get a car, have children, or buy a new antique tea set.
These are everyday goals we all have. Even if they are a few years in the making, they’re not truly long term. I don’t want to write about them today. I want to talk about a different type of goals entirely.
The ultimate goals in life.
I should probably explain what I mean. However, as my train of thought can be a mess on wheels sometimes, I will use a metaphor.
Imagine you’re going on a road trip across the US.
It’s a very long journey, you obviously won’t manage to cover all this distance in a day or two, and there are so many interesting things along the way that it would be a waste not to stop here and there. Your journey can last days, weeks or even months.
So you start planning. You think of where you’re going to eat, which museums to visit, you book nights in hotels and reserve tickets for more popular attractions.
This road trip is your life, the detailed plans of different things to do – short term goals. The route itself, that’s your ultimate goal. One that dictates which areas you’ll be driving through. And although you might deviate from it here and there, you will probably stay on track for the most part.
Ultimate goals are ones that guide all the other, smaller goals in our lives.
I value them above all else because it’s them that help me pick and choose various opportunities as they come along. That’s why I really don’t understand why people don’t focus on them more. There are whole books written about planning for the next 5-10 years. Or planning your week. Your yearly brand strategy. Monthly budget.
Ultimate goals aren’t specific. Maybe that’s why they don’t sell. They’re not sexy enough. They’re more of a direction than a pre-decided path. And, I guess, motivational speakers and coaches try to sell you a path.
But I’m going on here about how unsexy ultimate goals are and I’m not even sure you know what I’m talking about.
Let me give you an example.
One of my ultimate goals in life is to have a good work-life balance. I work hard when I’m at work, but I don’t want it taking over my life. I want to leave the office at a reasonable time and be able to spend the evening doing things I enjoy, or meeting people I like. Being available 24/7, replying to work emails at 2am on Saturday or 7am starts are simply things that I don’t want in my life. No matter how much money they’d bring me.
This means that I made a conscious decision not to pursue certain types of careers, like investment banking, which, although very lucrative, is notorious for insanely long working days.
It might sound crazy, because I’m young, and I should work my bum off and reap the benefits later, right?
Not saying you shouldn’t, but you know what? I’ll pass.
(Actually, I don’t think you should. But that’s a topic for another blog post.)
When I first told Mr Arguably Honest that I was going to write a blog post about ultimate goals in life his first response was “What do you mean?”. I elaborated, and we started talking about what our ultimate goals in life are. Although at first he said he doesn’t have any, when I kept on probing and asking more questions, he realised he actually has some. Sometimes we just don’t think of them as ultimate goals, even if we have them somewhere at the back of our heads.
I would say I can identify three I have:
- I want to have a good work-life balance, as I mentioned above
- I want to be happy – I know it’s insanely broad, but I think keeping this in mind at all times is important.
- I don’t want to rush and I want to enjoy my life, a day at a time. (On which more can be read in my post about rushing). Basically, I want to be like the girl in the picture below. Minus the birds. I bloody hate birds.
These are simple goals. Obvious, you could say. And I agree, they are very simple, they are very broad, and, indeed, also very obvious.
Yet sometimes so hard to achieve.
All goals give us a sense of direction, ground us – in a good way. It’s difficult to work hard if you don’t know where your work is going. But only focusing on short term goals, ones you can almost touch, is quite short sighted. You might accidentally hit the jackpot and have this uncoordinated bunch of plans and ideas align perfectly and making you happy. Or you might end up realising, at 50, that you don’t have any sense of direction in life. Personally, I’d rather avoid the latter.
To finish off, let’s go back to the road trip we were planning at the beginning of this post. You could just jump in the car, not take a map, not plan any route, nothing beyond the first 3 or 4 stops, or maybe not even that. And it could be an adventure of a lifetime. Or you could end up in the desert. It’s good to have something to guide you through life. Unless you really like deserts.
I want to leave you today with a little bit of an exercise.
Spend 10-15 minutes thinking of what’s important to you in life. Where you want to be, not in 5 or 10 years, but in 50. What you would regret doing or not doing. In other words, think of what your ultimate goals in life could be. They don’t have to be specific. They shouldn’t be. You don’t know what’s going to happen along the way. They’re your guides, not a life itinerary. Try to come up with at least 2 or 3, but it can be more, or it can be just one.
If you’re brave enough, share them in the comments below, or on any other social media. You might just open someone’s eyes to a thing they didn’t consider before! If you’re not brave enough, write them down, keep them close, don’t forget.
Just a reminder that the blog is not the only place where you can find me. :)
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