People like to read success stories, because they like to see that mere mortal can achieve extraordinary things. Like voyeurs, we like to think that perhaps we too can undertake a journey, a hero’s journey that will one day be read by others (just like us) and Liked or followed or starred… I mean, who does not want to make a success of themselves? But is success not a personal journey? Ask anyone what their definition of success is, and each person will give you a different answer. It’s like our finger-prints. — We all have them, and they are all different. — but there is a definition that one can attach to success and I would venture to say that success boils down to man’s (or woman’s) ability to reach their goals, — whatever these might be.
The issue with goals, is that they have become elusive like finding that unicorn in the mist and seeing it for a few seconds before it disappears in the morning mist. The non-achievement of goals has almost become a cliche in our modern times. So why don’t we just see a goal and go for it until it is has been achieved? In the days when we lived in caves and sported slightly smaller foreheads, our goals were a bit simpler. We would have a goal for the day… “Survive and kill something so that we could eat it, instead of being eaten by it” — Fairly black and white…
Fast forward to the 21st century and our minds still express a desire to formulate the future with what can be called our goals. — Only now, the goals have become more convoluted. Instead of slaying the deer to eat, we set ourselves goals like…” Consolidate the bank accounts, find the lowest fees for an account that yields the highest returns, so that you can spend less time in the office and more time reading about effective goal setting etc etc”
Let’s look inside our heads for a second… — Our active mind thinks a thought. Done often enough, much like in nature, a pathway is trodden in our minds (neuropathway) and it becomes the most obvious choice for our subconscious mind to take. Nature has a way of allowing us to do things on Autopilot, so that we can perform intricate actions without having to really think about these actions. Once a pathway has been set into the gardens of our minds, it is really quite difficult to stop walking along this path.
So, back to the goals… — When walking through our mental gardens we are faced with different paths to take. The mind wants you to take a route, so that the functions you perform are on autopilot. That’s why we are often accompanied by the monkey mind that lets us have 60,000 thoughts per day, most of which are just like pressing play on a recording. The thoughts are repetitive and they keep looping in. We flop into our days and allow the same recordings to keep playing. This is safe and the mind loves this. (safe from sabre toothed tigers) — But what about the paths need to be taken in order to fulfil our goals in life? Most of us aspire to things that are not on the trodden paths of our minds. To achieve these things, we need to walk a new path. So, we wake up int he morning and have a great idea and the path seems clear. “I have a goal of visiting the Niagra Falls with the family.” We may even write it down. Then comes the time to call to the travel agent, or Google fares, and suddenly we experience a resistance. Our minds start telling us that we won’t afford the trip. That we first need to set aside money for a new SUV, that we first need that promotion before we can afford the trip. What the mind is actually just saying is, “Hey dumb-ass, it’s a crazy world out there. You could be eaten by a sabre toothed tiger. Stay on the path that lies before you and chances are, you will survive the day.”
I am sure it happens to most… Where there was enthusiasm and energy, this quickly gave way to other “important” matters, such as doing the dishes and flopping in front of the TV, or climbing onto Facebook.
I have been looking at this phenomena for a while now. I keep a diary and often document my thoughts pertaining to goals. Sometimes I go back a year or two and read about what I was thinking back then. I then realise with a tinge of remorse, that I had very similar goals and that I still have not done much about them. In fact, this is not a hectic phenomena. I would almost call it a human condition. Over the years, we somehow get lulled into believing that staying on the path that the mind predicates, is the safest way and that it is not prudent to set one’s sites too high. The crazy thing is that this is not really an intellectual decision that we make, but rather a result of biology at work. The mind wants to protect us from he unknown.
There is a little hack to this. All is not lost. Not everyone needs to tow the line. Not everyone is a sheep. — But it does take effort and it is uncomfortable. Are your goals worth some discomfort? If not, I would venture to say that your goals are not exciting enough and you need to set bigger, more exciting goals, but that’s another story.
When setting out on your morning walk (through the mind) and you are struck with that “new” goal, ask yourself… “Am I going to achieve this different result by sticking to the path that I am currently on?” — Your answer would probably not be in the affirmative. What you need to do, is the following… Imagine yourself as a tracker. You are standing in front of the forrest of your day and the path is iluminated in front of you… (take the kids to school, pick up the groceries, blah blah) Instead of blindly following the path that you always take, force yourself to walk into a direction that has no path on it. Frickin’ just walk ! — take a step and then another and don’t expect a path. Don’t take the easy route. Do something that is completely uncharted, without even worrying where it goes. Did I know what was going to evolve when I started writing this? — Nope! Do my ramblings show that I had a clearly defined strategy of exactly what I was going to write? — Nope. I just started walking. I listened to the activation energy that is the Ying of the Yang of the garden of my mind, and suddenly I have arrived at a place that has seen me write for a period of my morning. Will it move me closer to my eventual goals? — I would venture to say that it definitely will. I stepped out of my comfort zone. I did not listen to my monkey that told me to stick to the path because it was safer. I actually rebelled a little and if you could see me now, you would notice a little smirk, ‘cos I got one up on the monkey in my mind.
So to loop all the way back to the idea of the goals, remember that your brain does not like new things. — But you need to be an explorer when you start your day. Revolt against the system. Do something that will set you off on a new path, — Don’t worry if it is not plotted out in advance. The path will take you somewhere. You don’t want it to join with the old habitual paths. You want it to be different, so do something different. Enjoy exploring uncharted area’s. Thrive on the discomfort of the unknown and have fun while you are exploring. Who knows… — if done often enough, you may find gold outside the confines of your comfort zone…