On Setting Goals
I think that, as we are growing up, we learn to create two different people. One is the person we create for others — for mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers, friends, the common society. And one is the honest person we are for ourselves. Who we are and who we would like to be regardless of the opinions and expectations of other people. Sometimes there is alignment between our two people, and sometimes there is not.
Sometimes, when we are not clear which person we are (the person for ourselves or the person for others), it becomes difficult to define the final outcome. And sometimes I think this is why it’s difficult to be goal-oriented. How can you have a goal when you can’t decide your final outcome?
I remember when I first moved to Costa Rica, and then again to Austria, I never made it clear for myself what I wanted out of both experiences. Things just happened. And while I still managed to get a lot out of both years, I felt like I wasted a lot of time in the process, doing things that wouldn’t contribute to my purpose of being there. And I think the most unfortunate consequence is that we never really learn to take control of our lives. We let life happen to us — based completely on the circumstances — instead of painting our own stories and living them as we would want to live them.
A couple of months ago, I was talking to someone who had just moved to Austria. He stated three very clear things he wanted to gain from being in Austria. Something that I think I had never done, or rather I had done it in theory but at that time I wasn’t sure what I wanted, so it became something just on paper and not truly lived.
For me, it was empowering to see him state these three very clear things. They were specific, they made sense, and they seemed completely possible. They gave direction, which I found to be the most exhilerating thing.
The world is full of a lot of fluff and other stuff. There are many things you could do, many things you feel like you should do, but at the end of the day, almost nothing matters. As one person, there really are severe limits to what you can and cannot do, and moreover, your time is short. Be completely honest with who you are and who you want to be, and set very clearly what you want from everything you do. Success is more about what you choose not to do rather than what you choose to do. The more things you choose not to do, the more free you feel to do those things which excite and empower you the most. It really is amazing to say no to everything else.
And the evidence shows that the more specific you are, the higher chances you have of a favorable outcome. I read this article not too long ago (http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/07/10/419202925/the-writing-assignment-that-changes-lives) And there was brilliant perspective on the connection between “expressive writing” or “self-authoring” — writing down your feelings, perspectives, and thoughts — and connecting those to your personal motivations and drivers, and connecting those insights to the specific goals and strategies you can set for yourself.
And I really think that partly it just has to do with time and experience. As I said before, for Costa Rica and Austria I was never really that clear on what I wanted from those two experiences, but the experiences themselves were intense enough to give me better insights on how to set specific goals and focuses. Now, in Spain, it’s much easier for me to know what I want out of the experience. So I think it’s okay if you’re not ready for it initially.
But the moment you feel the “click” in your brain, it really is the best thing to hop on that and take full advantage of knowing very clearly the person you want to be — a rarity in the world these days.