Redefining goal attainment.

What do you want to be when you grow up?” was one of the most featured questions asked of children to engage them, and in an instant you will hear responses shouted wrapped in excitement, half the time, the adult wonders in his/her head how possible or attainable the profession the child just yelled at is, or even more interesting is when the adult had asked the same question multiple times and had gotten a different response each time! or the child that blurts out ” I want to be an Astronaut, a Doctor, a Superhero and a President all before I am 26!”

It fascinates me a lot when I hear children respond to this question of “what do you want to be when you grow up?” because the only thing I remember wanting to be was an Accountant, and I kept steady on that goal and yes I accomplished it too.

This post is not so much about career choices, life decisions, you name it, but more about you.

Many times, we get so focused on the goal it that we forget to look up to see if the track we are running on, is still the track we want to be running on. Sometimes we forget that in the journey to achieving a goal, there needs to be times of pausing, reflecting, introspecting, course corrections, reinforcing and reestablishing the WHY that drives the goal and if that WHY is strong enough and relevant to accomplishing the goal. On one hand, it may be that the goal no longer serves us, we have outgrown the goal or the path to achieving the goal has changed and we get frustrated, dissatisfied or unfulfilled when we accomplish the goal(s) and yet still feel a sense of emptiness.

I, for one, have experienced times of “being lost and listless” even though I accomplished a goal or hit a milestone that was worthy of celebration, as I am a stickler for finishing what you start (and still am and will be.. lol… because it does something to your brain! it wires it to achieve by default). I am a stickler for commitment, staying power, discipline and getting your little trophies (I will write about this soon). I celebrate that. I believe those are great ingredients useful to cook a life of success! BUT I have also learnt that there is a fine thread of wisdom to know when to stop. Sometimes the more important thing is to let go, to stop, to quit (I cannot believe I just wrote that! gosh, I am growing!) and go after what is really worth pursuing. In grander words “letting go of the life you thought you wanted to lay hold on the life you ought to be living”.

In my observation and (well also) connecting the dots backwards, too often we do not acknowledge and honor changes we have encountered or transitions we have gone through; from loss of close ones, to marriage, starting a family, changing countries, jobs, schools, add yours to the list. We go through changes and transitions and do not pause to reflect on what such change/ transition demands of us. Each change is like a new beginning and each new beginning comes with a steep learning curve, so it is okay to be the newbie for a while till you figure out how to sail this change gallantly and get accustomed to your new normal. Would this change require you to reduce workload, change your wake or sleep time, cause more travel? You need to be aware of the demands of the change and transition and own it.

Another is being so goal oriented that we forget the more crucial significance of being who we are in the process of accomplishing the goal/outcome. You see we can be so focused on ticking off the goal as accomplished that we lose sight of the personal transformation happening within and enjoy the process itself. Often, we look forward to the next goal, the next season, the next level that we are not present in the now, who we are now in the process. So, yes, I know you are longing for the next (fill in the blank), but take time to pause to acknowledge your Now.

The story is told of a Larva setting a goal to crawl across the forest and it starts the process towards the goal, does not take time to enjoy the forest floor, the grass, the other crawling insects, instead longs for the goal. The Larva gets frustrated when a change begins to occur as it is metamorphosing into a pupa and would stay in the cocoon for a bit, the time of rest and doing nothing is frustrating for the larva as hey! Nothing is happening, how can I sit and do nothing? It longs for the time it can continue its life, achieve its goal of crawling through the forest, after a bit which looks like a never-ending process, the larva comes out of the cocoon, a butterfly. A beautiful butterfly, with lovely wings (which of course could help achieve the goal  faster by flight) yet the “larva” is angry that all of a sudden, it has stick-like things (legs) and a banner (wings), wondering how that came about and how the legs do not let it crawl like before!

Too often, we are like that larva, we do not acknowledge the changes and transitions, we do not pause, course correct, observe our personal transformation and so we get frustrated that we are no longer operating at our former level which was fine! Forgetting personal transformation, detours of life, lead to great places. So, look up, look around, look ahead, look behind, and best of all look within, you were not made for goals, but goals were made for you.


Reflection questions

  1. What change or transition have you experienced over the last 5 years?
  2. What demands did that change or transition make of you?
  3. What has changed about you having underdone the changes or transitions?
  4. Think of 1-3 goals you are working towards; do they still serve you?


With lotsa love & Teddybear hugs,


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