“Perfect self expression will never be labor; but of such absorbing interest that it will seem almost like play.”
– Florence Scovel Shinn
In Succeeding Through Inner Strength, Dr. Nathaniel Branden says that people unconsciously lower their self-esteem through their goals.
They usually start by writing down some nebulous wish and may start working on it with the best of intentions. They may even know exactly what they want and work really hard in order to get it. However and more often than not, they quit and do so sometimes just as fast as they have written it down.
They feel that their goal is unachievable, abandon their efforts out of feeling belittled by such a lofty ambition, or quit due to the accumulation of stress and frustration they’ve acquired in the process. And the worst part is that they usually rationalize their decision by referring to the goal’s seeming unfeasibility or, worse yet, to their inability.
They say things, like, “I knew I couldn’t do it,” “it’s not for me,” “I’m just not cut out for it,” “I’m not worth it,” and so on. Seldom do they know that the problem has nothing to do with the goal in itself — or with themselves, for that matter. It’s in the “why,” not the “how.” It’s what they focused on to start with.
“Setting goals just isn’t enough,” Dr. Branden says. “Ask yourself: ‘What am I going to do next week in order to reach my goal? What about tomorrow? What about now?’ You must become consciously purposeful.”
The point is that you shouldn’t set a future goal and just leave it there. If you do that, I promise you that it will stay there. And the worst part is that it will, more often than not, take you away from your present moments.
Be mindful what’s important during every single moment of your life and not at some point in the future. In other words, make your priorities your goals and then make them a part of your life. Translate your priorities into activities. Make your goals your “conscious purposes,” as Dr. Branden says.
People who live in a state of unconsciousness set goals haphazardly and never achieve much. They let circumstances dictate their lives. They usually work hard and long hours thinking that their actions are somehow contributing to what’s important when very often they really don’t have a clue. They’re the kinds of people who keep striving but never seem to be arriving.
If you want to become truly successful, then be aware of what you do in the way of how important it really is to you. Translate what’s important in your life into whatever you do. At the end of this book, I will teach you a system for helping you to do just that.
It’s called the GOAL system and it’s a simple priority-setting tool that will help you to systematically convert your values into actions. But for now, simply know that being congruent is the key to true success.
As a result, you will learn to love what you do or do what you love. You will raise your self-??esteem and make your goals achievable. You will develop an appreciation for life as well as enhance your quality of life. You will attract those things you so desperately seek that have eluded you in the past. And most important, you will sleep better at night.
As an old proverb says, “A clear conscience makes for a soft pillow.” Simply, you will be arriving rather than striving.
Nevertheless, find out what’s important in your life and make it a part of your life right now. That’s what being consciously purposeful is all about. If you don’t know what you really want, then make that your conscious purpose.
Understand that success, happiness, purpose, and meaning are not things that you either find or achieve but bring to life. If you’re mindful of your priorities, you will also have greater peace of mind in whatever you choose to do.
So, stop working around your goals and start working around your priorities. Goals don’t make you who you are. It is the essence of your goals or the things you value the most in life that make you who you are.
Your goals should be an expression of your inner you, of how you want to feel right at this very moment, and not at some later time. As I said before, rather than dwelling on the past or focusing on the future you should be conscious of your present moments.
If you love what you do or do what you love, not only will work seem like play but also success will flow to you in unexpected ways. All that you require to reach your goals, all the skills, knowledge, attitudes, people, and experiences you will need, will come to you automatically.