I recently stumbled over texts and videos from Vera Birkenbihl, a brilliant management talker. Her message is as relevant today as it was during her lifetime. In one of her speeches she discusses life goals. She claims that most people don’t have any life goals and I fully agree with her. In this article we will discuss why you should have a theme for your life. The goal of this posting is to provide you some food for thought about the topic so that you can find your own theme.
Our society is stuck in Kindergarten
When we are born into this world our parents protect us and help us all the way until we reach adulthood in most cases. So from the beginning we are supervised, receive guidance and can rely on others to take responsibility.
Most primitive tribes have a ritual at one point where an individual becomes a responsible member of society. It is the tale of the knight going out to slay a dragon and save the princess. These rituals mostly symbolized that a person is now able to take ownership for his or her actions and therefore be an adult.
We don’t have this anymore in our society and therefore keep relying on others during our whole life. Our society is stuck in a Kindergarten like behavior. We hedge against all sorts of risks by buying insurances and saving from early on for our retirement. If something goes wrong we point to the government that is responsible for us.
By living that way and always putting responsibility into a third partys’ hand it is only natural to neglect having life goals. Why should we have any goals, after all we are in good hands anyway.
Having a theme for your own life
Young Napoleon apparently was confronted by General who didn’t like him being so cocky. Napoleon opened the tent, where the discussion took place, looked at the sky and asked the general what he is seeing. The general annoyingly said obviously I see the gray clouds at the sky. And I see my star right behind those clouds said Napoleon.
Not having a theme for your life poses several problems. For one you guide the waters of destiny without a compass and no real destination. With no end goal there is no arriving just a never ending road trip.
Sailors in the past looked to the skies for orientation. When the sky was cloudy they had to wait but as soon as the clouds cleared they were able to continue their journey. We on the other hand mostly focus on the clouds and get distracted while doing so.
Our perception changes based on our goals
Each and everyone of us has his own flavor how he sees the world. There is a biological and a physiological perception. Depending on our current goals and priorities that is how we perceive life.
This happens all the time in life when we become interested in a new topic. Let’s say you suddenly want to buy a camper because you are interested in camping. Suddenly out of nowhere there are campers everywhere on the street.
This is because our consciousness has only limited space and acts like an old floppy disc than is being rewritten constantly as we live according to our interests and goals.
So depending on your current wants that is how you see the world.
Switch the reacting mode off
People with no life goals have a tendency to live stressful lives. Having no real mission means only following short term goals. In other terms you are just reacting to your environment.
This might be you, if not I am sure you know plenty of people that react allergic to any sort of change in life or at work. Every small distraction feels like a a lot of work to you. Your energy household is always low because you are being distracted all the time and pulled in all directions. This is very tiring because in the long run you feel like you don’t move get anywhere in life.
If you have a star (goal) that you follow like Napoleon did you won’t have less work. But the workload and busyness of everyday life will not feel burdensome. This is because your focus is on the big picture and small everyday obstacles don’t raise your stress level. After all these are only small pebbles on your journey.
Life goal examples if you have none
In the bible is a recurring story that you might know. A master puts his servants in charge of his goods while he is going away. Upon his return the master will assesses the stewardship of his servants. The servants are being evaluated on how wise they invested. If a servant invested well it was a sign of faithfulness. If the servant played it safe and did nothing with the assets he will be punished.
This anecdote can be used for our first life goal example. There is no higher goal than to develop you skills as much as possible. Don’t invest in yourself just to become wealthy but unlock your abilities that you are gifted with in order to grow and enable others while doing it. If you manage to invest in the things you are good at you will live a satisfied life. There is nothing worse than following a path to impress others or just to fill your bank account when at the end of the day you feel empty and unfulfilled.
The second suggestion is to grow up and take ownership of your doing. Stop relaying on others and become a responsible person. Similar to the first suggestion, playing it save all the time while depending on others to change the world is the sure path to unhappiness. Believe in your abilities, make mistakes, learn from them and keep moving forward. Don’t listen to the nay sayers and the pessimists.
Don’t dismiss every opportunity that presents itself to you because there is a possible downside. Taking ownership is uncomfortable but the rewards will be worth it. Not living this way is the number on regret people have that are laying on their deathbed because they always played it safe.
Life goals – Why you should have a theme for your life final note
If you still don’t have any clue what your life goal should be than keep exploring new things. Think back of your time as a child, what fascinated you back then? It is okay to be unsure and any given point in life, the important thing is to continue looking for your theme. In an upcoming posting I will discuss tools that can assist you in finding you a life goal.