Goals and sub-goals are fantastic things. They list out exactly what we wish to accomplish, mapping the road in front of us clearly, and give us a concise directive…”Lose five pounds in the next two months” or “Enroll in college and start working towards my [bachelors, masters, etc].”

That’s a good thing, right?

Absolutely!

Except…see you knew there was a catch, right?…what if your goals are not aligned with what YOU want? What if your goals were made while thinking about:

  • What others expect from you
  • What your ‘responsibilities’ are to your family, friends, or society
  • What you ‘should be doing’

Why would anyone make decisions based on what others think they should do? Well, unless you have grown up in a pack of wolves, unless you have that very rare sense of self that knows exactly what you want and goes straight after it and lets nothing (and no one) stand in your way, then it isn’t too surprising.

We make decisions every day based on others. We fit into society and move within its boundaries and expectations. We are polite, we say thank you and please. We take turns at stop signs and avoid conflict with our co-workers.

Are we always this way? No! There are times when everyone’s anti-social side takes hold. But the majority of the time a majority of us are working within society’s expectations and conforming to the spoken (and unspoken) rules of conduct.

It is easy to lose yourself in that world. But how much unhappiness stems from compromise and capitulation? As in all parts of our lives, we must find balance.

List out three of your goals.

Right now…I’ll wait.

Okay, got them?

Look at your list and ask yourself, “Why that goal?” List your reasons beside it.

Now look at the reasons and underline them if they are other-based and circle them if they are you-based.

If a goal is other-based it has a far less chance of a) making you happy if it is accomplished and b) being accomplished at all.

If it is you-based, you know that this is a goal that you care about. Finding goals that are aligned with our own inner happiness are far more important than trying to make and achieve goals based on what we think our parents, family or society thinks of us. If we are happy deep inside, if we are accomplishing goals based on our needs and our interests, then it will allow us to grow as individuals. Eventually that growth can lead to us giving back (or not) to our community and those that we love on a scale that is tremendously magnified by our new inner joy.

Creating and striving for goals that benefit us as individuals is not selfish, it is the highest form of benefit we can give to ourselves and it will spread from us to others.

Take some time to sit back and ask yourself, “What is it that I want from my life?” You don’t have to have all the answers. It might be as simple of an answer as, “I want to be happy” or “I want a new career”.

Take it slow. Write down you-based goals that align with your needs and wants and leave the other-based goals at the door for now. Begin to work on them and don’t be afraid to revise them as you go along. Nothing is set in stone, not us and not our goals. Eventually, as you grow happier and more content inside, as you find the peace you have been seeking, your actions will naturally begin to impact those around you in positive ways. In other words, the other-based goals may often occur naturally, without any compromise or sacrifice of your you-based needs.

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