Goals Give Me Purpose
In honor of my 50th birthday, I will set 50 small goals in 2016.
I was reading a novel this week and came across the term, “first principles.” After doing a bit of research on the various meanings of the term, I found this definition in the Cambridge Dictionaries Online: “the basic and most important reasons for doing or believing something: We seem to have forgotten why we're fighting this campaign - we really need to return to first principles.” Synonyms for this are cause, drive, motive, and reason.
This caught my fancy and I started thinking, “Could I organize my life around a First Principle? How would I spend my time, energy, and money differently?”
It reminded me of being in graduate school. For two and a half years my life became beautifully simplified; my Prime Directive was to graduate. Getting through grad school became the motivating force behind everything I did. I gave up most of my hobbies, pared down my social life, and did only minimal housework. I spent almost all my free time reading and writing papers or recovering from so much reading and writing. It was very, very hard but there was a beauty in working toward this one goal in my life.
Most of us do not find it either feasible or desirable to be so single-minded throughout our lives. We need friends and hobbies not to mention vacation and exercise. I am still captivated, however, by the idea of a goal or a philosophy to organize my life.
I originally began this post on December 1. It has been a full three weeks since then and I became more and more restless as I pondered the idea of a First Principle. Meanwhile this year is winding down and in 2016 I face my 50th birthday. A full half-century on this planet.
On my quest I visited web sites which offered to help me find my purpose. In fact I wrote a statement of purpose based on an exercise I found on one of these sites, but it felt hollow. It helped me define my career and business goals, but didn’t do much to help me organize the rest of my life. It didn’t help me decide whether I’d rather buy a new pair of boots or 50 coffees at Starbucks with my friends. It doesn’t help me decide whether to join the Mountaineers or follow local politics. It does not help me sort out the people I want to spend my free time with.
Finally this morning after a terrible night’s sleep and a cup of black coffee, I began a rambling, feverish journal entry about how restless I felt. As so often happens, journaling gave me clarity and I came up with (I think) a brilliant idea. In honor of my 50th birthday, I will set 50 small goals in 2016. Challenges, if you will. So far I’ve come up with three things I think will bring me happy moments: an evening roller skating at my local rink, taking a motorcycle endorsement class, and finally planning a trip to England. Hmmm… 47 challenges for my list before I share it with friends and family on January 1.
So far I’ve included something I used to love (roller skating), something I wanted to do (motorcycle endorsement class), and something I dreamed of doing (trip to England). I also want to connect with friends and people in my community in a new way. I want to step outside of my comfort zone and become a better, more positive person.
Already I feel excited and I realize this: setting goals t gives me purpose. I am happier, calmer, and feel an energy and whimsy I’ve been missing.
So here is to setting personal, exciting goals that make life fun and challenging. I’d love to hear about your goals. How will you keep on track? Meanwhile, I’ll keep you informed about this project.
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