Look Past the Moon. The Dangers of Having Goals.

I have been in the revenge business so long; now that it’s over I do not know what to do with the rest of my life.
Inigo Montoya
So many stories are told of the single mindedness of Vengeance; movies where the action hero how must avenge something, anything, and that becomes his all-consuming goal. And the movie conveniently ends in the same right when he achieves his goal, as he kills the main bad guy, topples the evil corporation, frees the slaves, and “wins the damsel.” (Not going to comment on the “wins the damsel.” There is enough material in that aspect to make an independent post on the subject.) Cut to him riding into the sunset, queue credits.

This is the guys version of “happily ever after.” And just like “happily ever after,” it’s a load of cr…., an absolute LIE!

These stories focus on a specific time-frame, where what happens before or after have little if no consequence to the story. The reality is there IS an ever after, the repercussions of the grand victory, a constant continuation of the story. And when your focus your life on achieving a rather specific goal, no matter what it is, you risk three very real dangers.

The first danger of having an all-consuming goal is nothing you do will be viewed as valuable. Unless the final goal is reached, everything else is irrelevant, no matter how much good, or how well you do. Nothing will satisfy you. You will never be able to view how much you have traveled, as you focus on how much further you must go. And if you never get to achieve it, you will view your life as wasted.

The second danger is actually being able to achieve your goal. There is a dreaded sense of emptiness that comes from not having a target goal after you have spent part of your life with an all-consuming goal. What then? Look for the next challenge?

The third danger is usually the one least considered, and actually the most dangerous of all. When all your focus is placed on a pinpoint aspect, you will miss everything else around you. And that is where the value of life is really located, in the surprise, in finding the amazing in the random.

So, should you just float aimlessly though life? No. Have a north to guide you, and learn to navigate within this north. Set a goal, but not as a target. Bruce Lee said that “a goal is not always meant to be reached; it often serves simply as something to aim at.” Set a goal as a general direction, and learn to read the winds. Let life guide you within that direction. You will reach the stars if you don’t limit yourself to the moon.