There are many reasons why people pursue a goal.
To challenge themselves.
To see what’s possible.
To offer something to others
…..the list goes on.
But of all the reasons I hear from clients, there is one that waves a red flag every time it’s spoken: to find happiness or contentment.
You may wonder, “What’s wrong with that? Don’t we all want to be happy?” Of course. And yet… chasing happiness never works. Because generally speaking, life is made up of 50/50 positive and negative emotions. Certainly they’re not equally weighted, but we do experience a fair mixture of both in constant rotation. “There” will not be better than “here”. Take, for example, someone who sets out to lose weight, imagining that her life will be insta-amazing when she hits her goal. She pictures walking confidently, feeling proud as friends compliment her. While these things may happen, what she fails to imagine is the “mean girl glances” and judgement she’ll get from others. Negative comments from women who choose not to make healthy choices, and who gossip about her, leaving her feeling hurt. Reaching our goals will bring some happiness, but it will also bring a different set of problems and emotions with it as well. This leaves us constantly setting our sights on the “next” thing that we think will provide all-things-good, so will instead leave us disappointed and unfulfilled.
Please know that I’m not saying pursuing your goals is a bad thing or a waste of time. I’m always pursuing several goals simultaneously. I enjoy it and do feel happiness while pursuing goals, but that’s not the purpose of it. I’m content now, and know I will be content when I’ve achieved the goal, and all along the journey. AND I know that the path will also include its fair share of negative emotion too. There will be times I’ll feel like giving up, and days I’ll feel frustrated, overwhelmed, and confused. But I know that’s just part of the process.
Few things worth accomplishing are easily done without negative emotion.
At a work shop this week, I helped a group of women set goals and then map out their journey from where they are now, to the fulfillment of a dream. They made a drawing of their “current self” and their “future self” with all the stepping stones (objectives) they’ll need to take to get there. They laughed and groaned when I labeled the gap in between their current and future reality as “the River of Misery.” They groaned because it sounds awful, and laughed because they knew it was a good description of what’s ahead!
Last week I shared that I ended my office lease and moved all of my furniture back home to my home office. I had reached the goal of increasing my number of clients and moving to all on-line coaching and counseling sessions. It was a goal I had set long ago. I feel proud of the accomplishment. I feel grateful for the business growth that made it possible. And I also felt a sense of sadness as I turned off the light and shut the door for the last time. The road to get here included excitement, disappointment, fear and so much more. And it was worth every ounce of emotion.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t add that we were all created with an internal desire for contentment and joy. These are not wrong, bad, or sinful. They were created in us by the Creator Himself. But of all the things this world offers and tries to sell us on as ways to fulfill these needs, Jesus is the only thing that offers a permanent joy that’s not contingent on our circumstances, pursuits or accomplishments. When we put Him at the center of our lives and being, our pursuits and goals naturally align with His heart.
If you’ve got a dream you’ve been focused on, take a minute to pause and consider your purpose for pursuing it. How do you imagine you’ll feel when accomplish it? What will be different and what will be the same? What may you feel when you accomplish the goal that you can also choose to feel now-ahead of time? Once you’re clear on your “why”, and certain that you’re not just chasing happiness, then full steam ahead! I’m cheering you on.
With Grit & Grace
Want help catching that dream?
If you’ve got a big dream or goal and need some help achieving it, I’d love to help. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation call with me and I’ll help you step into the life you were created for.