Are you a goal setter? Do you find that you are immediately onto the next big thing the moment you accomplish a goal? Or do you actually have a sense of accomplishment and pride followed by a sense of calm when all of your efforts finally pay off?
I have had a goal list since I was a young child. I always wanted to do the next big thing, to succeed in something new, and I was constantly chasing a sense of accomplishment. My goals were various— from reading certain books to becoming first chair as a flutist to writing an award-winning essay. I would pour everything I had into accomplishing a goal, and then I would succeed in reaching that goal (9/10, because I can’t forget not making the cheerleading squad when I was 14). Doing and experiencing everything was the goal, and everything was on the list.
Now that I am older, my goal list is still very prevalent. It remains in my iPhone and it is constantly updating; however, it is no longer filled with small goals like getting Jake Johnson to notice me. Now, the goals are big…bigger than eight year old me had ever imagined. If I look back at my goal list over the years, I see a list of successes and experiences that lay out behind me like a road map of a very crazy and cool life. I have been to war, I have cliff jumped into waves filled with sea turtles, I have jumped out of airplanes, I have climbed mountains, I have had a child, I have coached and I have learned, and I can make a mean apple pie.
In the past year, I have had to take a very hard look at my list…because it is shrinking. I am running out of things that I want to accomplish. I’m not even 30 and I feel like I am without a next big thing. This month alone I have accomplished a ten year goal within my career field by earning a high-level certification, and once I reached that goal, I felt a sucking vacuum of purpose and direction instead of immense pride.
At the cost of sounding pretentious, new experiences are harder and harder for me to come by, and it is hard to have conversations with people without me maintaining a constant stream of “been there, done that”. I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging, so I try to brush off what I’ve done and seen…when what it feels like is that I have been running a race only to look around and realize I was the only participant.
For me, success was just a check in the box before I was immediately looking for the next thing. So what happens when you get everything you want and have worked for? What happens when you run out of goals? What happens when a goal-oriented person looks around and realizes that the wins will have to be very big from now on? What happens when someone whose life purpose was centered around a list sees that the list is complete? Instead of life being a stair-stepper grind, do you learn how to enjoy your accomplishments? Do you learn how to dream bigger? Or do you learn how to dream differently?