Why I hate the question ‘What’s your goal?’

Well, hate is probably too strong a word. But the goal question really bugs me. I have my excuses, for example: I’m great at starting things off, not too great at finishing them; I’m great at moving my own goalposts so things could go on forever (if I had the stamina) or (more likely) just get abandoned; I’m impatient; I like the thrill of new things and I get a bad attack of the gremlins when things are a couple of months old.

There are other reasons why goals and I don’t get on. I don’t like football and I especially don’t like how football commentators scream goooooal when somebody scores. It elongates a word I don’t like very much and it makes a lot of noise.

What’s more, it occurs to me that whenever we set ourselves a goal we’re focussing hard on something that is outside us. Something far in the future or in a completely different physical place from where we are right now. It feels disconnected from us, and it takes a lot of energy and resources to keep it in focus and move towards it consistently. Beware, should you finally reach it, that it isn’t a mirage.

So here’s my problem. Goals tend to shift us out of Now, the present moment, the only place we can live. Instead they thrust us into anxiety and stress about what might or might not be. We become rigid and unyielding, telling ourselves we’re making sacrifices when really we’re missing opportunities. Whether or not we achieve our goals has become for many a much more important question than how we are living our life.

‘Surely nothing would get done if noone had a goal?’ I hear you say. It’s a valid point. But let’s stop claiming goals willy-nilly without properly understanding how committed we are to achieve them, or whether we truly intend to achieve them.

I’m no saint. I’ve got as much anxiety and stress as the next person and I’m constantly reflecting on how to live with greater ease. It’s just that I’m beginning to understand what’s helpful and what’s not.

And goals without an appreciation of real intentions and commitment ain’t.

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