Why am I here? Where am I heading? What am I to do?
Our sense of purpose is further shaped by the culture of our social group as we grow older. People with different cultural identities have varying sense of purpose, and these may be reassessed, over time, according to our experience.
Society is driven by purpose and it dictates the purpose to the individual in order to maintain social cohesion. When trust in society begins to erode, individuals begin to question their purpose.
Our goals are a reflection of our sense of purpose, and consciously moving toward a goal reinforces this purpose. A human with a goal feels that they have a purpose, a reason for being.
Let’s consider how we go about choosing a goal. A goal is a future outcome, created in the present, based on past experience. The objective is decided on, through an assessment made, based on reflection.
We decide to bring this knowledge into our experience, because we have a desire to know. It’s important to understand the difference between ‘knowledge’ and ‘knowing’. Our knowledge is a second hand account, information we’ve gathered from various sources, while knowing comes from experience.
Goals arise from discontent. We make a decision to move toward a goal because we’re unsettled in our present state.
Setting a goal and moving toward it means that our vision must be future oriented. We necessarily have to remain unsatisfied with the present moment in order to maintain the desire to move toward a goal. This becomes habitual over time.
Those of us who set goals are familiar with the feeling of achieving an objective and remaining unsatisfied. We’ve developed a habit pattern of being destination driven. When the destination is achieved, the habit pattern remains, and so does the feeling of being unsatisfied.
This might appear to be an unorthodox view of goals and goal setting, especially for a Performance Coach. Why not continue down the path of setting goals guided by SMART criteria?
An individual who sets goals tends to calculate their self-worth by their progress toward, or achievement of, the objective. If the objective isn’t achieved within the expected time frame, or not achieved at all, this has a negative impact on self-esteem and sense of purpose. Evaluating our self by these criteria is also detrimental to maintaining momentum, which in turn has a negative impact on achieving the goal.
The answer may be to reconsider our sense of purpose, and shift our mindset from one which is goal defined, to one which is direction driven. Choosing a direction for our life instead of fixating on a destination, and being open to course correction when necessary. Moving in a chosen direction is completely within our control, in every moment of our experience.
This autonomy of purpose has a positive impact on self-esteem, and translates to increased momentum. We remain present and conscious of our direction, and appreciate the experience as it unfolds. We can also change direction at any moment depending on what feels right, and are no longer bound to an objective created in the past.
The real excitement is in the experience of moving in your chosen direction. Encountering unexpected challenges and responding to them. A fulfilling life is one in which you are following the direction you've chosen, and at any moment you are open to changing direction, as it suits you. There is no thought of success or failure because at any moment you are going in your chosen direction.
Judging your self by your achievements is counter productive to your growth and personal development. There will always be something more to achieve, and so you remain on the wheel and unsettled.
Choose direction over destination. This is a concept which works for anyone, irrespective of cultural background, socio-economic class or identity. The objectives society had humanity working toward, in order to maintain social cohesion, are fast becoming irrelevant. People are increasingly reconsidering their sense of purpose as we move into an exciting and uncertain future. Maintain your momentum by confidently following your direction, and be less fixated on a goal.