Practical goal-setting—get out your dominoes!
I recently wrote about choices and recognizing how much of our lives are under our control. The acknowledgment of this power is awesome and inspiring. It allows us to overcome obstacles, arise to new challenges, embrace changes, renew relationships, and quit the Blame Game.
In a similar way, I’d like to talk about choices in terms of our hopes, dreams, and goals. Buddha said, “it is better to travel well, than to arrive.” Becoming journey-oriented, rather than outcome-oriented is essential to creating our own positive reality in a mindfully spiritual way. I propose a “domino” theory of goal-setting and urge you to give up on the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Yes, you can still believe in the tooth fairy…
The Rainbow: Since an early age, we have been misguided to believe that there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow (my apologies if I’ve just dashed your hopes). While this rainbow/pot of gold fantasy sounds like it would be a positive influence, in reality it hurts our chances of success and is fraught with the probability of disappointment. This “pot of gold” is elusive and something that we must search for like our “happy place”. Neither the pot, nor the gold is part of the rainbow and there is not even a path to the pot of gold. While the pot of goal may be our goal, the journey is never defined or clear to us. We don’t actually go along the rainbow to find the pot of gold, because that would be impractical and unnecessary. All we need to do is show up somehow to the place where the rainbow meets the ground. The fact that this is impossible makes goal-achievement unrealistic. This type of thinking is responsible for mindlessness. We become product- and outcome-oriented. Our happiness depends on locating the pot and the hope that it is indeed filled with the type of gold that we will bring us health and happiness.
Dominoes: Let me propose something new. We each have many goals, hopes, dreams and aspirations in life. Each of these is represented by a domino. The journey to each goal is represented by a path of dominoes all set up in close proximity to each other. The final domino is what we would typically think of as our end goal. “To be a writer”, “to be a doctor”, “to graduate from college”, “to buy a new Mercedes”, “to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro”, “to be a good father”, etc. It is our responsibility to identify what journey we should travel along to achieve this goal – what dominoes need to be set up along the way. Once we establish a domino path, we must now acknowledge that each of these dominoes is not a problem, an obstacle or even a challenge. They are additional goals. They are things that we want to accomplish along the way to our final goal. All of the dominoes look alike because they are all goals. The last goal isn’t any bigger or better than the other goals along the way. The dominoes are intimately interconnected and each time a domino is knocked over, we have learned, grown, developed, and improved in some tangible way. If, during our travels, we are derailed, unable to knock down a domino, or consciously decide that our goal has changed, the journey was not a waste of time.