If you read any books or websites about self improvement in general, and success in particular, you will notice one theme, one concept, that appears more often than nearly any other: setting goals. I even recommend it myself, from time to time.
Setting goals can help you to focus your energy and effort, making it far more likely that you will get something accomplished. That, in general, is a good thing… I even set goals for myself (like hitting 1,000 subscribers by May 31, 2008 *hint hint*).
The peril lies in becoming so focused on the goal that you start becoming blind to where you are now, so focused on the destination that lose sight of the opportunities along the way. This is a trap many people fall into, and one that it’s sometimes difficult to recognize even after you fall.
Let me give an example that you have probably seen (or even done) yourself: the person who is always focused on how to make money. Their goal is to have (or make) some amount of money, and they view every situation through this lens… and become so focused on it that they miss opportunities to make new friends, one of whom might even be their ticket to the money which holds their attention.
It’s not too difficult to think about other examples, from the person who is so obsessed with someone that they miss a chance with someone who would have made them happy for the rest of their lives, to the person who is so focused on getting promoted that they forget to look around and see other opportunities, whether at another company or in another field.
That’s why I, personally, recommend choosing a path more than a goal. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t have a goal in mind… again, I have a goal of 1,000 subscribers. Your focus, however, should be on choosing your path… your attention should be on where you are now, and what the next step might be.
Focusing on the path, and choosing your next step, keeps you more aware of your current surroundings, and oppotunities that might arise that either move you toward your original goal faster, or even change your goals… there is no need to stick to your original goal if it’s no longer somewhere you want to be.
Focusing on the path also tends to reduce the amount of stress in your life as you notice the things around you, the things you already have, and the things within your reach, while thinking less about the things that you don’t have. In the picture above, the person focused on the goal would just be worrying about how much further they had to go, where the person focused on the path might stop to take the time to notice the beauty around them… and perhaps meet others who also stop to appreciate it.
Goals are wonderful things to have… as long as they are not set in concrete, and you don’t lose sight of the beauty and wonder of the path you are taking to get to them.
One step at a time down the path, and you won’t get overwhelmed. One step at a time and you give opportunity a chance to catch your attention.
One step at a time, and you are far more likely to be somewhere that you want to be.