57/100: Goals Vs Serendipity
I have always been told goal setting is a good thing. From the school days, when my teachers at school would ask me what I wanted to be and not knowing the answer was a bad thing. So, you then make up the goals, even when they were wholly unsuitable. These goals tend to become more about people around you than about you. May be there are those perfect people who can start with the end in mind, but they are as unreal as Stepford Wives to me. Most of my life was about stumbling upon things, diverting my journey in pursuit of something interesting, and ending up on wrong shores with right feelings.
I would argue goal setting is a problem, rather than being of any help. Once you assume that you should have a goal, you set about getting one. But at any time, you are constrained by your own experience, or that of your parents', or that of your girlfriend's. If you are able to set a goal and pursue that single-mindedly, that means giving up on imagination and being a slave of the past. If everyone set goals and followed them, the world will remain steady-state, or even go backwards in time. It is good that we make mistakes, and some people are pathologically incapable of setting goals.
Besides, goals, and making life more about the end than about living it, steals the fun of the journey. Days become a slog for something that someone somewhere, mostly politicians and newspaper editors, set for you. So you give up your time of wondering about and take up the challenges of life, not acknowledging that the biggest challenges are about living the life enjoyably. This is why you will possibly give up reading a beautiful book and immerse yourself in office politics, marry the footballer rather than the childhood friend who was interested in you, and squeeze yourself in the morning train rather than lingering a moment on the beauties of a spring morning. This is why you will travel and live thousands of miles apart from those who really loved you. In a way, there is one immutable goal in life, to die and die meaningfully, and this often gets compromised by the goals that we make up along the way.
Finally, the primacy of goals is the reason we have started thinking moral behaviour, whatever that means, is an inconvenience. What's better, to get rich first and be acknowledged as someone important, or to ponder about nitty-gritties and remain poor and inconsequential? You must count to make a difference, I was told - that was an argument against idealism, in fact. So you give up your dilemmas, be single-minded in pursuit of what makes you count, and catch up on moral issues later if you could. Or, if you care to.
So, I am tired of goals, and of being told focus on goals is a good thing. That Attention Deficiency is a disease. The whole self-help industry, and some of its gurus, like Stephen Covey, stands on goal-setting: Begin with the end in mind, remember. I wonder - did he? Or is it serendipity for him as well?