I’m a very goal-oriented person. I always have something I’m working towards, usually more than one thing. And I’m not known for setting small, reasonable goals, either. I tend to go big.
But one thing I’m really bad at (but have only recently realized) is recognizing when I’ve achieved a goal, especially a smaller one. I’m so used to having my eye on a distant prize that I speed right past rest stops and finish lines alike without even noticing.
For instance, I’ve been very focused of late on making this whole self-employed lifestyle work. I have lots of things I want to accomplish and I know I have to be able to support myself without being traditionally employed or I won’t have the available time and flexibility to work on those things. But I’ve been so focused on the image in my head of the ideal end goal, the way life would look when my projects and creations and talents produce the necessary income, that I didn’t realize I’m already successfully living without a regular job. I’ve stressed myself out over details, over how to get from where I am right now to my ideal life, living like if I didn’t make more money right this moment I’d have to get a job soon…. only to realize the other day that I’m already there. I don’t need to get a job. I’m stable.
It’s the danger of being so goal-oriented. Those of us who focus intently on distant destinations, who dream of making huge personal changes and transforming our worlds, can easily forget that each step along the way is also important and worthy of recognition and celebration. If we don’t break the journey up into smaller pieces, the path can start to seem impossibly long.
And it’s especially important for us to stop along the way. Patience and persistence are invaluable, but there’s no guarantee we’ll make it to distant destinations. There’s no guarantee that we’ll be happy when we get there. We shouldn’t waste the opportunity to enjoy the destinations along the way, to be happy where we’re at when we reach a resting point, because saving your joy for the future is a waste.