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OTHER ITA SITES:
How I Activated My Goal-Seeking Mechanism
For many years I struggled with a feeling that something was seriously missing in my life. But for the life of me, I couldn't figure out why. I grew up the oldest of three siblings; the daughter of immigrants. To say they expected a lot from me was an understatement. They always instilled a sense that I could be anything that I wanted: a doctor, lawyer, astronaut or president. And they expected it. I had completed all of the pre-requisites that everyone said needed to be accomplished in order for me to be happy and successful. I graduated near the top of my high school class and headed off to college. After graduation, I returned home, started a family and was employed in a relatively good job. But I was miserable. I hopped from one job to another, not sure why I couldn't find the career success and motivation I was looking for.
For some reason I didn't have the confidence to go after what I wanted. And even worse, most of the time, I wasn't even sure what I wanted. I knew I wanted to be happy and successful. I wanted to feel a sense of accomplishment and that what I did made a difference; not just in my life, but in the lives of those I came into contact with. But I always felt aimless. I knew that I wanted these things, but never felt sure how to get them. Something always held me back. I would think of things I wanted to do or goals I wanted to accomplish and then quickly dismiss them as too hard. A negative voice in the back of my head was always saying, you can't do that! That will take too long! What will people say? What if you mess up?
It wasn't until very recently that I realized I was lacking a sense of direction and was missing the key ingredient, which was goal-setting. It wasn't as if I didn't have any goals in life. After all, I was a college graduate and a professional. But after a lot of self-reflection and reading; searching and studying, it became clear that I had never really sat down and mapped out exactly what I wanted from life. I had never written down my goals and dreams. And I had never developed any action plans or deadlines for the things that I desired. This applied to everything; for goals as small as losing weight or as big as becoming a millionaire. I had never taken the time to ask myself what I really wanted and figured out how to get there.
Why? Looking back, I think the primary reason was fear. Writing down a goal made it too real. The idea of writing down a goal and not being able to complete it, paralyzed me. I was deathly afraid of failure. It was so much easier to live in mediocrity, plodding along at my job every day and settling for whatever life gave me. That was more comfortable and less risky than reaching out and grabbing everything I wanted and putting no limitations on my ability. But in turn I felt frustrated, as though I was looking for something. And each new job brought more disappointment.
What I see now, is that happiness wasn't in a new job, new car, or change of environment. It was inside me all along. I just had to look for it! The first thing I had to do was learn to dream big and set goals. I had to stop living a mediocre life and start going after the things that I wanted. That began with writing down all of my goals and setting dates by which I wanted to accomplish them. Just the act of writing a goal makes you feel different. You feel full of possibility and life. And not just any goal either. The biggest and most fantastic goals imaginable: traveling the world, opening a business, retiring at 40. Life is only so long. Why not make the most of it while we are here and grab all that it has to offer?
I also started thinking differently about goals and changing my whole perspective on what they truly mean. A goal is something you are striving for. But guess what? It's not the end of the world if you don't accomplish it! Of course you go for what you want. You truly believe that you can have anything you desire and you act accordingly. But even if you don't get it, just the change that you experience from pushing and striving toward it will make you a totally different person. It's the journey that makes you, not just the final destination.
Human beings are naturally goal-seeking in nature and design. We need to be challenged. We need something to reach for every day. That explains why you see many retirees pass away shortly after they stop working. They lose a sense of purpose and the will to live. This is sad, but very true. Living day to day with no goals and dreams isn't living. It's just surviving. And I made a decision that I want to do more than just survive. I want to soar as high as I can!
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