Because your life still loves you! Are you the kind of person who sets and achieves goals, yet feels like you have no personality or identity of our own? Or, do you feel like your life is not leading anywhere? Or, perhaps you set out on a goal and then you feel like you have no desire or passion for anything? These are the most common situations one would find themselves in when they seem to have the worst luck when it comes to their goals in life. As a simplest of definitions, a goal is something that you aim for. It is a dream, a desire or a vision that you create for yourself. But, the number 1 reason why most people feel that way even after setting goals is because they set their goals based on what their society and their culture tells them to do. We all live within an ecosystem that is defined by our upbringing, our peers, our beliefs, our society and our cultural subjective realities – an ecosystem known as our culturescape. Vishen Lakhiani, founder of MindValley, talks about this culturescape in this video, which by design is meant to keep us safe. This culturescape, however, imposes a very narrow and middle-of-the-road view of how we should be living our lives. When we set goals based on our culturescape and our social conditioning, we restrict ourselves to its modalities and rules, the ones that limit us from becoming the person we can truly become. Most of us spend our days living up to expectations and definitions laid down by our culturescape and define goals to fit into them. We restrict our imagination to the subjective truths of our culturescape. Our typical goals then include: getting good grades in school, getting into a good college and university, getting a professional degree by the age of 25, getting a job in a well-known organization, getting a handsome salary, getting promoted, getting a house, paying off mortgages, getting married before 30, taking personal loans, having kids, saving money, repeating the cycle for our kids, retirement, and then hopefully living peacefully. It is, of course, human nature to want to be liked and respected. But, in our efforts to be accepted and to fit in, we set goals that are self-deprecating and not worthy of ourselves. We end up manipulating and masking our deeper desires in an effort to avoid judgement, discomfort or rejection. The result being that we end up feeling not having an identity of our own.
We all have two lives, and the second one begins when we realize that we only have one.
Once you understand the gravity of this Confucius quote, you realize the fact that you owe it to yourself to get the most out of your life. Once you understand how your culturescape limits and restricts you, you begin questioning its once accepted rules. Yet, the real question remains in answering how wide is the gap between your truth, the things you feel and say to yourself behind your social masks, and the person you show to the world? The worst thing that you can do is to look back in 30 or 40 or 50 years time and say “I wish I had done this” or “I wish I had done that”. I quit my steady career in IT and all goals associated with it because I realized that they were not inspired and imagined within me, but because of my upbringing and social conditioning. Today, I am setting goals for myself, which are way beyond my comfort zone – something I wouldn’t have even dreamt about a few years ago. Today, I am having the patience and persistence to get to them. I know that everything will happen at my own pace and by my own clock. I don’t have to look at my culturescape for any validation.
Setting Truth Goals
Set goals based on your truth and not on the perception of what your culturescape demands from you. Trust me this is not going to be easy. Questioning the “shoulds” of the culturescape and the gap with your truth is going to be challenging. Increasing your level of self-awareness and peeling off the layers of filters and stories about who you are that you’ve built up over the years will take its time. The Zeigarnik Effect can come to your rescue. The Zeigarnik Effect is the tendency to experience curious thoughts about an objective that was once pursued and left incomplete. What it means in simple words is to begin somewhere – just starting something increases the odds of finishing it.
Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.
~ Steve Jobs
Where Do I Start
There’s no magic pill to work through the process of identifying and setting your truth goals. Sit with a journal and pen down your thoughts over the following questions. Use them as your starting point. This will begin the process. There is no rush. Treat yourself with compassion as you progress through these questions. If you cannot think of an answer to a particular question, come back to it later.
- When you were a child, what did you want to be “When you grew up?”
- When are or were you at your most happiest in life? What are or were you doing at that time?
- What are your greatest strengths? What could you do in life to maximize your strengths?
- What results are you currently having in your life which you are pleased with?
- What results are you currently having in your life which you are not pleased with?
- If you could have your time over again, what would you have done so far?
- What limiting beliefs do you have about yourself?
- What do you value the most in your life?
- If you could pass on a piece of wisdom to the whole world that you have learned in your life to date, what would it be?
- What do you really want to get out of life? What does your heart secretly long for?
- What is it that you want to experience from your life? What is it that you want to contribute in your life?
- Pretend for a moment that you have passed away. Think about your achievements, your life’s work and what you have done for others in your lifetime. What will you be remembered for in your obituary?
As you progress through these questions, you will slowly start uncovering your truth. When you are firmly anchored in this truth you have a compass for decision making and setting goals based only on your truth. And when you set your truth goals, they will become a barometer of how well you are doing in your life.