Thursday, January 13, 2011

A goal achieved is a dream destroyed.

Rarely do random quotes catch my attention any more. Most of the quotes I see are one of two types…1. Something someone read but cannot quote or attribute, posted as a status update on facebook and then in a way seeks credit for possession of a brilliant or intuitive mind, and yet they neither thought, created, nor even really fully understand what they are writing or 2. An original creation or appropriately cited quote that is unique and thought provoking. The later is very rare and almost mythical.

I think this one just caught me off guard because not only is it true, but it pins two good things against each other; dreams and goals. I heard it on an Australian runner’s podcast (bhag). When you have a dream and achieve it you are in destroying it, fact. One of the definitions of a dream is something that somebody hopes, longs, or is ambitious for, usually something difficult to attain or far removed from present circumstances. A goal is defined as something that someone wants to achieve. So when the dream driving us is gone and passions are dulled because we no longer have it or have already done it what do you do?

I consider many different things that I do as part of my sense of identity. For example, running seems to now be a big part of who I am; but what if I couldn’t run? Would my sense of self be shattered if I could not do that one thing that I think defines me or at least a part of me? Running has been very satisfying, but I know that I will not be able to do it forever. When that day comes will I cease to be myself? Individuals, who play golf, hike, look in a mirror all day, shop or read…will your sense of self leave you when you can no longer do those things? Will you have enough fuel in the tank to move onto new adventures or will you huddle in a corner and wither away?

An idol is defined as somebody or something greatly admired or loved, often to excess. At some point are we creating idols, yes I said idols, of our activities or actions to the point where these own a disproportionate share of our lives? Have some of our habits risen to the level of idolatry? Back in the day there were idols for everything…are we doing the same thing in our time and calling it…diligence, ambition, intensity, etc.? I think we as a society embraced the extremes not because of their difficulty but I think because of their ease. It is easy to go at a goal with everything you have, that’s what we are socially influenced to do, but the costs? It is easy to dream these huge goals and huge idea but where is the action, where is the work? We have all heard “I am the idea person, they’re the brains” or something similar…but it seems that all we are doing is hiding in our extreme instead of seeking a moderation.

I think the solution to the conundrum is balance. There has to be a dynamic moderation that each person has to figure out for themselves. I say dynamic moderation because this “middle” is not fixed, it moves according to whatever situation arises in life and adjusts accordingly. Note it adjusts; it does not seek to hide in an extreme. The implication of balance in this quote is that achievement, if seen as final handicaps the person (because you can no longer dream) or you become mediocre (because you can no longer achieve). Balance requires more work and dedication than dreaming or achieving the entire time do because it requires a mode of operation where the self is continually updating goals and creating new dreams that they can achieve but that also create a challenge for them. If you only dream what you know you can do, you’re not dreaming; if you set goals you know you can achieve you’re not setting goals. What are you are doing is letting yourself slip into the extreme of meaningless perennial ordinariness instead of a meaningful dynamic moderation.

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