If you’re anything like me, then each year you sit down to review how you performed against your goals for the year, whilst also setting goals for the new year.
Typically, I’ve categorized my goals into the different dimensions of life — business, finance, health, craft, relationships, learning, and so on. This would extend to tangible and measurable micro-goals like ‘get 5 articles published by Harvard Business Review’ and ‘meditate for 10 minutes a day’ sitting alongside more confronting and perhaps less straight-forward life goals like ‘get your romantic relationship shit together’.
Come to the end of this exercise, my pages are full of both large and small pursuits, sometimes numbering more than 100 goals for the year.
Aside from the conditions for goal overwhelm that this creates, the exercise can leave me focusing a little too much on the micro-goals. Oftentimes in life though, if we truly reflect on it, there are probably two or three things we could do that would have a disproportionate impact on our lives and our subjective wellbeing.
It might be a scary goal and one that we can only exercise so much control over — unlike tangible goals like ‘invest 20% of my salary’ — and therefore we shy away from it, but deep down, we know that if we resolve this conflict in our lives it will have flow-on effects on almost everything we do.
Perhaps your romantic relationship is broken.
Perhaps you’re only sleeping five hours a night.
Perhaps it’s time to find a job you actually enjoy so that you’re not spending half your waking hours doing something that doesn’t engage you.
Perhaps you’ve developed a Netflix addiction, and it’s coming at the expense of more fulfilling pursuits.
Whatever the case, rather than focusing on numerous goals in 2021, perhaps it’s time to be honest with yourself and focus on the one meta goal that will transform your life.
In my case, having been an unrelenting go-getter for the better part of the past two decades — first as I climbed the corporate ladder, and second as I climbed the entrepreneurial one — my 2021 meta goal is to fundamentally change the way I see the world.
I’ve done enough soul-searching, reflecting, and reading to come to the conclusion that much of my suffering, anxiety and stress, comes from identifying too closely with my ego and how things purportedly ‘should be’. But as the Buddha put it, desire is the root of all suffering, and by becoming more accepting of ‘what is’ — whether that be external circumstances, people’s character attributes, my own limitations — I am more likely to be at peace and spend more time simply present and enjoying life.
Should I achieve this, it will have flow-on effects on my general demeanor, as well as how I show up in my personal and professional relationships. But it is difficult to shift from a mindset where one is always highlighting ‘what’s wrong with this picture?’ to a more Zen-like worldview of acceptance and conceding that most things happen for some deeper reason that is beyond our abilities to understand at that point in time.
And so, I am going to apply myself to this one and only goal in 2021, and become more in tune with my innate responses to the world around me.
Working towards a meta goal next year? I’d love to know what it is in the comments below!
Steve Glaveski is on a mission to unlock your potential to do your best work and live your best life. He is the founder of innovation accelerator, Collective Campus, author of several books, including Employee to Entrepreneur and Time Rich, and productivity contributor for Harvard Business Review. He’s a chronic autodidact and is into everything from 80s metal and high-intensity workouts to attempting to surf and hold a warrior three pose.