11 April 2015 Goals


One of the favourite mantras of the coach is ‘Set Your Goals’. This is very understandable, for without goals how do we know where we are going, much less how to get there?
Some distinguish between end goals and performance goals. They point out that end goals are not always within our control, whereas performance goals are much more controllable by us. We can take responsibility for a performance goal, but not for an end goal. For example, I can more or less guarantee to produce an essay on time if I have to, but I cannot guarantee to get the best ever marks for it.
Others make a distinction between performance goals (which can be measured objectively), learning goals (outcomes might be external or internal to a person) and fulfilment goals (measured by a sense of fulfilment.).
But isn’t there a general problem about goals? I have no quarrel with short-term goals, like writing a letter or picking up the dry cleaning or buying a magazine. Of course we all have those, and rightly so. But long-term goals are different.
The song says – “If you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true?” But if your dream is to become a doctor, what happens when you do become a doctor? If your dream is to circumnavigate the world, what do you do for an encore? If your dream is to climb Everest, and you get to the top, and admire the view, and take a photograph or a film, and ignore the debris of all the previous climbers, what next?
In therapy, people often talk of self-actualisation, or individuation, or the fully functioning person, or the genital character, or a clear, as goals. But what do you do when you become self-actualised, when you become individuated, when you become a fully functioning person, when you achieve a genital character, when you become a clear? If these are achievable goals, they must sometimes be achieved. Once you have had your dream come true, what now?
Even more deeply, what about what is sometimes thought of as the ultimate goal — the goal of enlightenment? Is this something we could or should aim at? Nobody ever seems to claim to have reached it. Some say that at the point of enlightenment, there is no person to be enlightened. Isn’t that a strange sort of a goal?
Perhaps we can do without these big important impressive final goals, after all?

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