Monday, August 22, 2005

Are my Goals Worth the Effort?

The most important thing about goals is having one. --Geoffrey F. Abert


What should I do? How should I spend my time?

I've been thinking a lot about goals lately, having discovered Steve Pavlina's website and then voo2do.com, a free online task manager, yesterday. I'm convinced that setting proper goals and working towards them (without becoming too rigid) is the best way to get things done. However, I have a hard time picking goals.

Except for losing weight, my goals seem too small to be worth pursuing. I have a pretty good job, a great relationship, and a good financial position. Having a better job, an even greater relationship, or becoming wealthy don't inspire me enough to get off my ass. Steve Pavlina (I swear I'm not joining a cult) wrote an article about this called How to Get From a 7 to a 10. He claims that,

There is no 7.

What you’ll find when you leave the comfort of your 7 and go chasing after that 10 is that your 7 was never a 7. It was only a 3.

If you think you’re at a 7, you’re really at a 3 maximum. The 10 is way, way out there. You think you can see it, but your definition of a 10 is based on your experience of a 7, and you can’t even see a real 10 when you’re standing at 7. It’s beyond your ability to fathom.


It's interesting. Maybe I'm selling myself short, and I have no idea how great my job, my relationship, or my wealth* could be. From where I stand, it often seems like it's not worth the effort it would take to go from a 7 to a 10, but maybe I'd feel differently if I were there. I guess the thing to do is to run an experiment: put in the effort to raise one 7 towards a 10 and decide afterwards whether it was worth it. Or maybe the lesson is to never become content in any area of my life -- there's always not only room for improvement, but limitless room for improvement.

When I graduated college and became a professional and an "adult" at the same time, I realized the scary fact that everybody learns at that stage of life, which is that adults are just people like us. Older and more experienced, yes, but fundamentaly made of the same stuff as me. My parents, my professors, firemen who run into burning buildings -- they're all just people, and the only difference between them and me is that they'd followed a certain path which I hadn't (yet) gone down. Similarly, maybe the difference between those super-successful people everybody marvels at and the rest of us is that the super-successful don't settle for 7.






* I'm not really comfortable with the idea of being very wealthy. Compared to the third world everybody in America is fabulously wealthy, and I'd feel selfish hoarding a bunch of money. However, I could define wealth as freedom, either financial freedom or freedom to travel or the freedom to be a philanthropist. We'll see.

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