Goals help us develop action items to accomplish those goals. However, goals by themselves are not always helpful. For instance, if you set a goal that runs counter to who you are or want to be, that goal isn’t helpful. Therefore, goals should be seen in the greater context of what you want your life to be. We all understand this. However, how do we ensure that our goals fit with who we want to be?
A simple visualization exercise helps. I asked my youth last night to consider what they wanted people to say about them when they died. What did they want written on their tombstone? We’re not talking about what people often say because they don’t want to offend someone who has lost a loved one or what a loved one might want to think because he or she wants the remember the dead in a good light. I asked them to consider what they wanted people to say about them if they told the truth.
By knowing that, you can figure out how you want the story of your life to unfold. This is when your goal planning fits best: after you have given serious thought about how you want to be remembered. You’ll better be able to determine if a particular goal moves you in that direction. If it doesn’t, it’s probably not a goal to pursue. If it does, then embrace it.
I’m not saying the end justifies the means. The journey is important, too. However, just as you’d not head to the grocery store without some idea how to get there, you shouldn’t live life without some kind of idea of where you’re headed. Asking yourself, “What do I want on my tombstone?” helps you define that destination. From there, everything else follows.