Your Goals Don't Have to be OK with Anyone Else
Most people believe that there is a disconnect between what is truly important in life and what we think we need to be happy. In many respects, I don't disagree. After all, what words do you use to console yourself when something doesn't go as planned? "It's okay," you think, "I have my health, my family, my friends, and my freedoms." Millions of people in the world don't have these things, so you're lucky. You have what really matters, after all. In a nutshell, yes, you do. Most middle class Americans are the 1% of the 1% of wealth in this world. We are living the dream by modern day standards, and yet, we still seek more. Millennials, especially, are shamed for being too zealous, too entitled, and often, rightfully so. However, I believe that we walk a fine line when it comes to deflecting big dreams, ones that may seem "above and beyond" what we need.
When you or someone else tells you to focus on what truly matters, it is a reminder to be grateful and count your blessings. Yet, it often comes across as a reprimand for being too greedy or wanting more than you deserve. In reality, every blessing we have is far more than we deserve, and I do believe we need to cultivate more awareness of this principle. However, we must not let the need for gratitude in our culture snuff out the importance of being goal-oriented.
It isn't a commonly known fact, but lululemon's company culture is highly centered around personal development and leadership. They focus on people, give their employees the tools to grow, and encourage vulnerability. Relationships and goal setting are the core component to their company culture. Recently, my studio began selling lululemon, and my team and I had the opportunity to engage in a goal-setting session provided by the employees of our local lululemon store. As one of their strategic sales partners in Colorado Springs, we were given the gift of personal development that lululemon provides to its employees.
As a Leadership & Organizational Development major in college and an avid goal setter by nature, this opportunity should have been something that thrilled me. However, setting goals during the last year of my life has been a challenge unlike any other. I've always been comfortable with articulating my goals, ones that, by most timelines, aren't achieved right out of college. Yet, in 2014, I hit all of the goals that I had previously set. What should have been a celebratory achievement has left me feeling out of sorts for quite some time. In a season of life where I'm grappling to establish new goals, I have found myself shying away from determining what I really want to chase after.
As my team and I sat cross-legged on my studio floor, we were asked a series of questions. We closed our eyes, grabbed pencils to make the inevitable eraser smudges and physical paper to chart our thoughts. Where do you picture yourself in five years/ten years? Where will you live, what do you want to be? Who is this "future" you? I jotted down everything that came to mind and sat back to look at my results, and I found a startling truth. Too many things didn't align with what I'm doing right now.
This is why goals frighten us. There isn't always a clear line between where we are and where we want to be. We want the path to success to be a straight line when it's typically a scribble. The next step in our goal setting exercise dealt with breaking down our big picture goals into realistic and actionable steps. These steps needed to be simple, ones we could practice day by day to move us towards the big picture. By breaking down the big goals, they became more real, more attainable.
As I broke down my own goals, I began to see something that I haven't realized in my previous goal-setting experiences. My goals do not have to be okay with anyone else but me. We are often pressured into setting what I call "socially acceptable" goals that have an easy 5 year plan. We feel the need to explain our goals to someone when they ask, justifying why our plan fits into what we should want. Often, these socially acceptable goals are centered around the things that are what I referred to earlier as the "most important" things in life: family, friends, safety.
"I want kids, I want to get married, I want to build my dream home." These are all great goals, but I will strongly argue that they should not be our only goals. Our goals, big and small, should be centered around using our unique talents to achieve our unique purpose(s). They should cause us to think deeper, reach farther, and push the limits of social norms. Even for the most common goals, we need to go deeper.
If your ultimate goal is to be the most amazing wife and mother you can be, what are the actionable, daily steps you can take to get there? Don't assume that you've hit your goal just because you are married with kids. If your goal is to start a business of your own or an orphanage in a third world country, what does than path look like? You cannot simply go from where you are to where you want to be by pushing the scary goals off to the side. Yes, be grateful for the things you have already been given, but don't let feelings of inadequacy cripple you from taking a leap into something that might seem impossible from where you are today.
We were never designed to operate without a vision. Great companies (like lululemon), leaders, and families practice designing and casting a vision that will guide the path from where they are to where they want to be. A valuable part of any vision should be taking stock of and being grateful for the blessings in your life, but it should also be full of action, risk, and pushing beyond what is comfortable. Your goals don't have to be justifiable to the outside world or completely clear, but they do need to be intrinsically yours. They need to be full of hustle and rooted in the calling that has been placed on your heart.
Don't let the fear of crossing the ocean keep you from charting the course.