"There are no second acts in American lives." ( F. Scott Fitzgerald )
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Should you always achieve your goal ? - Part II

By Tessa Ivascu | Section(s): GET... | Add Your comment


In Part I, we dealt with two of the three questions you need to ask yourself whenever you feel unwilling to take action to achieve a goal : 1. Is my goal consistent with my values ? 2. What are my feelings when I try to complete it ? The next step consists in finding the answer to the question : Will my accomplished goal change my life ? This quick and simple method will show you how to find the answer and what to make of it.

Hypothesis #1 «What will happen in my life if I do not achieve this goal
Write down the benefits and the costs to your life if you do not achieve this particular goal.
Try to think of all the important aspects of your life. You can make a list or draw a chart, like the one below. I included only four aspects, because my chart is just an example of how you may want to draw one for your use. Whatever shape and words you choose for it, your list or your chart should include some of these aspects :

  • family and household
  • money and career
  • health and personal growth
  • recreation and community
Hypothesis #2 «What will happen in my life if I achieve this goal
Write down the benefits and the costs to your life if you achieve this particular goal.
Make an identical list or chart, including the same aspects as in the first one. In both cases, try to write down the benefits and costs as fast as you can while remaining legible and focused on your task.

Do not :

  • pause to reread what you’ve just written
  • try to refine your first thoughts
  • self-censor your expression
Above all, DO NOT JUDGE. The aim is to be as honest and spontaneous as possible. Do not welcome or reject any thought or image because it is too optimistic or pessimistic, or because it is too «shameful» . If you think that one benefit of achieving your goal is to be more successful than your husband, or to humble down your sister, write it down. If you don’t see any benefit or cost in some of the listed life aspects, write «none».

Click to enlarge

Review your two hypotheses and underline the benefits and costs which would bring a notable, long-lasting, change in your life ; which would mean «good news» or «bad news» not only for you but for other people.

If the benefits of achieving the goal outnumber the benefits of giving it up; if the costs of giving up the goal outnumber the costs of achieving it, you know what you have to do : make a plan, a timetable, get rid of excuses and start working.

If the difference between the two hypotheses is negligible, it does not mean that you should give up your goal. It means that the accomplishment of this particular goal is not a priority. Perhaps the goal you set is not really a goal, only a part of a broader design, like a river flowing into a larger one. Perhaps you don’t know there is a larger river.

The method above helps you to discover the major goal, the one you really want to reach, behind the apparent goal. Consequently, the «minor» goal becomes no more than a step, that you can choose either to accomplish or to skip, on the road leading to your «major» goal.

Whatever the answer, now you can take action without questioning whether you do «the right thing». In practice, you will be able to allocate the proper block of time to the completion of the tasks related to your goals. If you know your motivations, discipline will come naturally.
(Back to Part I).

Share your experience :
- Did you ever achieve a goal only to find that it meant nothing to you ?
- Can skipping a goal prove to be the good decision ?
- Do you think in terms of "benefits" and "costs" before taking action ?

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