What are your goals?
People ask that a lot, especially in personal development.
I’m going to point something out you might not realize.
People usually talk about goals as external — to get a promotion, to earn a certain amount of money, to marry a spouse with certain properties… stuff like that.
People who take my seminar see what I put as the farthest stage I see myself reaching is freedom. I mention others may have other farthest stages, but whatever your farthest stage, I suspect freedom is somewhere up there. We like when others are free and unconstrained with us, so we know others like when we are free and unconstrained with them.
When I say freedom, I don’t mean being outside of jail or living in a society that values and practices liberty and freedom. I mean freedom like Victor Frankl described in Man’s Search for Meaning
We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
When we are no longer able to change a situation – just think of an incurable disease such as inoperable cancer – we are challenged to change ourselves.
Obviously living in Auschwitz means he had severely limited external freedom. But he learned about an internal freedom that he could use to improve his life even under the most challenging situations.
Freedom lets you do what you want, which means living the life you want. It doesn’t mean you have no responsibilities. On the contrary, you take on many responsibilities because you care. You still experience pain and troubles, but the pain and troubles you choose to take on because you know what you’ll get out of them. But you don’t suffer.
I suggest to you that this type of freedom improves your life more than achieving any external goal.
What I wanted to point out is the discrepancy between where people put most of their efforts — achieving external goals — and where they get the most value — achieving internal freedom.
Achieving freedom doesn’t have externally measurable goals like running a marathon does. You can still tell when you develop it.
I’ll write more about it tomorrow.
Read my weekly newsletter
On initiative, leadership, the environment, and burpees