Why have Goals?

10533894_532330546892792_7842706521035778230_nIn the past year, I have run across two opposing ideas about goals. One is that goals are pretty pointless, because life just keeps getting in the way. The other is behind the sentiment in the post picture. Goals give us direction and purpose in life, even if we don’t achieve exactly what we originally planned.

A Goal-less Life

It’s hard for me to imagine a life without goals. I’m not sure how I would live even one day. I get up in the morning with plans to accomplish certain tasks. Goals have fueled my quest to run a half-marathon. Goals got me through a messy divorce and helped me earn a master’s degree at the same time.

I suppose I would get up, go to work, buy groceries as I needed them, do enough work around the house to keep it livable, and spend the rest of my time watching TV and surfing the internet. In many ways, it would be a much calmer life than the one I have now, and my frustration level would probably be much lower. If I could be happy and satisfied “just doing my job,” I can see where this is an enticing option.

Purpose and Growth

Even before I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I had a strong desire to learn, grow, and improve. Perhaps it’s just never been my nature to be content unless I can see positive change in my life. I’m prone to perfectionism, which is a major draw-back, but I’ve been able to tone that flaw down as I have matured.

When I joined the LDS church, I found people who believed that God sent us here to learn and to grow. One of the major ways that we humans do that is to set goals. I set a goal to establish a blog, and have been doing so for over two years. It has become an outlet for thoughts that often go spinning through my head. I set a goal to get a master’s degree so that I could earn a livable wage for my family. It took me five years, but I reaped the benefits. I set a goal to run a half marathon, and I am healthier now than when I was in my 30’s.

Yes, life gets in the way. Obstacles pop up. That’s part of the challenge, but it can be fun. Learning to be flexible, learning that things don’t have to go exactly as planned to be wonderful, finding inspiration in a mistake, and all sorts of other lessons are presented as we work around obstacles. I love the idea of stopping, yelling “plot twist!” and moving on when something gets in the way of plans.

Perhaps that’s the difference. The goal is the finish line. It’s where we want to arrive. Plans are how we get there. Plans are what really get interrupted, not the goals!

So, in my humble opinion, I would encourage anyone to set goals, work toward the goals, and enjoy the beauty of the “plot twists” that add challenge and variety along the way.