When we’re talking about the world of work, or even life itself, ends and means often get confused. Things like having a job or buying a house or getting a promotion are seen as the end goals, when in fact, they are strategies.
On the face of it, this doesn’t make sense. Aren’t we supposed to have goals like find a job, get promoted, buy a house, and work diligently towards those goals? How else will I accomplish anything? Although this is how we commonly think of goals, if we focus too much on these milestones, we may achieve them only to realize that this wasn’t what we really wanted.
To understanding my point, let’s look at the big picture. In life, there are certain things that we need for survival. Food, air and water are good examples. Shelter from the elements. We also need community, people we can depend on and who depend on us. Humans are social beings, after all.Then there are the things that we may not need but give us joy. This varies from person to person, but can include intangible things like caring for others or could be working on cars. Hiking, scuba-diving, playing games, reading books, traveling, throwing parties. Having your basic needs met and having lots of activities and relationships that feed your soul are the ultimate goals of life. Getting a job, then, is a strategy to reach those goals. Jobs give you money to pay for food, shelter, things and activities. Some aspects of your job could meet some of your goals, like traveling or helping others, or writing, but you don’t need your job to give you those things directly. Many of my clients focus on having a certain salary, but your income should be one of many strategies to get what you want out of life. A high salary could actually keep you from your goals if you have to work so hard to make money that you don’t have the time or energy to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
First, get clear about what you want and then figure out the most efficient way to get there. And make sure that your goals are actually yours. Society, family, and friends all have ideas about what we should want out of life. Let go of the things that don’t matter to you and embrace what’s yours. This is your life after all, so live it!