Goals are a funny thing. They are such a big focus of our day-to-day lives.
‘If you want to be successful you have to have goals.’ OR ‘People who are successful, set goals and go out and achieve them.’
That was the mantra throughout my formative years and into my teens. To build on last week’s post, I don’t have a problem with goals. Goals, I believe, are a good thing. They give us a direction, and something to aim for. I have set numerous goals myself, some I have achieved and some I have not or have yet to achieve. My caveat is that I believe most people are too focused on the OUTCOME or outcome-based goals. What I have come to find, and this really has only been a realization in the last ~18 months, is this:
A truly fulfilling life isn’t centered around goals and outcomes, it is centered around a purpose, WHY or an IDENTITY. From that purpose, you get a direction and your goals are destinations along that path.
What is a fulfilling life? A fulfilling life for me is one where I am living my purpose, my WHY, my IDENTITY, every single day. Continually refining and trying to live each day better than the next.
What is my purpose, my WHY?
To empower as many people as I possibly can to live a healthier and happier life.
This is my motto, my IDENTITY, my WHY. This is the foundation of my underlying belief and value system – it doesn’t change. It is what I check every decision, and action against. It is my mooring point. It grounds me and provides my life’s journey with a direction. If a decision or action doesn’t align with my WHY, I don’t do it. Now I know this seems like a very broad statement, and I have struggled over the last few months to make sense of this and explain it to others. I innately know and live by my WHY on a daily basis, and I want to help others to do the same. So how do I do that? And how does this apply to things that are NOT focused on other people say my nutrition, fitness, education, etc.?
The answer was more obvious than I thought, but first a little biology and anthropology. Humans are a tribal species. From an evolutionary standpoint (PS. if you haven’t noticed I think it is soooo cool how everything relates back to our evolutionary biology), humans always came together to form small groups and communities. We were never a species that would be found on our own. Our natural tendency is to seek out a societal structure for food, protection, and other resources.
Research shows if you have a lack of social structure and camaraderie it can lead to depression, anxiety, other mood disorders and even a decline in general health.
So as a species we are engineered to look out for and care for each other. We see multitudes of examples that demonstrate this today – the current fires that are burning in Australia are a great example. Yes, people are concerned about the #koalas as well, but we are also wanting to help our fellow man.
The point I am trying to get at here is that EVERYONE has an underlying purpose, identity, or WHY. Not everyone understands or knows what that is, but I can guarantee that some component of that purpose or WHY involves looking out for or giving back to your fellow man. That is just biology – we need to look out for one another to ensure our genetic code gets passed on to the next generation and our species continues to survive and thrive.
I slightly digressed. Back to my original question where does my WHY come into play around goals involving my own health, nutrition, fitness, or things that seem to involve me and only me, not my tribe or clan?
Well, when I choose to work on my fitness – this will ultimately help me to be healthier, have greater mental clarity, and improve my mood which will make me more able to fulfill my WHY. Similarly, when I choose a salad over fries, a salad will likely provide me with more nutritious value, again helping me to live a healthier lifestyle that will allow me to fulfill my WHY.
Do you see how irrespective of what I do it still comes back to my underlying purpose? So instead of focusing on the outcome, take a step back and dig a little deeper. Try to determine:
- “What is my underlying driver?”
- “Why am I here?”
- “Why do I want to lose weight?”
A great place to start is to reflect on some of the key or defining moments and stories in your life – What was happening? What were the common themes, feelings, and actions? Then share them with someone close to you to help you find those common threads – did they seem to involve caring for someone? Or providing a service?
This is just a start of the reflective process, but as you tease out that purpose and start aligning your goals with it… I can GUARANTEE you will not only be living a more fulfilling life but you will also be much more successful at reaching your destinations along your journey.
– Dr. Dan