At an intellectual and practical level, I am very aware of the importance of having goals. It is absolutely imperative that you have some sense of direction in your life, because otherwise you’ll just end up walking in circles, burning a path in the grass. Not only should you have goals, you should have goals that fit the S.M.A.R.T. criteria. They should be specific, as opposed to general; measurable, as opposed to immeasurable; attainable, as opposed to unrealistic; relevant, as opposed to unrelated to any greater goals; and timely, as opposed to having no timeline at all. For example, having a goal that states that you want to “be happier in life at some point” is absolutely meaningless and worthless. Instead, a better goal would be “I want to earn $X dollars this year” or “I want to lose X number of pounds by the end of next month.”

It’s also important to have goals in every aspect of your life. Professionally, goals are usually pretty easy to come by, because you can strive for greater responsibility, a better title, more money… all sorts of things. But it’s also useful to think about other things too, like your mental health, your physical health, your social network, and your charitable acts.

I have all of these kinds of goals and for the most part, I have them all written down so that I can constantly remind myself of them. I’m glad that I have a sense of direction. But at the same time, I believe that goals are the absolute bane of my existence, and I’ll tell you why.

By having these goals in place, it’s hard to ever be satisfied with your current lot in life. However much you happen to be earning at your job (or on your blog, etc.), it’s never enough, because you’ve got a goal in place that exceeds the current state of affairs. No matter how much you improved your cardiovascular health in the past year, it’s still not enough, because you know with more work and dedication, you can shave even more minutes off of your lap time. What results is a constant state of dissatisfaction. And that can’t possibly be healthy.

It’s almost like our culture’s relationship to cow’s milk. Is milk good for you? On the one hand, you know that you should probably drink it because of all the good things it has, helping you strengthen your bones and teeth and so on. On the other hand, you’re probably aware of the not so good things about milk, like the higher fat content (especially with homogenized milk… I just can’t get myself to drink skim, I’m sorry). There’s good and there’s bad, and the net result is a whole lot of gray (don’t drink gray milk).

Overall, I’d say that I’m reasonably happy with the way things are going for this blog and for my freelance writing business, especially since I get to play with some fun toys every once in a while. I have a great family and good friends, so that part of my life is in order too. But these goals! Ack! They’re just constantly looming there, reminding me that it could be better. More money could be made. A better living situation can be had. Each time I achieve a goal, I immediately create another one in its place that takes it further. It’s true what they say… the grass always looks greener on the other side.

Do you have goals or do you just go with the flow?