Friday, January 16, 2015

Goal Achievement: The Journey

We can think of our New Year’s Goal as our desired destination.  Getting there is a journey.  On Google Maps, we need to both enter in our desired destination and our present location.  It then provides a set of directions to get there.  We can see this journey visually on the map and we can see it in the step-by-step list of what road to take, where to turn right, when to merge, and how long/far it’s going to be between each step.

Present Location
Where are we compared to where we want to be?  How is this determined?  I determine it by taking a good, long, hard look at where I’m at right now in regards to the Specific Goal I have set.  I don’t want to evaluate every detail of where I am at because that will just confuse me.  This requires me to really know what my goal is.  Why do I want to obtain it?  What will change when this goal is accomplished?  What do I want to change about myself?  What area do I want to take a stand in so I can change things in those around me or in my environment?  When I can answer these questions, I can better identify my present location.  For example, if I want to change one of my behaviors, I need to be able to describe that behavior in relative detail.  What do I do now?  If I want to change a behavior in someone else, I need to identify exactly what they do now.

The Destination vs. The Journey
Choosing a specific destination narrows our choice of routes.  There are a few different routes to choose from which may even take about the same amount of time.  There are other routes we could take but they lead to other destinations, not the one we have selected for our goal.  Key:  If we choose a goal, our choice of process is narrowed.  It becomes more structured.  We are limited.  We need to comply with certain rules or laws to actually get there.  We can’t turn right at certain streets because turning left is the route to get there.  We actually can turn right but at some point, we're going to have to make a U-turn.  Most of us are okay with this.  We recognize the driving instructions are only helping us obtain our goal.  In fact many of us appreciate the structure instead of a loosey-goosey way of traveling (“Well maybe this street will get us there...”).  

The Long Way Around
Others of us can’t stand the confinement of specific instructions, rules, laws.  We want as much freedom as is possible to choose when to turn right or when to turn left.  We like to just explore wherever we are, taking side roads just to see where they go.  This is when the journey is more important than the destination to us.  In fact, we may have not yet identified a goal that is valuable enough to us to exclude other possible goals and therefore other possible pathways.  We are still exploring, shopping around, brainstorming, choosing—taking the scenic route.  And that is okay and necessary!  But the time must come when all of us need to make a choice.  There is time given to make that choice.  The choice needs to be made before time runs out.  Joy is in the journey and in the destination.  The destination is when we have the ability, talent, capacity, and positioning to help others on their journey.

We may also choose to take the long way because we need the time to become.  We may desire to achieve our goal with all our heart but need more time to actually develop the ability to do it.  This means that at least part of our goal is to improve the way that we journey.  It has something to do with our personal fitness—our ability to run, to climb, to endure.  Physically it may be our cardiovascular endurance, our strength, or our flexibility.  Spiritually it may be our patience, our ability to remain balanced in imbalanced situations, or our ability to empathize and get along with others.  Sometimes the only way we can obtain these goals is with time and repeated experiences.  Thus our journey to arrive at our desired destination may be the long way around.

The Mountain Journey
Every goal is a mountain to climb.  We may choose to take the harder journey straight up the mountain side.  We may need and have the capacity to travel at a more intense rate.   Caution:  When we speak about getting to the top of the mountain, it’s not about beating everyone else.  It's not about being king (or queen) of the hill.  We mean that every goal, when obtained, elevates us to a higher level.  When we obtain it we become something more than we were.  We have a higher, more complete perspective of life.  We just get it better than we did before.  This is growth.  How we use that new and higher perspective (to squash others or show off vs. to help others and demonstrate a solid example of where the pathway to obtain this goal is) is another topic for another discussion.  Any mountain climber (or treadmill user) knows that when incline increases, the heart rate increases.  It is also true that when we increase speed, heart rate increases.  Increasing both incline and speed makes for a more intense workout.  

Finding our individual target heart rate zone and staying within it enables us to endure to the end at a specific incline and speed.  This is our rate of progression.  It's our personal pace.  Journeying within our zone (and I'm not talking about comfort zone here) enables us to get to the top without keeling over or just wanting to quit (give up on our New Year's Goal) before we get there.

Choosing Destination and Time
If we want to get to a certain destination and we are presently located in a certain place, there are certain physical laws that must be obeyed in order to get there.  Because Scottie cannot beam us up, we have to climb.  We can’t say I want this thing and I want it right now.  As noted in the last post (Goal Achievement:  Choosing a Guide), there may be Conflicting Causes that say they have Beam-Me-Up-Scottie routes to obtain the exact same thing as if we had actually taken the real mountain journey to get there.  These routes are false and the results will never be able to satisfy us (see post:  The Value of Valuing).

Thus it is true that IF we:
1.  Choose our destination
2.  Unavoidably reside where we presently do
3.  Have the capacity to progress at a certain rate (Our Personal Fitness Zone)

we can’t choose the time it’s going to take us to get there.  Bottom line.

If our goal is to obtain an ability, talent, state of joy, condition, or piece of knowledge for which the process to obtain it is presently unknown OR if our goal is to obtain a relationship that involves the agency of another, we can't choose the timing.  But if the process to obtain our specific goal is known AND we know our zone--our progression rate, we can establish time limits for each step to be completed.  In order to identify our zone, we need to spend time evaluating our past progression.  We are unable to set realistic goals if we don't know our zone--our capacity to climb that specific mountain.

Increasing Rate of Progression
We can improve our ETA (estimated time of arrival) by improving our Fitness Zone.  This is gaining strength and endurance both physically and spiritually.  If we can learn to handle an increased incline and/or an increased speed, we will be able to get there faster without keeling over or giving up.

More thoughts on the Goal Achievement Journey in the next blog post.