Does meeting your goals equal success?
“This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow as the night the day,
Thou cannot then be false to any man.”
It is a bit annoying that one of my favourite quotes was originally uttered by a rather odious character, preachy, platitudinous old Polonius in Hamlet. Remember though, that in the Elizabethan consciousness he meant that one’s own interests come first. He did not mean self indulgence or some New Age self realization quest.
I suspect he was referring to making sure that you are solvent, strong, healthy and sensible, so that you can look after others. At a deep level we have to take responsibility. There is no escaping that basic fact of being in the world.
The delights of dope may delude you into thinking your purpose is great, but humans have only these three things in common: we defecate and we die, and we don’t get away with anything. I am not a space cadet, but this I know: At the deepest esoteric level we get what we deserve.
Who am I?
A fulfilling life as a goal, has at its core self-realisation. Material or worldly success may very well be one of the goals you set out to achieve, may be a true expression of your innermost self. But say you have all this and the trappings thereof by the time you are thirty; the yuppie dream come true, and you find yourself not happy, what then?
The increase in white colour recreational drugs is telling, no? If you define yourself only by the things you can buy, what happens when you suddenly lose it all? If physical beauty is your goal, what happens if you get old or you are the statistic of plastic surgery failures? This is the trick question of our age.
To be the person you want to be
How can I be the person I really want to be unless I know who that person is? the goal of living only for others can be as much of a denial as an entirely selfish life. Mothers know this give-take conundrum intimately. The empty nest syndrome is a big ‘who am I?’
However, freely chosen selflessness is not the same as self-negation – Self indulgence is not the same as owning your identity, being able to “impart meaning and direction to your life of yourself.” This is a question of ‘who you are’, nobody can answer for you, but I think it is in the realm of the heart. Ambitions are great drivers of action, but the goal of the soul is a subtler prompt. Yet, if unmet, it can have dire consequences.
In the Western world, identity is tied up with what one does, one’s work. The Dalai Lama was stumped by the question “What do you consider your primary job?” in an interview. His final answer was, “I just take care of myself. That is my main task.”
How to be the person you want to be? I don’t have the foggiest. But I shall leave you with a Langston Hughes poem, as there is something there that rings true when thinking about goals, not in the mind, not in the practical arena, but somewhere in the region of the heart chakra:
“Hold fast to dreams,
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird,
That cannot fly.”
One of your most important goals should be to Insure all your valuables!