About two weeks ago, a friend observed that since I started The Simple Dollar, I seem to have become really goal-oriented. Then he asked two big questions that really made me think:
Will you ever reach your goals? And what will you do when you get there?
I’m a goal-oriented person. I find it much easier to accomplish the things I want to do in life if I set clear milestones and aim straight for them. One big aspect of my personal finance success is that I began to set goals that focused on getting my money straight – before my turnaround, I used to focus on other things.
I have small goals, like my list of 101 goals in 1001 days. I have big goals, like complete debt freedom, financial independence, and raising emotionally and intellectually centered children.
These goals drive me on a daily basis. Each day, I get up intending to push myself towards one or more of these goals, and every once in a while, I feel the relief of accomplishing one or more of them.
What happens, then, when I reach my goals? Where will I be at if my children grow up and have healthy and normal lives, I’ve achieved financial independence, and I’m completely free from debt?
I move on to new goals, ones that I’m not able to reach for right now because I haven’t achieved enough in life yet.
I would love to spend a few years doing volunteer work in a poverty-stricken nation, where people don’t have access to the basic food and water they need. I would love to be able to work for a foundation that pushes for basic personal finance education in all schools. I would love to be able to just drop everything and write the novel I know I have inside of me. I would love to be able to start a granting agency to financially support and promote people who go beyond the call of duty in their lives for social work – something of a MacArthur Genius Grant for social work.
But I’m not there yet.
These dreams are the really big ones, the ones I won’t be able to reach for for twenty or thirty years. These are the dreams I have that might just help change the world. But they require me to have a platform of support that I can leap from.
To a degree, I’m working towards one of them now. My dream about pushing for basic financial education in schools is coming true in part because of The Simple Dollar, and I’m going to do a few things over the next year or two to push that idea even further.
What do these things have in common? They all seek to uplift as many people as possible through communication. It’s a common thread through almost every big life-altering dream I have.
Some people refer to this general idea as a vocation, that your career is just one element of your true role. I look at it this way: what is the purpose of your life? It’s a difficult question for many people to answer, and I’ll confess that sometimes, when I’m troubled, I wonder what my purpose is, too.
So, will I ever reach my goals? Probably not, because each goal I have is just another step in a life’s journey. I’m just thankful that I have at least some semblance of an idea where I’m going and why.
Just sit down for a minute and think about it. What do you want to do with your life? Do you have an answer? Mull it over in your head for a few days, and realize that you have many, many years ahead of you to make it happen. If something begins to take shape in your mind, think about what you can do to get there. It starts with a goal for tomorrow, a goal for next month, and a goal for the next decade.
Your money and your career are just small parts of that bigger picture. Good luck in finding it.