Daily Inspiration: “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.
Posted Oct 05 2011 2:17pm
Many people in the U.S. are preoccupied with the “The American Dream”: having a goal, working hard, overseeing obstacles, seeing their goal through to fruition. Doctors, lawyers, engineers, business executives, teachers, and countless other hardworking, successful Americans swear by this route to success.
Unfortunately, many people often feel disillusioned after they achieve their goal. As the former football star Deion Sanders once said, after he won the Super Bowl with the San Francisco 49ers, he was disillusioned: “Is this all that it is? I’ve worked and reached the pinnacle of my career. I thought it would be different. Yes, I’m happy…But it’s not what I thought it would be.” ( source )
Some people suggest that you enjoy the journey, take more breaks – essentially slow down and smell the roses. Yet I’m too type-A to suggest something like this. There’s great joy to be gotten from doing amazing things, after all. What I take from this instead is that you can still be headstrong, passionate, and devoted, but what you need to make sure of is that you like who are you are becoming in the process.
For a while, I hated medical school. I was tired of working and studying 12-14 hour days without getting paid. Even part-time lab work didn’t pay very much. And it was more than just money. I couldn’t foresee myself putting in that level of time and energy 20 or 30 years into the future.
Yet, one day, I asked one of my residents how she stayed so motivated.
“It’s not about what you do everyday,” she said. “It’s about what you do teaches you.”
In addition to skill and knowledge, medical school teaches you dedication, sacrifice, and how to maintain air of professionalism in the midst of difficult circumstances. It’s made me less inclined to complain and more willing to push through sleepless nights. It’s not for everyone, and I don’t know if I will end up practicing or not. Yet I do know that these four years are shaping me to be a better person.
If you are chasing a goal, whether it be for a new job, a remodeled home, or a better relationship, and it’s not making you a better person in the process, why bother? If you’re spending ten years saving every dollar and investing every minute into revamping an old home, grumbing the entire time, wouldn’t it be better to find a home you love in the first place? There are no guarantees you’ll get to live in the remodeled home for ten years, after all. But there is certainty that you will be miserable in the meantime.
There’s a time to grin and bear it. Sometimes it builds character. Yet if you are letting a goal or experience break you instead of build you, it’s time to find a new goal. Seriously. There are many honorable goals that are joyous along the way. Find a goal that makes you so focused you lose sense of the time, so fascinated you want to call your closest friend and share, so enthusiastic you wake up before the alarm goes off each morning. Most of all, this kind of passion and enthusiasm makes you a perpetually learning, growing, progressive person.