Can you only live a happy and fulfilled life when you have reached a certain goal? When does your life really start? You can live your life now and still reach your big goals.
When Will Your Life Start?
When you were in kindergarten, you thought that when you will be in school, then you will have all the possibilities, then your life will start.
When you were in school, you thought that when you will be in high school, then you will have all the knowledge, then your life will start.
When you were in college, you thought that when you will have your first job, then you will have all the money, then your life will start.
When you worked in a company, you thought that when you will get this promotion, then you will have all the influence, then your life will really start.
When you work day in and day out, you think that when you retire, then you have all the time, then your life will really, really start.
Really? When you read this, there is a very high chance that your life has already started and that it is not over yet. So, you are right in the middle of it, maybe a bit more in the first half, maybe a bit more in the second half. But certainly your life has started.
The Future You
While it is good to have goals it can also be dangerous if you sacrifice your present life for a potential future goal. Why is this? There are several reasons.
First, of course, it can prevent you from enjoying the present moment. If you always feel your life will fully start only if you achieve a certain goal you are likely to miss something in the present.
For example, if you count your days, or years until retirement because you think then you will have enough time, freedom and money to enjoy life fully, what does this mean for your current life? Chances are that you are in “wait mode”. You wait for your goal because only then your life will be happy and fulfilled. Life happens right now and your life can and should be happy and fulfilled now and in the future.
The second reason is that the future might never come. If you have a really big and ambitious goal, you might never fully achieve it. Or, if you achieve it it might feel different than expected. Your expectations might have been too high and you are not significantly happier than before. For our retirement example, maybe you have the time and money to travel the world – but it is much less enjoyable than you thought when you were younger.
And, it is very likely that if you reach one goal, for example a promotion, after just a couple of months you will feel the need for the next level, the next goal, the next promotion.
The Present You
Now (a good word to start this paragraph with), there is also the other end of the spectrum. You can just enjoy the present without any future goals. Maybe you have these ideas about writing a book or founding a company but at the end everything is quite OK and you go out for a party again.
In this case, however, there might come a turning point in your life when you think about if this is really all. Maybe this is just a short moment and then a friend calls you and you go out to the bar again. But then, years later you recognize that you miss something. The parties and the bars are still fine but that cannot be the meaning of life. You remember your goals and maybe you start learning again. And, maybe you will write your book, and maybe you will found your company. But, hopefully it is not too late. Hopefully, you do not only recognize this on your deathbed.
You Live Now
Live now, have fun and still reach your goals? Yes. As with many things in life it is about the right balance. But what is the right balance?
Let’s take the student. She studies law. She wants to become a lawyer. Her parents are lawyers, too. In her early twenties she studies all day, and all night while her friend goes out and party. After many years she becomes a lawyer. After some more years she works in a good law firm and earns a lot of money. Then, more years pass, she recognizes that something is missing in her life. It feels like her life is missing. She feels like a cog and she functions quite well but she basically works for other people’s goals. She doesn’t feel alive.
Or let’s take her friend, the one that goes to all the parties. He gets OK grades, he travels a bit and then he gets an OK job.
Then, both in their late forties, the two friends meet again. They go for a coffee and talk. The lawyer says she wishes she had traveled the world. And her friend says he wishes he had studied medicine.
So, who has the better life? This both does not sound like the very attractive role model for a fulfilled life and for achieved life goals, right?
Live Your Passion
Live your passion? Yea, you are right. This is an overused empty phrase. It might not even be always true. If you have big goals, life goals, this means hard work. It is not always fun. But, on the other side the phrase is not always false. Of course, it is fulfilling – for yourself and for the people around you – if you do what you do with passion.
Have you ever been in a restaurant where the owner came to you and explained all the details of the dishes and the wine selection with passion? Passion makes a difference.
Passion combines various benefits. For example passion implies purpose. If you are doing something with passion you might have found your purpose and thus you might be on the right track to live a fulfilled life.
Also, passion is rewarding. For the restaurant owner his “job” does not feel like work, it feels like a hobby. Even if he had enough money he would still have his little restaurant.
What would you do if you did not have to earn money? Watch TV, travel, write a book, open a restaurant? Ideally, you can find something that people are willing to spend money on. Who knows, there are some people out there who turned their hobby into a profession.
If you wake up every morning and think about why you have not studied medicine. Go and do it. If you go to bed every night and you think about why you have not traveled the world. Go and do it. If you know your passion – you are very lucky if you do – go and do it. The sooner the better. Because later, often becomes later and later until one day it is too late.
Do you need some help with your goals? The resources and tools on our web site contain practical information and tricks all around goal setting. And, our free VidaGoals goal-setting app for Android can become our daily or weekly goal-setting companion.