The right way to think about a goal
Last time we have discussed the myth to delay gratification. One significant problem to it is that we may compromise our happiness during the process if we don’t do it correctly. This is a trap that makes us feel that to delay gratification is painful and unenjoyable at all. We are very likely to fall victim to the trap we put ourselves into. Keeping doing something that makes you suffer is not good, of course.
However, we understand the importance and benefits of delayed gratification. If we can hold up to the last moment, the delayed gratification is usually greater than the instant gratification we are able to get. For example, if you want to buy something, thoroughly figuring out or understanding every detail of it is far better than go directly to something that looks good at first glance. The same principle applies to whatever goal we commit ourselves to achieve. Taking time to plan out and carefully carrying out is more likely to produce better results. The benefits delayed gratification yield may outweigh the sweat and hard effort we put ourselves into.
OK. How can one strike a balance between the two? Should we comprise our happiness during the process in order to get a “greater” gratification? Or should we abandon the idea of delaying and just enjoy whatever available at the moment that makes us happy? These are the two extreme ways of dealing with it and choosing either of them would impair our overall happiness or quality of the result.
Here comes the question: how should we manage our happiness associated with a goal? Well, setting a goal is something we can do easily, but achieving it is totally a different story. What separates a goal and a trap is our mindset. If we feel that a goal is everything and not achieving it is a disaster, then we put ourselves into this trap. Nothing is absolutely certain about a goal. It depends on time, other people, resources you have, luck, etc. So many things are indeed out of your control. It is not a sane way to do things when you attach yourself and your identity to something that totally out of control. The goal is still the goal, achieving it or not, we need to make a promise to ourselves that don’t let our happiness depend on it. To step out of the trap, this is arguably the first and foremost thing to do.
A goal is something that we expect we are able to achieve. But the most important thing is not the goal, however. Instead, it is the process, it is every single minute that we think hard and proactively do things to improve. Through this procedure, we understand things better, become more capable, and eventually, these all feed our self-confidence. Regardless of whether the goal is achieved or not, we are always growing, right? A paradigm shift is crucial here. Our true happiness comes from the process of gaining more self-confidence. So the process is far more important than the goal itself.
To make this paradigm shift is not easy, but it is possible and worthwhile to do. Before that, we need to understand deeply why goals sometimes can work against us. We’ll explore this in subsequent posts.
(To be continued)