On Having No End Goal

On Having No End Goal

And the winner of the “first you have to drink four pints” pub darts competition is…
Photo by Miikka Luotio on Unsplash

We pin our hopes and wishes to the randomness of the world around us. Doing the best we can to reach our goal is a one thing. But a part of the success comes from crossing our fingers, hoping that a stray event doesn’t derail us from our grand plans.

And all along our happiness is on hold. Days, months and years go by as we wait for a better tomorrow. That day when we can finally move into our dream forever home, walk up to the shiny double door fridge and reach in to take a gulp from the carton of triumph that looks a lot like milk. And realise the damn thing is actually out of date.

We are guilty of the same with our health and fitness. Focusing on goals we have no full control of. Whether it’s to lose ten kilograms in two short months before summer. Or being able to outrun a reversing 2007 (red) Toyota Corolla by mid-February.

As much as we’d like to think we are the big wheel of our destiny, there’s only so much we can do. Sometimes success is just a matter of dumb luck. It’s the difference of being in the right, or wrong place, at the right, or wrong, time, with the right, or wrong people, while holding the right, or wrong, brand of deodorant. Reaching a specific end goal requires a lot of things to go our way.

Hoping that the earth will align to our benefit is delusional.

It’s a modus operandi for unhappiness. Focusing single-mindedly on the end goal could mean we end up going through our entire life without ever being content.

Besides, when focusing on the end goal, we have the tendency to follow actions and habits that have a short shelf life. Strict diets, excessive training, working all-nighters, taking truck driver showers.

These are actions that have a best before date with little to zero carry over to the not-so-perfect real world. Times when we are muddling through life and the earth seems to spin backwards just to mess with our being.

Even in sports focusing on the end goal is risky. The athlete is putting her focus on to something that she has no full control of. Again, a lot in the world has to go her way.

Yes, some people run through walls with the end goal in sight. Like, I don’t know, Michael Jordan. But the chances of you or me (definitely not me) being like Michael Jordan? Slim. And so, the alternative becomes much more appealing.

We can focus on what we can control.

We can align our actions, not with the end goal, but with who we want to be, today. By focusing on the moment we’re in right now. Whether it’s to lose fat, get stronger, or to win the local pub darts competition. To play the best game we can. Choosing the habits we can control and adjusting them as necessary.

Doing so allows us to build habits we can maintain forever. Something that the narrow focus on the end goal doesn’t. We are more likely to feel fulfilled and content when we have (almost) full control of our actions.

We can’t control what we can’t control. But we can do the best we can with the control we have. We can start by asking, what are the daily habits of the person I want to become?

Then, all we have to do is to keep our promise. To follow through with what we said we would do.

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