Friday, April 16, 2010

What is a Goal?

I've been thinking a fair amount about what it means to have a goal, and how that goal is perceived by others, and what having a goal means to me.

When I was skating, the goal, ultimately, was to win the pride of my parents by making an achievement that was exemplary. I lived in pursuit of this goal for many years. I hoped to achieve highly so that my sense of self worth would be granted to me by my Step Father. I had worked in pursuit of his pride.

The interesting thing about living your life so that someone else will be proud of you is that you are never quite enough for you. You live in pursuit of validation from outside sources. I'd been challenged by him to be the best, better than him, and most of my steps were measured and graded: was I fast, strong, smart? Was I faster, stronger and smarter than he was?

During my careers in skating and acting, I missed a lot of the journey, ever in pursuit of the final end product, the statement, "You did it well enough that I'm proud."

Because we can always improve, and because I always chose careers in which intimate and exacting critique were a manner of course, I never achieved that moment.

The lesson of leaving skating in such a despondent state, of abandoning something I'd loved once because it hadn't given me what I thought I needed in life, namely the love of a parent, was a resounding one.

At a certain point, we were going to start a family, and I wanted my kids to grow up feeling sure, secure, and like they had wings to be who they wanted to be. I knew they couldn't do that if they saw me looking to the outside world for validation. I went back to therapy.

The long and short of it is, I do believe in goals. But now, I see them very differently. Today, I see a goal as a dot in the distance that you walk toward, so that you have some focus in your life.

But I also strongly believe that wishing that something was other than it is is the definition of suffering, and that to really live your life, you have to practice accepting where you are in your life right now in this moment. Who you are, what your circumstances are, what the realities are.

So for me today, I don't wish that I was on the team. I don't wish I was a better skier than I am. The team, for me, is a dot in the distance that is worth walking toward, having some focus like that helps me to be happy with what I have, and know that I can continue to grow. Having a goal allows me to remove impediments and just enjoy becoming.

I'll either become in a way that gets my feet and soul and teaching and person to a place where I'd be an asset to the team, or I won't. That's not, and really never has been the point.

The point has been each of the people I've met along the way. They've all taught me to do something that I love, and I've learned to love learning it. Having a goal helps me and some of the people I work with to understand that I like to train hard and I'm not afraid of hard work. Having this goal was a way, originally, for me to ask for someone to take me seriously and really work with me. In the process, I got to take him to lunch and listen to his stories, and learn about the history of skiing, of PSIA, of the team. This was a hugely humbling experience for me.

I guess what I'm trying to get across here is that I feel that goals are important in your life, but they aren't a terminus. They aren't the point of life, you don't "win" when you get there. A goal, for me, is a point in the distance you walk towards, so that you have a reference to grow by. I like to put my goals way up in the stars, because that way, I don't limit myself. Even though I might only make it down the block, by putting my goal further away from myself, I give myself a little bit of permission to practice believing in me, being enough, not having to look outside, and just growing.

1 comment:

Jongira said...

Hey. This post of yours reminded me of my most favorite Sondheim song. Look it up, if you don't know it: awesome, it's called "Someone in a Tree" from "Pacific Overtures". But the sneaky part is that the 'being there' in the process is even more important than the goal achieved.
Bonne chance, - J

It's the fragment, not the day.
It's the pebble, not the stream.
It's the ripple, not the sea
That is happening.