How to achieve life fulfillment right now using the hidden wisdom in your goals
Goals are how we change our lives, right?
Want to feel better? Set a goal.
Want to make money? Set a goal.
Want to take over the world? Set a goal.
Goals are generally good. To get somewhere, you need to know what direction to head.
But what if I told you it’s more important to set your goals than to achieve them?
Crazy, right? But bear with me.
I think the goals we set have a deeper, hidden meaning for each of us. This meaning, not the actual goal, is our key to fulfillment. We just have to discover what that meaning is.
Let’s take a common financial independence goal – to live off my investments for the rest of my life.
You’ve set your goal. Now I ask, “What will you do once you’ve accomplished this goal?”
You -> “I’ll be free to travel the world. I’ll finally have time for my family and hobbies. I’ll be able to take life more slowly.”
“Okay, how will that make you feel when you do those things?”
“I’ll feel free and unconstrained. I’ll feel relaxed and comforted. I’ll feel more calm overall.”
Now I get to ask the deep question, “Why don’t you feel that right now?”
Goals expose what’s missing in our lives
Our goals show us how we want to feel, but don’t right now.
This why financial independence, and goals in general, look so different for each person.
We all want enough money to live our lives, but we want it for different reasons. We all lack different feelings in our lives and we all want to feel different things.
For example, here’s my current FI (financial independence) goals:
I own my own businesses. They have processes in place so I only have to work part-time. I have the time and money to take 4-6 vacations a year with my family. I can take long hikes and spend time outdoors whenever I want. I have plenty of time to relax and take care of myself. I have the capacity to support and care for my two special needs kids. I also have the time and energy to volunteer. Each area of my life will wax and wane, but I balance them fairly well.
I bet your FI goals look quite different, right?
That’s because my version of FI is about what I lack in my day-to-day life.
- pride and confidence
- I think owning businesses would help me feel proud and confident
- freedom and abundance
- I think more vacations would fulfill my need for that
- feeling calm and relaxed
- I think having more free time would calm and relax me
- competency and capability with my kids
- I think having time for self-care would help me feel competent and capable of supporting them
- I think volunteering would help me feel generous
- competency and control
- I think creating a different life would make me feel competent and in control of my life
Your FI goals are different because you lack different emotions in your daily life.
Maybe you want to travel more. Is it because you feel trapped, confined, bored, or other emotions that you think traveling will fulfill?
Maybe you want to quit working altogether. Is that because you feel exhausted, creatively stifled, burned out, or something else that not working will solve?
Our goals hold hidden wisdom about how we currently feel and what we want to feel. Uncovering this wisdom can help us live a fulfilled life right now.
We often think when we acquire material things, like money, we’ll instantly feel better (more free, unconstrained, relaxed, comforted, secure, calm, etc).
And in some ways we will (not having to worry about earning money is pretty calming).
But why wait until we’ve achieved our goal? Why can’t we start feeling better today?
Use that wisdom and build a fulfilling life now
Let’s take my example from before.
I don’t feel proud and confident. I think owning a business (or many) will create those feelings. Instead of waiting to achieve that goal, could I do something to feel more proud and confident now?
Well, why don’t I feel proud and confident right now?
I have plenty of things to be proud of.
- I won my school spelling bee 3 times
- I was accepted to travel to Europe in high school for band
- I graduated a year early from high school
- I helped my family rise out of debt and grow our net worth
- I became a better parent
- I earned my Bachelors degree this year
- I built a beautiful garden at my last house and plan to build one here
So why don’t I feel proud?
We won’t delve into my many issues, but we all have them. Chances are, I don’t remember my accomplishments very often and/or I have an unreasonably high bar for what I’m allowed to feel proud of.
But these are things I control.
What if I:
- have a list of my accomplishments that I review and add to regularly
- have a list of everything I’ve tried, regardless of how it turned out
- reflect on how I want to live my life and develop my own expectations (or throw them all out)
Let’s say instead I want to quit working when I reach FI. I realize I’m burned out. Maybe I could:
- take a vacation
- say “no” to some obligations I don’t enjoy and simplify my life
- start researching activities I enjoy and how I could help others
These steps may seem trivial, but our actions dictate how we feel. If we want to feel better then we need to change our actions. It takes time and effort, but ‘practice makes perfect’.
We all just want to be fulfilled
Our goals show us how to live a fulfilling life today.
There’s lots of reasons to achieve FI. Set your own goals and discover what you lack in your life. Use that knowledge to create better habits and improve your life today.
Your FI goals will still be waiting for you and will likely change over time. By doing this work, in a way, you’ll reach them sooner.
Our goals represent life fulfillment. You can achieve that once you’ve done the work and cultivated those emotions in your life. No more waiting to hit that magic FI number.
Our FI goals hold the secrets to our happiness – today. If we take the time, we can discover what we truly yearn for and how we want to feel every day. Once those secrets are revealed, we can take action to cultivate those feelings. We can live a whole, more complete life starting today.
What do you think?
What are your FI goals? What is it you truly want to feel in your daily life?