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Jonathan Eccker for DealerOn Dev

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Journey Before Destination: A Discussion of Goals

I've adopted the mantra of Brandon Sanderson's "Way of Kings" for a little more than a year now. "Journey Before Destination" has been at the core of a lot of decisions I have made.

Truth be told I've tried to write several articles on it, but they always feel somewhat hollow when written for other people. I think finding out what the mantra means to you is a very important part of the journey, and that's not something that can be conveyed via an article.

What I WOULD like to talk about, however, is how it relates to Goals.

What is a Goal?

A quick google gives you "the object of a person's ambition or effort; an aim or desired result". The term "result" is key in how most people treat goals, it is a destination. It's viewed as some final state that we can reach to provide some absolute measure of success.

In theory, goals are helpful. They are intended to help drive us forward, give us some ideal future state to look forward to, and help guide us when making difficult decisions.

There wouldn't be an article without a but...

But. That's all in theory. We, as humans, have a habit of distorting goals into something that loses most of the original value.

The Three States

When we talk about goals, there's really only three states we like categorizing them in: In Progress, Succeeded, and Failed.

This oversimplification means that if you are no longer pursuing a goal, and you did not succeed in it, it defaults to being viewed as a failure. This viewpoint is a massive driver of the negative relationship that a large portion of Americans have with college. Once you've started down the college route, any divergence from that route is viewed as a failure.


Goals have a habit of being set in stone.

Never mind that we are human. We learn and change, and that the world learns and changes around us.

This is very common in people who want to lose weight. Generally when you set out down the path of losing weight you set some unrealistic target weight (or BMI) based on some number the internet spit out, make some progress and eventually peter off towards some asymptote that is defined by how much you changed your lifestyle (likely still far off from your target).

With our tendency to view goals of being rigid, the routes you will often hear about taken here are:
1) Maintain their current lifestyle and stress endlessly that they can't meet their goal (likely causing more damage from stress than the weight)
2) Massively change the lifestyle in a frantic attempt to reach their goal (often undoing the lifestyle change the second they reach it)


Once you reach that goal, life will be different.

We have the habit of picturing ourselves with a degree, at our target weight, married, with a million dollars, whatever that goal is. We're fed all the imagery we need to glamorize it.

Going back to the college degree, there's sort of this mindset of:

  1. Go to College
  2. Get Degree
  3. ???
  4. Profit!

I can think of very few things in this world (that I've encountered) which, once reached, are like flipping a switch of "and now life is better".

The lie we grew up with

There's this saying, I would be very surprised if anyone hadn't heard it. "You can achieve anything you want if you try hard enough". We do ourselves a disservice by living by that saying.

It puts an unreasonable responsibility on us as individuals, and implies that if we don't succeed then it's all our fault because we didn't try hard enough. It completely ignores the fact that there are millions of variables that are out of our control and there are quite simply some things in the universe that are impossible.

Ok so we should give up and never try to achieve anything. Thanks.


The point of this is to empower you to make the right decisions, to follow a good, positive, path.

Life isn't made up of big, eventful, goal-reachings.

Life is made up of a series of steps. A series of decisions.

The most you can ever do, the most anyone (including yourself) can ever expect from you, is that you make the best decisions you can.

For me this means following aspirations as opposed to goals. More flexible priorities that help me make every day decision (think "eat healthier" versus "lose weight"). The more I go down this route the more I realize that the Sims got it right with whims and aspirations.

No matter what all of this means to you, the most important thing to remember is that life is happening now. Live your journey.

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