People With Goals

Over the years, I have come to expect a flash of insight in my learner, the moment when s/he connects the dots, realizes that the origin of emotion lies in thought and suddenly comes awake.

Emotion is thought.

People are not disturbed by things; they are disturbed by their view of things.

As my learner and I progress through our learning adventure, however, that awakening is often replaced with bewilderment and frustration.  The noose of complacency lowers and strangles the life right out of what was once a grand opportunity for change.

People with goals, it seems, begin to achieve them by first searching for a higher level of intellectual insight.  They read; they listen; they exchange stories.  They look for shortcuts.  They ruminate over how much displeasure they can anticipate.  They try to minimize the expectation of discomfort by buying patches, pills and recorded lectures; they read reviews and search for testimonials; they fall for gimmicks, purchase miracle cures from infomercials and eat  strange, exotic concoctions.

“Was it hard?  What did you do?  What worked?  How can I do it without discomfort?  Avoid failure? How can I live exactly the way I live now and still achieve my goal?”

Seeking information does nothing more than confirm our suspicion that a goal to change our behavior is in order.  We learn that smoking is bad for your health; people cannot maintain optimal health and be fifty pounds overweight; you will benefit from having a hobby, a passion, an activity – a life force.  There is no shortage of compelling information to encourage change. People, most often, already know these things, anyway.  They just seem to want to verify it all, before committing to doing something about it; again. Confirming suspicions may be the very thing you are doing as you read this article.

You are acquiring intellectual insight.

Regardless of how much people learn, they often surrender the necessary commitment to behavior change for the safety and comfort of familiarity, doing what they have always done in place of the goals they set for themselves.  Intellectual insight, however, is not enough to meet the challenge of reaching a goal.  There must be a compelling, corresponding commitment to behavior change.  Essentially, you can’t buy an ab-cruncher, a synthetic cigarette, a diet book or treadmill and just look at it.  Well, I guess you could.  A lot of people do.

When people with goals fail to achieve their aspirations, the phenomenon of guilt sets in.  Guilt is a manifestation of perfectionism – the belief that we must always succeed, always meet the expectations we set for ourselves, live without showing weakness or failure.

“I am bad.”

“I am a failure.”

“I cannot succeed.”

“I will never change.”

“I am a shite!”

It’s all quite predictable.

The phenomenon of failure is ever-present in the way people enter into a marriage.  Couples often have a belief from the start that the marriage will likely end in divorce.  Why wouldn’t it? People learn early in their lives that married people divorce when they have difficulties.  We even explain the phenomenon of divorce to children in a way that it is a likely option for them one day.  “Mommy and Daddy just couldn’t get along, so we won’t be living together anymore.  It’s not your fault.  We just argue a lot, so twill be better if we split up.” Although the philosophy of marriage is a celebrated institution in our world culture, the committment to compromise, patience and forgiveness is often a goal that is left unachieved.  Marriage is NOT an achievement.  Marriage is a goal that is expected to last a lifetime.

Most of my learners are quite happy with the benefit they receive from having improved knowledge, better intellectual insight.  People are not, however, often willing to commit to the long haul – to make a focused effort to use their acquired wisdom for anything more than to talk about it and hang their clothes from its handles.  Completing the connection between intellectual insight and behavior change will always be the enduring challenge, regardless of the goal.

Thinking and behavior must coexist if we are to expect achievement.

If you cannot realistically commit to changing your behavior, if you envision yourself failing before you even start, don’t set the goal in the first place.  Don’t get married, don’t quit smoking and eat until you can’t eat anymore.  If you cannot honestly commit to the burden of behavior change, you will not only save a great deal of money, but you will avoid having to dispose of all your belongings at discount prices.


14 responses

  1. Pingback: People With Goals |

  2. If I hit a human it will react.
    The external information related to the event will be processed by accessing human memory resources related to the experience and how the person felt about that event. This reaction creates an impression either positive to negative to whatever degree regarding that incident.
    I would not call this reaction thought as the process that occurs would be the same if I’d hit a chimp or dog.
    The event creates an impression and it is this impression which is given a voice or structure by language. This allows far greater precision in expression. Other animals, at least as far as we know haven’t anywhere near the same complexity of language as humans.

    So I guess on this matter we see things differently. Regardless, I continue to read, enjoy and learn from your articles.

  3. Pingback: Emotional Custom |

  4. You hit the nail on the head here! Learning and acquiring knowledge is potential power. But not until that learning is put into action does it truly become power. Only then can you reach goals and hit your achievements. But you can not remain comfortable, you must be wilingly to go beyond your comfort zone if you want to see any real significant growth. Great post!

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