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Your Goals or Someone Else's?

Losing sight of goals can’t always be blamed on the machinations of others. Quite often we are side-tracked by our own weaknesses, envy being a major culprit. Trying to keep up with the Joneses is a classic example. Someone’s new car or house, their job and the wealth it brings, the fact that they can afford overseas vacations and a designer wardrobe, these and many more apparent successes can make us believe that we must be doing something wrong not to have them. But were they on our original wish list, or has the assumed glamour of them slithered in later, blinding us to the point of self doubt? If we are fortunate enough to recognise that we may be straying, pausing to re-evaluate can help bring us back on track. Conversely, it might be realised that desires and preferences have changed over time. Either way, rather than imagining ourselves being satisfied with someone else’s ideals, we are thinking about the kind of future we know will suit who we are.

The influence of overpowering personalities and the need to feel part of a group can often find us going along for the ride, even though we feel uncomfortable with it. Too much of this and we eventually have to admit that these associations need to be broken if we are to regain control of our lives. Whether we do anything about it will depend on strength of character. Even this may not be enough when the main influence comes from within an intimate relationship. There is a tendency to tolerate for the sake of harmony. Personal goals may be put on hold, perhaps abandoned altogether because they don’t suit the partner. These goals may have been a reason for the development of the relationship in the first place, both parties seeming to be stimulated and excited by the same dreams; but neither will know until later if that was truly the case, or one was just pretending for obvious reasons. Time alone will tell, and it may be that both agree to accept the practicalities of life which are demanding a compromise. That’s fine if both are thinking along the same lines, but compromise has to be reciprocal. If the same person is constantly backing down to keep the other happy, the disadvantaged one is unlikely to be satisfied with the outcome. When personal goals are being constantly eroded by opposition, the dreams they were leading to eventually fade leaving the dreamer in limbo, seeing little to look forward to. Some long-term marriages would seem to dispute this and I hope that most couples continue to be genuinely happy together; but I suspect that a few unions only survived because one of the partners decided to accept a life that was not what it might have been, but was better than a life alone.

It is all very well to find fault, not so easy to come up with a remedy. With respect to being manipulated, there should never need to be a conflict between what others suggest you should do for yourself and what you believe is likely to be right. Before taking their advice, you first need to think objectively about where you are going and which goals are likely to take you there. Never mind why the suggestion was made and what the adviser might have to gain from it; simply consider if it is going to take you further along your road to the future you desire, or away from it. Just once in your life, be selfish: see your goals, both short- and long-term, then work through them until you find your dream. It will be there.

At the end of the day, the proof of the pudding is undoubtedly in the eating. Nobody knows whether they have chosen the right goals until they are living their dream and enjoying it. Early on in the piece we don’t really know where we are going and what will provide ultimate contentment, so these dreams are merely ideas borrowed from the achievements of others as an interim possibility or desire. Not everyone can be King of the world, or Queen of the catwalk, but working towards any dream means we have a desire for a happy future. The goals we select to take us there are important because they are positive and forward-thinking. Should it be realised later on that the dream wasn’t truly for us and that another seems better suited, switching goals in mid-stream shouldn’t be considered as failure, rather responding positively to a spark of awareness that arrived in time to prevent a mistake we might eventually regret. What prompted us to arrive at this decision is irrelevant. It may well have been the suggestion of a manipulator, or the fact that they over-did the conditioning which pushed us into a situation we would never have entered on our own, but that turned out to be a source of enlightenment.

Although others try to guide us in a direction that satisfies their own ends and, in fact, their dreams may seem similar, the goals that will take us to our true happiness are ours alone. We need to recognise these guiding lights and follow them.

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