“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.” – Epictetus
My friend Rachel had a lofty goal in mind. I knew her in high school and her goal was to receive a diving scholarship from the University of Nebraska. All through her high school years, this desire motivated her in significant ways.
It inspired her to wake up early in the morning and hit the gym. It inspired her everyday after school as she hit the pool over and over again. It affected her eating habits, choosing to eat healthy salads and water rather than cheeseburgers and soda (like the rest of us). She would often go to bed early so that she could rise early in the morning to get started the next day. She would lie in bed rehearsing dives in her mind and she would wake up thinking about them. In a very real way, her goal of making the college diving team affected nearly every aspect of her life.
That was, until the spring semester of her senior year. You see, after the conclusion of the Nebraska high school diving season and the State competition, she was unfortunately notified that she would not be receiving the diving scholarship she desperately desired. She had poured her heart and her soul into realizing that goal, but it had vanished. Needless to say, Rachel was heart-broken.
And her life changed dramatically overnight! Once she came to grasp that it was not meant to be, her life changed radically. Suddenly, she began spending more time with her friends – not only after school, but also staying out later and later. She started ordering cheeseburgers and soda instead of salads and water (which made us feel better about ourselves, by the way). She began sleeping in on weekends instead of hitting the gym at 6 in the morning. It was almost as if she had a completely different life before and after the birth and death of her goal.
The truth is that goals move us and goals shape us. What we most desire to accomplish (or become) affects our lives in very important ways. It impacts what we think about. And it changes the way we spend our time, our money, and our energy. In short, it brings definition to the lives that we live.
What then, with the one life that you have to live, do you most desire to accomplish?
It is my contention that few people desire riches and possessions above everything else. In fact, when asked the question above, rare is the man or woman who responds by saying, “I just want to own as much stuff as possible.”
Instead, most heart responses will center on significance, relationships, impact, happiness, love, or faith. And the more often we intentionally remind ourselves of our heart’s deepest desires, the more often our lives will align with that pursuit… and the more likely we are to actually accomplish them.