“In the long run men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, though they should fail immediately, they had better aim at something high.”
-- Henry David Thoreau
-- Henry David Thoreau
The first thing that came to mind was that I don't think goals are as necessary as all that in my new way of thinking. Then it dawned on me. I realized something that a friend of mine, Curtis, has said to me on a number of occasions at AFS functions. But I didn't really grasp his message until this moment.
Most people are so busy trying to be successful (in this I mean the traditional definitions of success), that they are missing the big picture. My lightbulb moment, back in October of '09, when I found my passion drummer, had me thinking that I didn't need goals anymore. The first part of Thoreau's quote (above) hits on that. We only hit what we aim for. And my thought on that was that we LIMIT ourselves by only following the goals we've set for ourselves. But I think what Curtis was trying to tell me was that I have a goal still, it's just different from my old goals. My goal now is happiness.
While success has a very different meaning to me now in the realm of the passion drummer, than it did in the goal-oriented world I once lived, I do acknowledge now that I'm still "technically" focused on a goal. The goal however is extremely simplistic. Deceptively so, I might add. The goal is: "Have Fun" or perhaps "Be Happy." Now, I'm not trying to be cheeky here. It's really that simple. And it works. I've seen it, and am just now experiencing full circle, and I have to say it's amazing, almost effortless after you get into the swing of this mindset. I feel like a "get rich quick" salesperson as I say this, but the fact of the matter is that I'm not selling anything except an idea. And that idea is that you can be happy without all the trapping of traditional success, or maybe even IN SPITE OF all the trappings of traditional success. Money doesn't buy you happiness. Success doesn't buy you happiness. Why? Because it's the other way around. Happiness IS success.
So, back to Thoreau's quote. Paraphrased. You only hit what you aim for. So you better aim high.
What dawned on me is that my goal is now single-minded: to have "fun." All I want to do is enjoy life, to be happy. I don't really care how much money I make, or what car I drive, or what neighborhood I live in (although if I have the means, I do enjoy comfort and luxury just like everyone else, but I don't "need" it to be happy/successful). I also don't really care if I'm doing what other people think I should be doing, oh say like getting my Master's Degree, or starting my own business, or being a better parent, or getting married, or focusing on something (any one thing) and stop taking so many damned classes on so many damned subjects. I don't care. I will do what makes me happy. I will do what I think is right. I have a moral compass just like everyone else, and I will do what I need to do for me to be happy, for me to enjoy waking up each morning, for me to look forward to tomorrow and not regret yesterday. How? It didn't happen overnight obviously, and I think I've been on this journey for longer than just 2009 the Year of Happiness, but I don't think I was ready for 2009 the Year of Happiness until 2009. What I did was remake my life, my world, into something that excites me, that I can be passionate about. Is every element of my life bliss? Hell no. As my friend, Roger, so eloquently put it: "you still have to take out the garbage every Thursday." No one finds passion in taking the trash to the curb each week (I hope that's fair to say), but it's a maintenance task of life, like many of the things we do repeatedly, which may, for many of us living in or coming from the goal-oriented world, include our work/jobs.
Look for people that you know that absolutely LOVE their work, not just fake it well, but really truly LOVE it. You'll know these people by your intense desire to smack them for their cheeriness when you're having a bad day...sorry, Roger! Those people have been dancing to their passion drummer, or more succinctly been making choices that allow them to have fun and be happy for most, if not all, of their adult lives. These people have jobs they love, not usually because they focused on a goal and accomplished it (say going to school to learn a profession and a lot of grueling hard work) but because they led a life of passion and they put out that passionate energy into the universe with every step they took and (since we reap what we sow) it came back to them in the form of opportunities that they loved, work they loved, and people they loved to be around.
So I agree with Thoreau's quote ultimately. But I believe aiming high means to look at today and make choices that make YOU happy, do things that YOU find fun, focus on things YOU have passion for, and find new and unusual ways of dealing with the other stuff (those maintenance tasks of life) so they no longer rule your world (and make you unhappy in the process). If you do that everyday, your life with be transformed. Maybe not this month, or even this year, but it will be transformed, and you will be happier.
I used to think it was selfish and irresponsible and immature and all kinds of negative things when I heard messages like this, and you might feel that way too. But I can tell you from experience that I was tied into a life that I hated and was putting me into an early grave from the stress of it all, and I saw literally no way out, even after years of psychotherapy trying to determine why I my life was the way it was. But now, I'm happy. I made hard decisions that didn't make me popular with a lot of people in my life, but those people weren't very happy anyway. The people that really mattered understood what I was doing and why, even when I wasn't sure myself. Those people are happy, and are happy for me. Those were the "keepers" and they are still a part of my life. And I'm better because of them.
Do I still have negative people in my life? Yes. However, those people are limited in my world, and I cut them off when they start pouring their negative waters into my boat. I don't need it and I don't want it and I don't have to take it and I don't care what other people think of me for saying that. Yes, I'll help people in need, those that know me know that I'm the person they can call when they have something really unpleasant that they need to work through. But negativity is another animal, like cancer and I don't cultivate friendships with anyone that swims in those waters. The people I'm attracted to now are passionate, fun and happy, and they are attracted to my passion as well. I'm so happy to be where I am and I hope that I can help you find what I stumbled upon with my passion drummer.
So in the spirit of Thoreau, aim high, aim high TODAY. Find ways to be happy. Find fun. Find a little happiness in this day. It's there, you just need to find it. Do it today, tomorrow, and next week. Keep doing it. Focus on fun. Cultivate fun. Don't forget your "day job" (or you might get fired) but don't let those maintenance tasks of life consume you and bring you down any more. Focus on the stuff that gets you excited. Before you know it, you'll have a job that's more bearable (and it may even be the job/industry you're in now believe it or not!). You'll have friends that make you feel great. You'll have days filled with passion. And the universe will provide you with new and unexpected ways to continue exploring your passions. And your goals will no longer be self-limiting. Try it out. Give it time. Cultivate the mindset. Success in Happiness is worth it.