What are goals for?

My housemate often talks about goals and progress and working towards a goal.  I have never had goals at the center of my daily schedule or my life at all.  My approach has always been to sustain myself – physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually – and to take action when I notice a disturbance in one aspect or in the balance of aspects.  If I need more physical expression, I do some exercise, right then and there.  If I need more intellectual stimulation, I read a book or find a conversation to be in.  Each aspect can be addressed immediately, in some way, as long as you have a flexible work schedule or enough time to take breaks from what you are doing at the moment.  If you do not have a flexible work schedule, then simply make a note of what you want to do, and do it right after work.

Granted, I already have the benefit of having a stimulating job.  Now I am at a point where I want to (a) make more money and (b) have a larger impact on the world, and I find myself unsure how to move towards those quite broad and general goals.  In the past, it was the search for an enjoyable job that motivated me to continue building my resume, to continue networking for job contacts, and to be on the lookout constantly for opportunities.  In fact, I was always on the lookout, practically on edge, for five years after graduating from law school.  It was not a fun time.

I do not want to go back to that struggle.  I do want to improve my situation.  I suppose that I have been focusing on short-term mental and physical well-being because it was all that I had to rely on during those years of wandering and job searching.  Basic stability was the most I could hope for, and was not easy to achieve, in part due to mild obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety.  Exercise became my primary method to promote mental calmness.  Exercise was the solution until I injured my foot.

For four years I have been trying to regain full use of my foot.  Although a minor injury in terms of severity, it has made everything harder – harder to work on my feet, harder to get cardiovascular exercise, harder to dance, harder to recover when I do work on my feet or go dancing for hours.  Recently, for the fourth or fifth time, I gave up on running because it was aggravating my foot, and my knee, and now my hip.  And after all this I wonder, how much of the foot pain is real?  One doctor said it may be a pinched nerve… meaning there is not any real damage there connected to the feeling of pain.  But if so, does it mean I should stop trusting my body’s way of telling me something is wrong?

The foot injury really made me have second thoughts about goals, because running a marathon and then some subsequent 5k and 10k races had been my goals that motivate me to continue running.  But if running causes an injury that hinders all aspects of your life, why would you keep that goal?  Point being, long-term goals seem short-sighted because you don’t know how things will change in the future.







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