Are Goals Really Helpful?

Since this blog is all about inspiration and motivation and why some people reach their goals and others don’t, I write often about my personal goals – which are numerous and documented in multiple lists.

My husband doesn’t really have goals. There are a few things he’d like to do, and he accomplishes plenty. He just never sits down and thinks about what he would like to achieve and how he is going to manage to do it.

Early in our marriage, I decided to return to college and get a degree, so that I could get a “dream job.” I asked what he wanted to do, what his “dream job” would be. He said, “I don’t know. I never really thought about it.” I couldn’t believe it, and started asking about 5 million questions, trying to decide for him what he wanted to do.

He thought it was funny and said something like, “Work sucks. All work sucks. There is no such thing as a dream job. You just have to go to work and it’s going to suck.” I felt sorry for him, and was naively secure in the knowledge that it was possible to look forward to work everyday because you love what you do.

Fast forward 8 years. My sweet husband has accidentally stumbled across his dream job. He works for a very small company, building custom furniture. He loves his boss, his co-workers, what he does…he looks forward to work everyday and feels regret when he has to take a day off. No hardcore pursuit of any goal was necessary. It just happened. He still works there – he’s been there for about 12 years now – and still loves it.

I got the degree I wanted so badly, and was working at Blockbuster. Before that, I taught for a few years, and thought that was my dream job. It wasn’t. I couldn’t handle the politics of the public school system and couldn’t survive on the pay at a private school. So I was working at Blockbuster, enduring crazy customers and terrible hours.

By this point our positions were completely reversed. I was convinced I would never find a job that I even liked, much less loved, and he had realized there are jobs you can look forward to everyday. He was giving me pep talks about being patient and “letting it happen.”

It’s hard describe how hard it is for a very goal-oriented person to “let it happen.”

I went through a series of not-great jobs, all the time looking for a “great” job. I applied at every company in Chattanooga that seemed appealing, and at quite a few that were definitely unappealing. I went to lots of interviews and after every one thought, “I could do that. It would be fun.” Then I would spend some time imagining myself working at whichever company, and thinking about how great it would be – even if it was doing something decidedly outside my comfort zone. I even applied at a bank – in case you don’t know me, I struggle to count, much less add. At one point I really wanted to become a travel agent as I love to travel and like the idea of teaching others how to make the most of the journeys they go on, but there just weren’t any opportunities available that ticked the other boxes I needed, like location and working hours.

I had all but given up on the idea I would ever have a job I enjoyed and was working on learning how to make my life outside of work so fulfilling it wouldn’t matter. I decided to start writing much more. I started learning about sites like Twitter and Facebook and trying to be more sociable in an effort to develop new friendships and strengthen old ones.

Then the idea for SmilingTree Writing came to me slowly and I saw a way to create my own job, instead of waiting for someone to give it to me. Now, I’m back on the “dream jobs do exist” side of the argument.

The question is, could I have arrived at just this point without all the angst and worry and goal-setting? Should I abandon my lists and objectives in favor of “letting it happen?” Will I arrive at the same place anyway?

What about you? Do you set goals, or are you one of the lucky laid-back people?

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