Setting the Direction
Most career counselors make choosing a goal in life our most important decision. I differ. Choosing the direction is more important than the goal. Our mature success comes in the direction we move, not in the goals we attain. Goals are more impressive, but direction is more satisfying.
Harvard Business School found many of their bright students learned to solve problems rather than identify opportunities. Setting goals is secondary to setting direction.
I oppose setting an ultimate tangible, measurable, quantitative goal for one's life. Too many people reach the goal and find the joy was in the journey, not the arrival. "Is this all there is" is the natural response to those who set a title, an income, a financial networth, or possession as the goal.
Goals are set to confirm we are moving in the direction we desire. They are the road markers, not the destinations.
I prefaced my decision about life I wanted by visiting a graveyard and thinking about what is really important in life. When young people ask me for advice on finding a direction I ask, "Do you want to be useful or self-fulfilled? As long as they see these as opposites, it is going to be difficult for them to have a mature view of life. There is great truth in the paradox of the lost life as the found life. Being useful to others is the best way to receive fulfillment.
The best way to be useful is to use the talent we have been given. What we do well is sometimes so natural it is often overlooked. We are troubled calling something work that is easy and pleasant. If a person is talented in several areas, it becomes difficult to discern the key uniqueness. I ask them, "How do you want to be recognized by others? What do you feel most worthwhile in doing? What do you feel strong enough about to perfect? What do you enjoy completely, even the details?"
Then I ask, "What do you want for your epitaph?" for those are the words that ultimately identify the direction.
This week think about: 1) What do I want my epitaph to say? 2) How pleased am I with my direction? 3) Where am I deriving my greatest satisfaction?
Words of Wisdom: "The best way to be useful is to use the talent we have been given."
Wisdom from the Word: "'For I know what I have planned for you,' says the Lord 'I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope.'" (Jeremiah 29:11 NET Bible)
Reprinted with permission from Fred Smith on Encouragement Wired