The Goal is Sustainable

I was chatting with a friend about goals and their helpfulness. Mostly because of a post from ZenHabits this week. The post basically said that life without goals can lead to a life full of content. It was a good post, but I have a major complaint with it: I don’t think it is sustainable.

Being happy and stress-free is great! I like truly lazy Sundays as much as the next person – you know, the ones where you actually have nothing to do. But there is also a way that being under stress excites me and meeting goals energizes me that is even better than feeling laid-back.

And the thing is that stress helps us survive. Not, of course, the stress that puts rocks in your stomach and makes you yell at people like you are like Alec Baldwin being told to turn off your Words with Friends game, but the stress that motivates you to get out of bed each day to find something to eat and then go to the bathroom and then find a sexual partner. Goals help us manage that stress.

And goals might be something you can get rid of if your one dream is to write a book. After all, who really cares when your book gets finished? But how many of us would want President Obama to give up goals? I want my leaders to have articulated initiatives. It is true that not all of us will be president, but many of us will be parents, leaders, CEOs, teachers, or managers. How can you lead others when they don’t know what you expect of them? I don’t think you can. And goals are the way we communicate expectations and hopes and dreams to others.

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