When you want something, you create expectations for how and when you’ll receive it. The problem with this is that our expectations are rarely met. Sometimes this is a good thing and we encounter happy accidents, but more often, we’re just disappointed – especially in our careers.
The Problem With Goals
One of the most important things I learned about myself as a writer is that my dreams are not reality. You likely recognize this truth too.
But probably not this one: your goals aren’t reality either.
We all have blind spots, and our expectations are founded on desire. That desire comes from a position of fundamental scarcity, which means we don’t have everything we need to fully comprehend how to effectively accomplish our goals.
This is why we create goals which we can’t manifest in the real world. We’re focused on a future orientation instead of the present moment, so we don’t act on knowledge, but fantasy.
Keep Dreaming, But Wake Up in the Morning
Don’t get me wrong: you should have dreams and goals, but you should also be mindful of how you create them.
The missing piece is experience.
For years, I dreamed of becoming a novelist. The more I read, the more I narrowed in on my “niche.” But as time passed, I couldn’t sit down and finish my stories.
Because my dream of becoming a novelist was based on expectation, not experience. I believed I wanted to be a fiction writer, so I created what seemed to be concrete and achievable goals to get there.
And the truth is, those goals were “realistic” to someone who enjoyed writing novels.
As much as I loved reading novels, I didn’t enjoy writing them. So I was at a loss for years as to why I couldn’t just sit down and write.
Then I realized I was enamored with nonfiction writing.
My favorite part of college was writing essays. It was my zen. But I didn’t accept that this was my writing path because I had already created the expectation that I would become a novelist.
Shift Your Mindset
Most people create goals based on expectations and not experience. You want something, so you look at your current life and the life you want like point a and point b. But making effective goals isn’t just creating a productive formula that you choose to follow.
That plan is not a straight line. There will be obstacles. And you will discover things about yourself that challenge your commitment to any goal. This is because we live in fantasy and not reality.
Therefore, you need to learn from experience and not expectation. To shift your mindset, you need to live in the present and be mindful of who you are and not who you want to be.
How to Change Your Life
One of the best ways to do this is to track your time and reflect on your day.
For instance, I assumed I read more fiction than nonfiction, but when I tracked my daily tasks, I learned, from experience, that almost everything I chose to read was nonfiction. I just wasn’t counting it because it didn’t match my expectation of who I “wanted” to be. When I reflected on this, I came to understand and accept that I’m hungry for knowledge. I also enjoy organizing what I learn through writing. No wonder I’m a better fit for nonfiction than novels!
I still dream and I dream big, but the way I approach goals is different now. Because of that, I’m a far more productive writer.
Keep dreaming, but as you create goals, have perspective on your daily life. How do you feel when you do certain things? Reflect often and modify your approach. If you do this, you won’t be creating goals based on false expectations, but the real and present experience of how you enjoy living.