The danger of living for your goals
I’m on a biography-reading spree - now I’m on to Ted Turner’s Call me Ted. The audiobook is amazing, narrated by the man himself (I’m on the abridged version).
There’s a story in there about his father. Just as he’s reached the peak of his career and achieved everything he’d dreamed of - a yacht and a plantation and a million dollar business - his mood swings worsened, he became depressed, he put on a lot of weight and starting drinking heavily.
He said that having now checked off each of these goals, he was having a really tough time reevaluating things and coming up with a plan for the rest of his life.
He then told me something I’ve never forgotten. He said, “Son, you be sure to set your goals so high that you can’t possibly accomplish them in one lifetime. That way you’ll always have something ahead of you. I made the mistake of setting my goals too low and now I’m having a hard time coming up with new ones.”
Just a few days later I got another call from South Carolina, but this time it was my stepmother, Jane. Dad was dead. After Jimmy Brown had served him and Jane a relaxed breakfast, my father walked up to his bathroom, climbed into the tub, and shot himself.
I think there’s a better way. Rather than setting your goals so high you can’t reach them, learn to love right now.
The breakdown occurs because he’d been striving to reach this place because he thought it would make him feel safe. Because his parents had suffered a big loss in the great depression.
But having gathered all this stuff, he became intensely scared of losing it.
If you’re scared, you’ll be scared regardless of your level of material wealth.
Work on the fear, not the wealth.
Work on the fear, not on the thing you think will relieve the fear.
The fear will tell you it’s because you don’t have enough money in the bank.
But you’ll never have enough money in the bank for the fear, because it’s not what it’s really about. It’s a process that is trying to protect you, but instead is hurting you, and it’s completely independent of outer circumstances. It just uses whatever is there to feed itself. It is context-free.
Have visions, dreams, goals. I like visions and dreams better than goals - they’re more fluid. But goals have their place.
Just make sure that you don’t live your life for what you think achieving that goal will give you, emotionally. Because theres’ a pretty good chance it won’t. Never could, never will.
Please don’t end up shooting yourself. You’re much too valuable and lovable for that.
We love you just the way you are. No need to prove anything.