To be honest, I've forgotten nearly everything in that book except for a small segment from his interview with Ted Turner (yes, THAT Ted Turner). That small segment is something that has stuck with me forever; something Ted Turner said about goals in the interview. I don't remember the words, of course, but I remember the concept: it's important not only to have goals, but to have different types of goals. What hit home with me specifically was Ted Turner discussing the importance of having goals you'll never accomplish. This was a new concept to me and intrigued me to no end. Now that so many years have passed I've had lots of time to digest the concept and I'm thinking just maybe I can finally elaborate on it in my own words.
I believe now I fully understand what Ted Turner meant by having different types of goals-and why you must have them. You may categorize your different types of goals however you choose of course (there's no "right" way to do it), but for myself I prefer to keep it simple by having only two categories of goals: those I'm likely to accomplish, and those I'm NOT likely to accomplish. It seems to me goals are often thought of as short and long-term, but that doesn't quite cut it for me personally.
Over the years, goals I'm likely to accomplish seem to not differ too much from tasks; I tend to keep them small, short, and sweet. For example, coming up with a melody for a new song by the time I get home from a drive might be one of these goals; or maybe having the laundry folded before the football game starts. It's important to note I don't place written-in-stone deadlines for these things-they remain goals that I'm likely to accomplish. If I accomplish them I feel good to have them done; if I don't, then I establish another new goal that I'm likely to accomplish to take its place. The key here is that either way I keep negativity at bay using this method-I don't get down on myself and become despondent. I suspect some may see this as a way to excuse "slacking"-and perhaps it technically IS. Nevertheless this method has proven itself effective time after time, over many years for me. So the idea here is that by giving myself the freedom to change goals at the drop of a hat, I end up being far more efficient and productive-I spend less time thinking about doing things and more time actually doing them. And I spend ZERO time getting down on myself because I've already moved on--too busy working on that next goal that I'm likely to accomplish. Slack-ish as this concept may sound, it turns out (just as my name for these goals would imply) that the vast majority of these goals do in fact get accomplished. The ones I haven't accomplished haven't killed me or jacked up my life to this point.
A side note on deadlines: I recognize of course that there are deadlines in our lives, but in my mind those deadlines belong to someone else-not me. I don't make deadlines for myself...ever! I can choose to live by or not live by someone else's deadlines, but I never carry the weight of a given deadline myself because it's not my own. This may sound like a silly thing to say, but personal experience has shown me that this has a HUGE impact on one's psyche-it keeps you in power-keeps you in control of your life (as best as we humans are able to control our lives-I'm an existentialist by nature). You are making choices to go along with someone's deadline (or not to) as opposed to feeling like you "have" to do this or that. You are not trapped or stuck. This matters.
So in a nutshell, goals I'm likely to accomplish are the pedals on a bike-they keep me going on a daily (or even momentary) basis; keep me moving, efficient, productive, and generally positive. If my foot slips off the pedal for a second it doesn't mean I'm going to crash; just means I have to reset my foot upon the pedal--which I can do even while the bike is still moving. Anyway, on with the other type of goals I have:
The beauty of goals I'm not likely to accomplish lies in just that--I'm not likely to accomplish them. So guess what? They can be as absurd, realistic, meaningful or meaningless as I choose--it really doesn't matter. Approaching it from this angle frees up my mind for limitless possibilities. There are no rules when one chooses to look at it this way--absolutely anything is fair game. I'm not likely to ever build a device that will magically transport me to the lost city of Atlantis, but what's to stop me from setting a goal like that? You may say to this web page right now even "Exactly! Why set a ridiculous goal that you can't accomplish? It's stupid and a waste of time." To which I'd say, because I don't believe in the impossible: only the likely and the unlikely. I'm thinking most of you would have thought it impossible 50 years ago if someone suggested they'd have a computing device in their pocket more powerful than our defense system's supercomputer would have been at the time. Fact is, we don't know what the future holds, what knowledge and technology will become available to us in the decades to come.
As you might infer, this is really the key to my creative flow--keeps me from getting "blocked." In all sincerity I don't see why there couldn't be a device to transport a person to Atlantis, and further, why I couldn't be the one to build it. I probably won't (heck, going to Atlantis isn't even a passion of mine), but that is why I file it under goals I'm not likely to accomplish. Not doing it isn't going to hurt my confidence/self-esteem in the least. It was just an idea, right? And maybe a song or two comes out of just considering the extremely remote possibility of such a thing. Who knows?
The other important benefit of goals that I'm not likely to accomplish is that it gives me a reason to keep working hard, trying to grow (mentally, spiritually, and otherwise), and ultimately to keep living my life. If I only set goals for myself that I'm likely to accomplish, there's a reasonable chance that someday they'd all be accomplished--all my work would be done and I'd have nothing left to live for. I'd no longer have a reason to grow or work hard--or even get out of bed.
You see, the more years I spend accomplishing "little" goals I'm likely to accomplish, the more the absurd "not-likely-to-be-accomplished" goals gain a measure of reality--they become more possible (in my mind, at least). This is the engine and the fuel that keep me moving through life. One can't work toward a goal (no matter how absurd it is) without at least thinking of it.
I'll let you in on a little secret of mine as I elaborate on this: writing and recording more songs than the duo of Mick Jagger & Keith Richards is one of my actual goals--filed under "not likely to be accomplished" of course. When I first created this goal for myself a couple of years ago it seemed HIGHLY unlikely, though not impossible. Since then, a couple of years have passed, I've gone through books of songs I've written and discovered that Atomic Honey has recorded over 100 songs in the last 3 years--all of which I've written. That's 33 songs/year. If we continue at this pace we'd complete over 300 songs each decade. I haven't done the research to determine just how many songs Jagger & Richards wrote yet, but when I set this goal I was guessing somewhere in the vicinity of 600. That's two decades in Atomic Honey time. I honestly can't see any reason why (short of debilitating, chronic illness or death) I wouldn't keep writing and recording songs for the next 20 years (there's a reasonable chance it'll go on a lot longer than that), so I think you can see where I've gone with this. What was once a goal I'm not likely to accomplish now has a semblance of being "doable." This is because of all the "likely-to-be-accomplished" goals that I've accomplished, just a little bit at a time, without there ever being any pressure or personal deadlines.
This blog has gone on much longer than I intended, and I really appreciate those of you that stuck with it to the end. I'm hoping some of you will find some of these thoughts useful in your own life--whatever your walk of life or passions may be. I'm no expert or even a college graduate; just a dude that's been around the block a few times and have managed to pick up a few tricks along the way. As always, feel free to comment below any way your heart might compel you to and thank you again for your love and support!