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3 Tricks to Create Goals That Last

Updated: Apr 12, 2023

Growth is a huge part of life. It is with the deepest essence of our nervous systems to desire better skills, stronger relationships, improved appearance or better status. There is no use feeling shameful for wanting more - this is how your brain has been wired for the past 60 000 years so an effort to deny this part of you is going to be quite stressful.

There are, however some quite simple ways to teach your mind how to create growth that is meaningful. You see, your brain really has two functions. To thrive and survive (grow) or conserve calories (recover/replenish). The root of everything you do is based around these two principles.

We can learn about this from a guy I once knew called Ken. Ken was a total ladies man, he would go to bars and have a way with women that would only be mirrored in movies. To an outsiders perspective, Ken had it all. He was a good looking guy who could have anyone he wanted, a good career in marketing and a nice apartment. For those of us that knew Ken well, we knew this wasn’t the case. He was deeply insecure and had no idea what he wanted to do with his life. He would always talk about changing his career, move around from city to city and suffered from depression which he attributed to a lack of certainty about what he wanted in life. Over the years, this depression grew. He was still great with he girls but would always put on an alter ego. You see, Ken valued two things more than anything else; firstly, his ability to pick up women and look like a ‘ladies man’. Secondly, that he was always always closely connected with ‘the boys’ for the weekend boozing.

It’s your values that will drive you. So while Ken’s values looked like the bees knees from an external point of view, internally they were creating a lot of uncertainty and insecurity. You see, if you’re values are externally driven, you really don’t have any control over what happens in your life. Ken would have absolutely no control over whether girls liked him that night or if the boys would meet for beers. These values are also doomed to fail with age.

They say people sometimes need to hit rock bottom before a real shift can happen. We’re talking about the deepest shift in your very soul - like when alcoholics lose their house and family. Well, Ken ended up at Emergency one night. There was a series of events where he had got mixed with a group of people who were dealing drugs and he had been a bit flirty with one of the girls at a party. This, I think was Ken’s rock bottom. He almost lost use of his arms and legs from an injury to his upper neck and the recovery was two months of quite intensive physio. At the deepest level, Ken was a kind and caring guy, he learned compassion for people who had suffered spinal cord injuries (as there is often very limited funding). This took him into a career shift where he began a marketing company to support people who had suffered spinal cord injuries. He shifted his driving values from external (girls and status) into internal (compassion). He’s now healthy and lives with his wife and is still close with the boys when they get a chance.

So what are the takeaways that we can we learn from Ken?

  1. Values that are externally driven will often lead to insecurities and uncertainty. These will be short lived goals.

  2. Meaningful goals are often intrinsically driven an based around helping others, these will last a lifetime.

  3. Relationships that are built from external values are often shallow and short lived. As people follow a meaningful life, they will develop strong and lasting relationships.

  4. The boys really don’t care if you can pick up a girl. If they do, they’re not really your friends.

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