Why Are We So Obsessed With Goals?

We live in a goal-oriented society. Our lives are basically shaped for us by our economic structures, cultural values and familial expectations. In the fast-paced climate of a capitalist economy, we are almost trained to prepare for the next step before we are finished the step that we are currently on. We become non-stop, rampant machines that work to spew out anything necessary that will help us to achieve our next goal. It almost seems like our lives are supposed to follow the same pattern: go to university, get a job, get married, have children, retire and then die. Small talk reduces into nothing more than a discussion about schooling, professional goals and family aspirations. As dull and bleak as it sounds, I feel the social norms pushing me into this repetitive cycle along with everyone else.

But what happens when all we think about are our goals, our next life chapter? What happens when we can’t enjoy our senior prom because we are too busy planning our course schedules for university? What happens when the dread of unemployment looms over us our entire university career? What happens when we can’t enjoy married life because all we want is children? It’s almost like these goals hold such a tremendous weight on us that we become them. The space between each objective is used to prepare for the next one. We start to become to wrapped up in some imaginary future, that we remove ourselves from the present. Being proactive is important, but sometimes it feels like our whole life will pass by us if all we ever do is work towards our next goal. Sometimes it feels as though our life events have become reduced to nothing more then the next tick on that check box that plans out our entire life.

Why can’t we deviate from these plans? Why can’t we choose to embrace “the now” instead of constantly working towards the “next thing”? More importantly, what is the point of striving towards one thing, if you know that once you have it, all you will be focused on is achieving the next?

Goals are important, they are how we structure our lives and channel our ambitions. I think that it is when we give them so much power in our lives, that it is all we work towards. We tend to lose sight of what our lives can offer us right now, in this moment.