Set Goals for Direction, not for Destination

Over 15 years ago, a book was written by Eduardo Ponset called “the formula for happiness”. I don’t remember the formula, but I do remember something that had great importance for me.

One of the elements of the formula was a “B” for “busqueda” – the spanish word for “searching”. The feeling you get when you are making positive progress towards a meaningful goal. Eduardo said that it was key to happiness.

Around the time of publishing, the author of the book was interviewed on local television. He shared a story about his little dog. Each day the author arrives home to his building, and must climb several flights of stairs up to his apartment on the 2nd floor. As soon as he enters the main door of the building, his dog starts to get excited… he hears some barking. As he climbs the stairs, the dog gets more and more excited.

As Eduardo gets to his door, and then opens his door… the dog is crazily excited, jumping all around and tail wagging wildly.

His dog knows that food is coming.

Eduardo enters the kitchen, opens the cupboard where the dog food is kept. The dog is at the door of the kitchen (he knows he is not allowed into the kitchen itself). The dog is jumping, barking and wagging in the doorway.

Eduardo fills the dog’s bowl with food, walks to the sitting room, places the dog’s bowl on the floor.

The dog sniffs his bowl… calms down… and then goes and lies down on his dog bed.

Where did all the excitement go?

The joy is in the pursuit, not in the attainment of our goals.

Set Goals for Direction, not for Destination

Set goals to get you moving. Don’t worry too much about the exact details… if the goal gives you a sense of which way to head… it is enough. Once we are in movement towards a goal, we start to learn, resources start to become visible, help comes our way… and a sense of clarity comes to us.

In the video I compare this to the life of a shark… a shark needs movement for water to flow over its gills… and to breath. If a shark stops swimming, its gills stop working… and it begins to suffocate.

A human is similar in that positive movement in the direction of our goals brings us clarity. We stop moving, we lose clarity.

Author: Conor Neill

Hi, I’m Conor Neill, an Entrepreneur and Teacher at IESE Business School. I speak about Moving People to Action.

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