August 23

The danger for most of us lies not
in setting our aim too high and falling
short, but in setting our aim too low,
and achieving our mark.

Michelangelo Buonarrati


Today's Meditation:

It is possible that it wasn't Michelangelo who actually said or wrote these words, but that's okay.  The words themselves are the important part, and it's basically another way of saying that if you aim for the treetops and reach them, then what?  But if you aim for the stars and reach only the heights of the sky, then you're still better off than if you were in the treetops.

I agree only partly with this idea, though.  I do believe that it's important that we set our sights high, that we create real challenges for ourselves that will force us to step out of our areas of comfort and push ourselves harder than we would without the lofty goals.  If we "settle," if we set our aim low--be it for a job, a spouse, a vacation, a new car--we could end up with a job we despise, a spouse who treats us poorly, a horrible vacation, a clunker of a car that's unreliable and costs more to maintain than a more expensive car would have.

On the other hand, I've learned from teaching over the last two decades that one of the most important things we can give ourselves in our efforts to improve ourselves is a series of successes--we must feel that we've accomplished something sometimes if we're to have the confidence to take on the next challenge, to learn the next thing, to accomplish the next project.  If our goal is to reach the stars and we never do so, then we never will have successfully reached goals we've set for ourselves, even though we had to accomplish a great deal to get where we did.

I've had students on the track team who could have trained with the best coaches in the world for years, and who still NEVER would have won state in their events.  And that's okay.  In working with them, we set goals for improving their times, for reaching personal records, for doing well in the regional meets and the invitationals-- even reaching the state meet sometimes.  We never would have set a goal of winning state because it simply wouldn't have come to pass.  Those students finish the track season having succeeded in most of their goals, and they have the experience of having set realistic goals and then doing the work necessary to achieve them.

We must be careful with our goals.  It is important to set our aim high, but it's also important to include goals that are very achievable so that we can keep track of our successes and know that we are moving forward and upward in life.

Questions to consider:

What are some of the dangers of setting our aim too high and then never reaching those goals?

What are some of  the dangers of setting our aim too low and then "settling" for something that's far below our potential?

Are goals important in the first place?  How do they help us in our lives?

For further thought:

Goals are simply tools to focus your energy in positive
directions; they can be changed as your priorities change,
new ones added, and others dropped.

O. Carl Simonton

More on goals.


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