The Art of Goal Setting in a World of Impermanence

The Art of Goal Setting in a World of Impermanence

a dream once dreamt but long forgotten

Once a farmer’s dream

“I have no news
of my coming
or passing away–
the whole thing
happened quicker
than a breath;
ask no questions
of the moth.”
فرید الدین عطار


What is a goal? A place to visit, an object to acquire, a project to begin or finish, a relationship to find or leave, a lifestyle to create or abandon – ours goals define who we are. You are being and becoming what you spend your time doing.

With so many goals, the moment of attainment is transitory, the journey lengthy. Winning a medal in a race, for example. The burst of speed, breath and adrenalin might last a single minute. The medal presentation is over in a few photographs. Revelling in the glory of finally reaching the nirvana of winning: one week, at best. And then back to the work of creating, onward to the next goal.

Life expended to reach that medal win may be years, half a lifetime. Effort and energy channelled into training, focussing, visioning, puffing and panting, calorie counting, investing in equipment and coaching, putting loved ones and friends on the back burner, prioritising one over others.

flowers consume steel

Slowly consumed by Nature

We are here, alive. What are we to do with our allotted time without a focus, a form of forward momentum? Sit idle on the verandah twiddling thumbs, soaking up our surroundings, contemplating the nature of existence? Anyone who has spent any amount of life doing this knows that before long, an idea springs forth, an inspiration will well up from the peace within, a fresh focus will suddenly appear genie-like. We are free to ignore such inspiration …

But if it is allowed to grow and thrive in the mind and body, the seed will take root and begin to reach for the sun. In a the time it takes for a satellite to cross the night sky, you’re no longer in contemplation, you’re in forward motion, reaching for another goal, offering precious life-force in the pursuit of a glittering future time when inspiration is realised, attained, celebrated and then, ultimately, forgotten, overgrown by memory and experience.

Tell me, what else should I have done? Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Mary Oliver

no longer for loading cattle

Cattle load no longer

It is easy to become someone no longer recognised by the knowing at your core. Goals that require abandonment of values, or are misaligned with who you are at the heart of your very being cause stress. Feelings of purpose and well-being shrivel. Life becomes a plodding affair, blinkers firmly fastened, feet dragging.

I reach for experience. For those fleeting moments of growth, wonder, and oneness with the mysteries of the universe. Who am I whilst I wander between my goals? Am I lost?

I am alive, growing even when it seems nothing is happening. Wonder lives within reach. Oneness can be hard to find. Sometimes it finds me when I have quite forgotten why I long for it.

Spend an hour reading quotes about life purpose and discover the almost infinite perspectives that exist. There is no consensus on how we must live. Follow what is alive in the creative core of your being. You are the only one who knows your deepest nature. And if you have forgotten, sit on the verandah, twiddle your thumbs, soak up your surroundings, until the boredom is unbearable, or the silence infinite.

was this my goal?

Becoming structure for life to thrive upon

Then listen for the genie’s whisper. What arises is yours alone. Grand or ordinary, water the seed, not knowing how tall it will grow, or the space it longs to inhabit. It draws you into becoming, caring not for the end point, but only the moments along the way.


“Nothing in the world is permanent, and we’re foolish when we ask anything to last, but surely we’re still more foolish not to take delight in it while we have it.” ― W. Somerset Maugham


  1. Beautiful Pollyanna!

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