Know Where You Are Headed
I don’t know if you feel the same, but I’m sick of hearing that “life is a journey” and that “it’s about the journey, not the destination”. These cliches do very little good for anyone and more that’s likely believing them can actually hold someone back from achievement. I agree that it is important to be mindful of what you are experiencing in the moment and be grateful for the experiences we have in life, but I would argue that if life is a journey, all journeys should have a destination. In other words, there should be a direction or a target in which you set out to reach or you will end up aimless and drifting though life. In my experience, the majority of unhappy people are not unhappy because they failed to reach a goal or hit a target. They are unhappy because they have no idea what they want, where they are headed and feel like they have no control over what is happening in their life. In other words, if you don’t set a destination for your journey, life will happen TO YOU, not FOR YOU.
While hitting targets and reaching goals is important for a sense of fulfillment and importance, I would suggest the real power lies in setting the goal, not reaching it. Making a decision about the direction your life is headed in shows yourself and others that you have agency in your own existence. It’s not possible to always achieve every goal we set due to unforeseen circumstances that are outside our control. But missing a target is much better for a sense of well being that having to target at all. Aimlessness is a tragedy that will throw your life off track. Having a sense of purpose and direction is vital to feeling alive and happy in my opinion. That is why we must be careful about internalizing platitudes that are perpetuated online if they allow us to rationalize away the fact that we have not decided what we want from life. We have to decide what we ask from life.
I admit that it is difficult to know exactly what we want in life at all times. This is especially true when we are young. But having a general sense of what makes us happy and what type of life we would like is important. If you have no idea what you want from life and your philosophy is that “you are just here to enjoy the ride” or some other similar philosophy, I can guarantee you that at the very least you will continually wonder what your purpose is and you will often be at the mercy of others who have a created a plan for their life. Of course, plans change and destinations must be adjusted or postponed for external events- that’s just life. But that doesn’t mean we should give up on setting goals and targets for ourselves. These are essential for our well being. If life is a truly a journey, it would do us all well to remember the final destination is death. It is up to you to decide what destinations you’d like to see along the way before the journey ends.