In a recent girl&duck museletter (and podcast), I spoke about ‘curiosity’ as a preference to ‘motivation’. How, over time, certain words lose their charm and others slide in to take their place.
No one talks much about motivation anymore. At least, not in my circles. It’s a cringey word that carries some dated, 1980s baggage.
If you want to listen to that podcast (it’s short, about six minutes) just click here.
Meantime, I’m always observing myself. I am the Gerald Durrell of my own life, my own creativity. Why? Because I love writing to you, dear reader! When I have a win, when I find a niftier, happier, more luscious way to live or create, I get in down on paper and I hit SHARE.
Which leads me to goal setting.
No! Don’t groan. I will not stand for it! Just bear with me .
Setting goals might feel sooo yesterday, so patriarchal, so old paradigm, so get-up-at-four-in-the-morning and crush that shit, old hat.
But it still has merit.
Goals give us direction and purpose and they lead us to seek guidance.
Note that: They lead us to seek guidance.
When we have goals, delicious goals we care deeply about, we’re more inclined to go out there and seek the guidance, support and knowledge that will help us achieve those goals.
And this is where the marrow is. This is where our lives, our talents, our souls, begin to expand. This is where we begin to thrive and blossom.
It’s not the goal, it’s the effort and focus we give the goal that enriches our lives.
In other (more prosaic) words, it’s not the destination its the journey that nourishes us.
The thing to watch out for, the thing that has given goals a bad reputation, is that goals can turn into carrots. Lovely, rich, juicy carrots that offer the world—but can end up tasting like wood.
If we’re not careful, goals can turn us into bad tempered, cross-eyed donkeys.
Overvalued and unfettered, goals can seduce us into future-tripping, into obsessing about our shiny, bright ‘one day’ — while overlooking the joy and majesty and astonishing gift that is our ‘everyday’ life.
We’re taught to believe our goals are the big things in our lives, and that doing the dishes or making the bed or hugging the puppy are the small things.
We need to flip that.
In truth, it’s the little things that are the big things.
We need to enjoy our goals but prioritise our lives.
Goals, whether we achieve them or not, are not a measure of our self-worth—or a life well lived. We need to hold our goals lightly, with interest and curiosity. Move towards them with focus yes, but content in the knowledge that all of life happens in the NOW.
We must tend to the small things in our lives with reverence, while simultaneously floating towards our goals with the elegance and whimsy of a hot air balloon.
As Dumbledore once said to Harry, ‘It does not pay to dwell on dreams and forget to live.’
Nor does it pay to dwell on goals and forget to watch the sunrise.
Stay grounded—and keep floating, dear reader.
Until next time
PS Hey! Do you subscribe to my museletters? I write (almost) weekly! I share about my thoughts, ideas, creative processes and insights, and I always include ‘excerpts’ from my beloved Cottage Diaries. Jump on mailing list if you’d like to hear from me more often!