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From the Rat Race to Financial Freedom... A common man's journey
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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Are you chasing your goals or merely its means?

Have we got mixed up between our goals and the means to achieve those goals? Most of us have. Wake up before time runs out !...

Unhappy and frustrated with recent exam results at school, my elder one was desperately looking forward to something that could soothe her mind. It is not only about kids and exams, it could be you and your career, you and your business, your life, your relations, your passion. Whatever be it, in most cases we seemed to have mixed up between our life's goals and the means to achieve  those goals. Don't believe me? Look out for yourself.

"Dad, now don’t tell me that results do not matter. I know that efforts are more important. But still I am not feeling good...", said a disappointed Arushi.

"Well, the fact is that results do matter. However, they are not in our control. Our efforts also matter. The beauty with focusing on the efforts is that efforts are always in our control. In any case, let me share with you a story of one of my friends in United States - that should probably make you feel better..."

"William Richards was one of my colleagues when we were in USA. We call him Bill. And you know people there - they are so fond of taking long breaks from the mundane job, and going on for adventures like biking, hiking, boating, flying, and what not."

"Ah ! Those US days...", remarked Arushi with a glee in her eyes.

"Yeah...so, this guy – Bill, took a three week vacation after we signed a new contract with the client. All of us had worked very hard for this, and we all deserved a break. Bill decided to walk up the mountains."

"Ok...Is it around the same time we went to Disney World?", inquired Arushi.

"Yes, exactly, we also took that 3 week break..OK, so when Bill was back after 3 weeks, he explained me about an incident that was strangely disturbing for him."

"What was that?"

"Bill told me that during one of the days, when he was climbing one of the toughest peaks. That day was particularly rough for him. He had been climbing since last 6 hours and it was late in the afternoon already. He was literally sweating in the snow, his legs were paining, his shoulders were aching...He was finding it really tough. But of course, he did not have a choice at that time. While all that was happening, he heard noise of a helicopter quite close to him. When the sound of the whirling helicopter blades increased further, he just looked up and was amazed to see what he saw."

"What was there?"

"It was one of his  friends and his neighbour Ronnie on the helicopter...Ronnie was a rich man, also fond of mountains."

"Ah ok.."

"They waived at each other, and then Ronnie shouted that he was going to the M4 peak...Bill said he was too..."

"OK..."

Ronnie then waived Bill to come over to the helicopter and he offered to throw the ladder down to pick him up. Bill was confused whether he should take this offer.
"C’mon Bill. We have the same goal. We can use his helicopter as a means to achieve this goal faster. What are you thinking? I started just 15 min back and we will be there at the M4 peak in next 5 minutes."

"Then, did Bill accept his friends offer?"

"No, Bill did not. And whether Bill accepted the offer or not is irrelevant. The strange part was this. At that moment, Bill said that he definitely felt very frustrated, sad and hopeless."

"That’s obvious Dad...Bill has been climbing for hours together and was in pain. His friend did all that in 15 minutes - just because his friend could afford to rent a helicopter."

"It is not obvious my child. It is the core issue.”

“Issue, what issue?”

“Here is what the issue us. If Bill felt sad seeing his friend go past him and reach the peak in no time with least effort, then I am sorry to say that Bill has got completely messed up with his goals and the means to achieve the goal."

"How?"

"OK. what do you think was Bill’s goal?"

"To reach the mountain top."

"Again, we always get it wrong here. That is the issue. We get so messed up. Think again why did he take the vacation? At that point when Ronnie was waving at him, Bill thought that reaching the top is the goal and climbing is the means to achieve the goal, while actually it is exactly the reverse. Think. The climb is the goal and the mountain top is the means that helps him achieve his goal. Did he not take a break to enjoy a few days 'climbing'? The objective was always to climb and enjoy the climb. Now, having said that, remember that the mountain top is also important, but just as a means. If there was no top, then there would be no climb."

"Hmmm....quite interesting."

"If he was clear about the goal (climbing), would he be frustrated to see his friend reaching the top faster?"

"Perhaps, no !"

"Definitely no. Who reaches the top faster and with how much effort - all thjis would cease top matter if the goal is to climb. It is just how we look at things. In fact, he should be satisfied that he is already achieving his goal of climbing - which cannot be accomplished in any way via a helicopter."

"Interesting Dad...."

"And now tell me what is your goal when you study - to learn new things and acquire knowledge or to score marks?"

Arushi went in thinking mode. It is this self introspection only that was going to set her perspective right. I let her take her time. After some time, I had to trigger it..

"So, let me make it absolutely clear to you. Marks are not the goal at all. Marks are just a means - that help you focus on your main goal - which is to acquire more knowledge, and become more wise. While striving to achieve more marks, your goal is to become knowledgeable and wise – and not the other way round. Let there be no doubt about this. Do not mess up your childhood days in this confusion. Do not do the same mistake that Bill did." 

"Wow, this does give me a different perspective. But that is not how our teachers and classmates think. They look highly on us only when we get good marks."

"Yeah, that is how it is always going to stay - perhaps. They have messed up their lives, and we cannot go and correct everyone around us. It is not feasible. But my advise to you would be not to just follow the herd. The entire herd may be headed to hell."

“I get that Dad…I definitely feel better..”

Arushi got it. I got it a few years back. Some of you may get it with this post. Some will never get it. Doesn't matter. The end is the same for everyone. But hold....reaching the end of our life is not our goal. Reaching the end is just a means - a reminder - for us to improve, become better, possess more mental strength, exhibit more happiness, elevate someone's life - and these are our goals. Do not get messed up between the goal and the means.

On a vacation trip remember that the goal is not to reach the destination, but to enjoy the in between moments - waiting at the airport, the cab ride with family, the meal at the hotel, the dance party, the scuba dive, the isolated hour at the beach. In a job or a business, the goal is not to reach the next level - but to impact as many people, experience awesome time and relations on the journey. 

"You always had a goal of financial freedom....", remarked one of my readers.

"The goal was never to be financially free, Freedom is only a means to reach our goals - of doing what we love doing – writing, planting trees, spending time with children and spouse, taking care of parents, meeting friends - and having an enjoyable life.", I responded.

Cheers

Manoj Arora

12 comments:

  1. Awesome perspective.... Honestly, though I understand, still unable to digest or resonate with this perspective.....

    I meant, the thoughts and view points are so deep rooted, difficult to implement the other way...

    It would be a good idea to explain further with taking corporate life example and relating to career and and financial freedom....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Himanshu...
      Perspective gets built over time...it is difficult to change one's perspective with one or two stories, though the mind becomes a little open and 'ready to accept' alternate options with each such story. So keep reading the blog posts, and you would realise a shift happening over the next few years.
      Cheers my friend !
      Manoj

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    2. As an exxample, so many people are striving towards Financial Freedom as a goal. They are all being mislead to believe that Freedom is a goal. The fact is that Freedom is just a means to start chasing your true goals. Your true goals could be spending time with family, having better relationships with family members, writing books, interacting with readers, elevating their lives, planting trees etc etc - All these are made possible via Financial Freedom.
      Cheers
      Manoj

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  2. Sir, I loved your article a lot. Just thought of one thing while reading and would like to know your views upon it. As you said,Bill's goal was to enjoy climbing and the mountain top was just a part of the means. The question is why did Bill turn down his friend's offer? Thinking upon it, either he wanted to climb more or he wanted to reach the top.But according to human tendancy, since his body was aching,he surely had enjoyed a lot of climbing and would not want to climb more in pain.. concluding that he wanted to reach the top! Considering that he wanted to reach the top, what would have been wrong if he would have taken his friend's offer? Since his goal of climbing was accomplished, he could have gone off the helicopter and reached the cliff in a few minutes!!!

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    Replies
    1. Very interesting observation Kajal. A human being is a complex species. Perhaps, I should have asked this question to Bill. One of the reasons could be Bill's ego. A man's ego (not fully applicable to the fairer and wiser half of the species where you belong to) is said to be one of the biggest reasons for his downfall. Bill's ego would not have allowed him to seek help and feel 'humiliated' in front of his dear friend.
      Take care my friend
      Cheers
      Manoj

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  3. Quite interesting. An eye opener

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