I am not sure how many of you believe in writing down what it is you want to do… talks of setting goals is all over the internet and in every possible book you can find on self-help. So I am not going to talk about that one. What I do want to talk about today is defining yourself. I found this brilliant quote: “In the animal kingdom, the rule is, eat or be eaten; in the human kingdom, define or be defined.” — Thomas S. Szasz, a psychiatrist and academic.
While what this quote told me may not be exactly what Mr. Szasz meant when he said this, but to me it made sense enough to share. You know, one of the things that all the various goal setting exercises advise you to do is write down very clearly what you want to do with your life long term and short term. I have done that several times, and one very well-known speaker advises you must write down 12-13 goals at a given time. I liked the advice and it has worked for me as like everyone else, I too have goals in so many different aspects of my life. But even after all these goals, I felt I was not getting where I really wanted to go.
You see, there is a difference in what your mind wants and what your heart wants. Goals are typically set by the mind, and to express what your heart wants, you need to really sit down and listen to your heart. Most of the time, it is rather difficult to find the words that express what your heart wants. So what I did was put down the obvious goals I had, you know, work related stuff, and personal finance stuff, the writing a book bit, blogging bit ;), yes that was in my goals too.
So I did all that and worked towards each of them a little bit every day, and well, I am making progress at various levels. But you know that feeling that you get which tells you, ‘You are not there yet’? That has been inside of me and I did try to look around and do some introspection. But did not really get very far. I realized, there are other things that I like, that are not part of my goal-list. I don’t put them there because it’s just something I like to do, like a hobby; but there aren’t any goals around it. So like the advocates of goal writing say, if you don’t put it down, it doesn’t get done. That’s true.
So stuff like sketching, drawing, making art, all the feel-good stuff – I had no goals around that, so it was not happening. And then, today I read this quote: .. Define or be Defined. In less than five minutes, I just wrote down things that really matter to me and I would like to define myself with, and bam! I had put down everything that really means a lot to me, emotionally and it is something I really want to do. But I haven’t been making time for it, and it has been making me feel incomplete.
I looked at the four words I had put down and realized, these were the words that I really really stood for deep in my heart. I sat and looked at these words and felt complete. And I have decided, that I am going to add these non-financial, non-material goals on my list of things to do. That way, I will get them done, and feel connected to who I really define myself as. So if you have been doing a lot of right things but inside yourself, still feel ‘You are not there yet’, I suggest you take Mr. Szasz’s advice, “Define yourself.”
~ Bharti Athray