I had some friends over Friday and a refrigerator full of champagne.
Some of us; a couple of colleagues from Brilliant, a young successful salesman from one of our competitors and a 50 year old artist started discussing goals. Around midnight we were still on the same subject. The core issue was
Do we need goals?
The artist has reached every goal she set in her youth. She feels no need for goals, and remains as active as she ever was. She wanted to prove that yes, we can live without goals.
That was a point the young salesman could not stomach. He wanted to prove that she did set goals. Goals gives life direction. Without goals she would get nothing done.
”But I’ve been where you are” the artist replied ”..or I would not have gotten through my very competitive college”. She went on to explain how goals had been a key ingredient in getting her first pieces sold, but that goal orientation is a thing for the young. Teenagers usually lack focus on anything but the opposite gender. But then they find it. All athletes, political activists and yuppies are keenly goal oriented. Young people need to be.
Being goal oriented helped her get her first commission. A young artist needs goals, she said. Goals help you past your youthful disorientation. All athletes, political activists and young careerists have goals that they focus entirely on. This helps them get masses done but they also miss a lot.
But now, she said, all those goals have been checked off. This leaves her with a calm presence that she lacked in her youth.
The rest of us chose positions somewhere between these extremes. I agreed that an exaggerated goal focus makes it difficult to be completely present in the now. The artist would miss out on inspiration. The salesman might miss signals that the customer he is talking to wants something just slightly different from what he is selling. I even used the observation that can be done in in any night club, any night in the week. There will always be young men starring at the blondes, missing out on very nice brunettes.
If you had been there, what would you have said?