A Grim Story About Goals

April 20, 2005  

A friend wrote me today with an excerpt from the book Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho. The main character is a prostitute who makes this observation:

“Of course, everyone spoke ill of her profession, but, basically, it was all a question of selling her time, like everyone else. Doing things she didn’t want to do, like everyone else. Putting up with horrible people, like everyone else. Handing over her precious body and her precious soul in the name of a future that never arrived, like everyone else. Saying that she still didn’t have enough, like everyone else. Waiting just a bit longer, like everyone else. Waiting so that she could earn just a little bit more, postponing the realization of her dreams; she was too busy right now, she had great opportunities ahead of her, loyal clients who were waiting for her. . .”

Old Comments

5 Responses to “A Grim Story About Goals”

  1. Jan Goyvaerts on April 21st, 2005 6:34 am

    To me, this all too familiar story sounds like it’s caused by the absense of clear goals. She didn’t have “enough” because “enough” is too vague and constantly changing. To get out of a rat race, set one or more incremental goals and get it over with. To be goal-free, set the goal to be equal to what you already have. However, being satisfied with what you have seems to be very difficult for most people.

  2. Administrator on April 21st, 2005 8:38 am

    Jan, thank you for your comments.

    I only use the prostitute’s situation as an analogy for the predicament of others. I have found that many goal-oriented people are willing to sacrifice today for something better in the future. Therefore they end up doing things they would rather not do. They work in jobs they don’t like. They surround themselves with people they would not typically choose to be with. They are not satisfied with what they have…now; there is this longing for more that can never be satisfied. They sell their soul in the belief that the future will be better. They have convinced themselves that the achievement of their goal will bring them happiness…“waiting just a bit longer.” But that better future rarely arrives. Because even if a goal is successfully achieved, it is rarely enough to quiet one’s desire for more.

    I agree with you Jan. One great challenge is to “want what you have.” Only when you have a deep appreciation for where you are today, can you begin to truly dream about what is possible. Your goals are no longer driven by an insatiable desire for more. The future is not a place to get to. But rather it serves as a context for igniting passion now. Too often we are too busy to dream. We get stuck in a rut driven by ill-conceived goals. “Waiting so that we can earn just a little bit more, postponing the realization of our dreams…too busy right now.”

  3. (b), boris eder » Blog Archive » on April 25th, 2005 1:35 pm

    [...] e had great opportunities ahead of her, loyal clients who were waiting for her. . .” via Goal-free Living Schön, wahr und irgendwie recht passend. Merken! Der Eintrag wurd [...]

  4. anon on May 31st, 2005 11:32 am

    The mistake that these “goal-directed” people make is not accepting the present moment and enjoying the present moment. Having goals and accepting yourself and everything around you now are not mutually exclusive.

  5. Administrator on June 10th, 2005 11:14 am

    Very true. Which is why goal-free living is not about having NO goals. Rather it is about being free from the burden and stranglehold that goals have on so many people. Attitude towards goals is the key. I never find myself saying, “I will be happy when…” I have a complete appreciation for where I am today. The future is only a context for creating a powerful present moment. It is not a place to get to.