Starting with What You Know about Yourself and Degree of Challenge

This is a follow-up post to yesterday’s post about attaining life dreams.

What if you don’t know what you want? You don’t know what surface goals would help you achieve your deep goals?

A good place to start is with what you know you like and extrapolate. For example, if you have a particular skill and have the deep goal of being more respected, maybe that could be achieved by teaching that skill to others who want to learn it. If you know you like chocolate and want to feel more connected to the earth, maybe you could become a chocolate expert and learn about how the different flavors of chocolate are influenced by where the beans are grown. If you know you like reading and want a greater creative element in your life, maybe you start befriending writers (or start by watching/listening to author talks) or start creating characters for short stories.

Good (by which I mean satisfying) surface goals often have a “project” element – a sense of completing a challenge or mastering a skill. One of the examples I came across recently was from the book/movie Julie and Julia, which is about a woman named Julie Powell who decided to make all the 500+ recipes from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking cookbook in a year, while holding down a full time government job. Julie wrote a blog about her project back in the early 2000s which led to a book and movie. There was an element of acting on a whim in starting the project. She’d had somewhat of a childhood fascination with her mother’s copy of the Mastering the Art of French Cooking book, impulsively swiped the book on a visit home, and it started from there. Her husband made the suggestion of blogging about her project. Although her project turned into something larger, it started as a personal development project in the year before she turned 30 when she was dissatisfied with her career and elements of her life. In Julie’s book, she writes about how the project helped fulfill her deep goals.

I think Julie’s example is a great example of what I wrote about yesterday about setting sail in a direction and how sometimes the opportunities that open up exceed your wildest imagination.

Interestingly, helping people increase the activities they do that provide a sense of pleasure and/or accomplishment/mastery is also part of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for Depression.