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Working Delusions

Working Delusions

People suffer from many delusions. One of the most common is that everything worthwhile takes effort. It’s part of that pernicious way of thinking called The Puritan Work Ethic. According to this doctrine, work and effort are valuable and praiseworthy in themselves and lack of either leads to laziness, idleness and vice. Ergo, the more work or effort something takes, the more valuable it becomes. If you want to increase the amount of worthwhile elements in your life, you always need to work harder (longer hours, more effort). Q.E.D.

This is, of course, irrational drivel. The value attached to work comes from what’s produced as a result, nothing else. Relaxation and ease don’t produce vice—unless you cling to the belief that anything enjoyable must be sinful too. Most criminals, terrorists and evil dictators work very hard at what they do. Does that, miraculously, make it good?

Much of what people spend their time and effort on is trivial, unproductive and contributes little or nothing to their well-being, enjoyment or prosperity. Hours are spent watching TV programs everyone agrees are rubbish. People do jobs they despise for wages they claim are way below what they’re worth. They buy goods they don’t use and clothes they rarely wear. They look forward to the weekend, then spend it wandering around the mall or watching still more TV.

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Making your life more productive, more enjoyable and more fitted to your sense of life’s purpose needs more (and less) than slogging away at some activity only duty forces you to do. It needs you to let go of all the footling, pointless, unsatisfying and merely conventional activities you do currently. Then focus whatever time and effort you’ve freed up on those parts of your life you enjoy or desire most.

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Life doesn’t need to be a grim process of hours and days of activities you’re forced to do, in return for a few minutes of (probably guilty) pleasure. If you truly enjoy watching TV, go ahead—enjoy it wholeheartedly. If you don’t, stop doing it right now. If thinking about your work makes you feel mildly sick, focus your time on moving to another job you’ll enjoy more. If you love training hard for a marathon, that’s fine. If you’d prefer to sit in a chair with a book, that’s fine too. If spending time with friends makes your heart glad, go to it. If what thrills you most is the feeling of satisfaction you get from the job you do, spend as much time at work as you want.

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There are no absolute, established rules for life. Many people try to tell you otherwise, but that’s because they want you to do only what they feel is right. It’s your life. So far as we know, you only get one. You ought to be able to live it pretty much as you wish, provided you don’t hurt others in the process. That’s what freedom means.

Here are some articles to help you stop wasting effort and start achieving more with less:

Adrian Savage is an Englishman and a retired business executive who lives in Tucson, Arizona. You can read his serious thoughts most days at Slow Leadership, the site for anyone who wants to bring back the taste, zest and satisfaction to leadership; and his crazier ones at The Coyote Within.

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Last Updated on July 13, 2020

How to Plan Your Life Goals and Actually Achieve Them

How to Plan Your Life Goals and Actually Achieve Them

Where do you want to be 5 years from now, 10 years from now, or even this time next year? These places are your goal destinations and although you might know that you don’t want to be standing still in the same place as you are now, it’s not always easy to identify what your real goals are.

Many people think that setting a goal destination is having a dream that is there in the far distant future but will never be attained. This proves to be a self-fulfilling prophesy because of two things:

Firstly, that the goal isn’t specifically defined enough in the first place; and secondly, it remains a remote dream waiting for action which is never taken.

Defining your goal destination is something that you need to take some time to think carefully about. The following steps on how to plan your life goals should get you started on a journey to your destination.

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1. Make a List of Your Goal Destinations

Goal destinations are the things that are important to you. Another word for them would be ambitions, but ambitions sound like something which outside of your grasp, whereas goal destinations are certainly achievable if you are willing to put in the effort working towards them.

So what do you really want to do with your life? What are the main things that you would like to accomplish with your life? What is it that you would really regret not doing if you suddenly found you had a limited amount of time left on the earth?

Each of these things is a goal. Define each goal destination in one sentence.

If any of these goals is a stepping stone to another one of the goals, take it off this list as it isn’t a goal destination.

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2. Think About the Time Frame to Have the Goal Accomplished

This is where the 5 year, 10 year, next year plan comes into it.

Learn the differences between a short term goal and a long term goal. Some goals will have a “shelf life” because of age, health, finance, etc, whereas others will be up to you as to when you would like to achieve them by.

3. Write Down Your Goals Clearly

Write each goal destination at the top of a new piece of paper.

For each goal, write down what is it that you need and don’t have now that will allow you achieve that goal. This could be some kind of education, career change, finance, a new skill, etc. Any “stepping stone” goals you removed will fit into this exercise. If any of these smaller “goals” have sub-goals, go through the same process with these so that you have precise action points to work with.

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4. Write Down What You Need to Do for Each Goal

Under each item listed, write down the things that you will need to do in order to complete each of the steps required to complete the goal. 

These items will become a check-list. They are a tangible way of checking how you are progressing towards reaching your goal destinations. A record of your success!

5. Write Down Your Timeframe With Specific and Realistic Dates

Using the time frames you created, on each goal destination sheet write down the year in which you will complete the goal by.

For any goal which has no fixed completion date, think about when you would like to have accomplished it by and use that as your destination date.

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Work within the time frames for each goal destination, make a note of realistic dates by which you will complete each of the small steps.

6. Schedule Your To-Dos

Now take an overview of all your goal destinations and make a schedule of what you need to do this week, this month, this year – in order to progress along the road towards your goal destinations.

Write these action points on a schedule, you have definite dates on which to do things.

7. Review Your Progress

At the end of the year, review what you have done this year, mark things off the check-lists for each goal destination and write up the schedule with the action points you need for the next year.

Although it may take you several years to, for example, get the promotion you desire because you first need to get the MBA which means getting a job with more money to allow you to finance a part-time degree course, you will ultimately be successful in achieving your goal destination because you have planned out not only what you want, but how to get it, and have been pro-active towards achieving it.

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Featured photo credit: Debby Hudson via unsplash.com

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