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Published July 15, 2011, 12:00 AM

Val Farmer: Goals add meaning, purpose to our lives

Striving and sustaining effort toward worthwhile goals are the stuff life is built around. We have great power within us – once we have set our goals and choose a course of action. Persistence, not talent, is the main factor in success.

By: Val Farmer, INFORUM

Striving and sustaining effort toward worthwhile goals are the stuff life is built around. We have great power within us – once we have set our goals and choose a course of action. Persistence, not talent, is the main factor in success.

Without goals, without work, life becomes meaningless. Without goals, vision or purpose, we are susceptible to depression, boredom or dissipation of time and energy. “A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.” – John Barrymore

Choose goals that are worthy of you. We are actors, creators, creatures of desire and capable of great energy. We need to marshal that energy and desire toward goals that ennoble ourselves and benefit others. Pleasure and happiness are by-products of well-lived lives and goals unto themselves.

Getting there. Goals without action steps are just dreams. Nothing worthwhile ever comes easy. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” Most failure is the failure to begin.

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, Begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it, Begin it now. – Goethe

Once you have made your decision and laid out your plans, execute, execute, execute your plan. If the pathway to your goal is blocked, you need to find a different way or revise your goal.

Enlist the powers of heaven in your behalf. Pray over your life and your endeavors.

We are on earth to grow and develop, to fulfill the measure of our creation, to be what we are capable of becoming. God wants us to seek him, find him and to make him a partner in our eternal journey of life.

The dangers of goals. “Goals are stars to steer by, not sticks to beat yourself with.” – Barbara Smith

When things happen to disrupt your life and make your goals disappear or seem impossible, it is important to shorten up your horizon and work for short-term goals until the bigger picture comes into focus. One day at a time and finding pleasure in the moment are good coping strategies when trying to assimilate losses or when the future appears bleak or uncertain.

“If you chase two rabbits at the same time, both will get away.” – Folk expression

Too many goals at the same time are self-defeating.

Goals can be too compelling. Life is meant to be lived in balance. People are more important than things. Rearing children is our most important responsibility. Loving, giving and serving others are needed antidotes to a self-serving and self-centered lifestyle. Love in marriage can bring great joy. There is joy in posterity.

Leisure, rest, recreation, a change of pace, exposure to new experience and new ideas, arousal, fun, relaxation are all gifts of renewal and are necessary for better work.

There is boredom and tedium to life. Do the routine as well as the daunting. Face problems head on. Pay attention to detail. Look heavenward and then outward at the forest, then look at the trees.

Be open to change. “Life is what happens to us as we make other plans.” Uninvited stress, suffering and setbacks are often the spurs to growth we can’t and wouldn’t seek out for ourselves.

We need hope to sustain ourselves. We need to nourish our hope until all hope is gone. We need to grieve and mourn our losses and then find something else to hope for. Life has more in store for us. Each day is a gift. We need to search and find new hope.

“When old dreams die, new dreams take their place. God pity the ‘one dream’ person.”

Once you have set your course, then new information will jump out at you, new experiences will have relevance. Ideas will have relevance. It seems like the very Universe is conspiring to help you along the way.

We are unique with a unique divine destiny to fulfill. All experiences can be stepping stones to greater success if we learn from them. Our true talents, gifts and energy become clear to us as we add experience to experience and learn from them. Be open to an entirely new vision of yourself and what you can become as life dislodges your hopes and aspirations.

If you have an idea, an inspired thought, or a flash of insight, write it down and act on it within a day or two, or it will disappear.

Losing track. The only time we have is now. Do the important things first. Not everything is important. Don’t be distracted or sell yourself short by enticements and blandishments that have no lasting value. Make each day count.

Be careful of rationalizations. Be true to yourself. You lose track of your true goals by laziness, fear, vanity or misplaced priorities. Live the life you really want to live instead of the following the easy path or the path others want you to take.

You are not alone. Join forces with others who share your values and goals. Seek out help and assistance in your journey of life. Allow others to help you. Draw and learn from them. There is power in synergy. Life is not a “do it yourself” project.

Goals have great power to unify couples, families, businesses, citizens, congregations, organizations and people in a common cause.

“A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together becomes reality.” – John Lennon


Val Farmer is a clinical psychologist specializing in family business consultation and mediation with farm families. He lives in Wildwood, Mo., and can be contacted through his website, www.valfarmer.com.

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