“Nothing is more terrible than activity without insight” (Thomas Carlyle).
IT’S AN UNFORTUNATE SITUATION WHEN WE GET SO BUSY THAT WE LOSE SIGHT OF WHAT IT IS THAT WE’RE TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH. But in these busy days, that can easily happen. We can become so deeply involved dealing with the trees that we lose sight of the forest. So it’s vitally important for us to take time out regularly to review our objectives and remind ourselves of the purpose for which we are engaging in all of this busyness. In the words of Thoreau, “It is not enough to be busy. The question is: what are we busy about?”
Creating our objectives. If we’ve never consciously thought about what our objectives are in life, then we need to do that. And in deciding what it is that we want to accomplish, we need to be careful in making those decisions. Using our creativity and imagination boldly, we need to formulate life-objectives that are based on our principles.
Clarifying our objectives. The more deeply we launch ourselves into the business of living life, the more important it is to return to our objectives periodically and clarify them. As we work on our goals, we get a better idea of what it is that we really want to contribute in life, and so we need to sharpen our objectives, continually making them more well-defined. And then, of course, circumstances in life may sometimes indicate that we need to change our principles and our objectives completely. In that case, we need to go back to the drawing board and radically re-envision our purpose for living.
Committing to our objectives. Not even the best objectives can help us if we don’t act upon them. So we need to commit ourselves to our purposes in such a way that our commitment shows up in action. Having planned our work, we need to work our plan. And our action needs to be not sporadic but continuous — over the long haul.
Worthy goals and objectives are powerful things. And strangely enough, some of the most powerful objectives are those that are impossible to achieve. It is not the possibility of perfect achievement but the worthiness of the goal itself that provides the power to motivate us. In this broken old world, there are many virtuous things worth beginning, even though we may not be the ones to finish them completely.
“The question should be, is it worth trying to do, not can it be done” (Allard K. Lowenstein).