When Achieving Your Goals is not Enough

The Problem of More, Better, Different

Consider Curtis. By his standards his life as a husband, father and general contractor wasn’t lacking. At 41, he made a comfortable amount of money, enjoyed his wife and kids, was a deacon in his church, and owned a house that he considered adequate. But Curtis felt like something was missing. His marriage could be better. He wanted to quit smoking and lose 25 pounds. There was a tract of land on the outskirts of town that he wanted to build a bigger house on. For that he needed to take his company to the next level. Then there was the dream of riding his motorcycle to Alaska and hiking the Colorado Trail with his son and daughter. When another contractor told him about a personal growth workshop, Curtis attended. As a result, Curtis’s marriage improved, he built a bigger house, lost 15 of the 25 pounds and over the course of two summers hiked the Colorado Trail.

Each time Curtis achieved one of his goals he felt fulfilled — at least for a time. The little tug that something was missing inevitably crept back in, though. So, Curtis redefined his goals. He quit smoking, took up running, completed a marathon. He rallied the troops and rode to Alaska. He spearheaded a trip to Bangladesh to build a school. Still, in the end, that sense of fulfillment always seemed to vaporize, like morning mist in the sun.

Can you relate to Curtis? Are you pleased that you’ve overcome self-limiting obstacles to achieve your goals, but in the end you don’t really feel fulfilled? There’s a reason for that.

Each of us has a deep desire for lasting happiness and fulfillment. We want our lives to count for something, to have an impact on this world. We try to fill that need in a variety of ways from getting married, to being a better Christian, buying the most expensive car, winning a beauty pageant… the list differs according to the individual. When we look for fulfillment from the things we do or don’t do, however, we get caught up in a cycle called More, Better, Different. Since there is only momentary gratification from the things we do, there is always something more, something better or something different to do or achieve. This puts us in the position of always having to look to the future to the next best thing, but never getting to a place of lasting satisfaction. When we connect fulfillment with an accomplishment, getting rid of something (such as weight, resentment, an unwanted habit) or even an intangible like finding our purpose, we can end up paralyzed rather than advancing. By the end of our lives when we no longer have it in us to run our marathons, we wind up angry, anxious, frustrated, or depressed.

The problem is looking extrinsically – or outside of ourselves – for lasting satisfaction. It’s not a matter of working more, better, or differently. It is a matter of where we are coming from, our beingness. If we’re looking to something outside of ourselves in order to be something, everything will wind up upside down and inside out.

So how do you live from your beingness, rather than from More, Better, Different? We’ll explore that in an upcoming newsletter. Until then, be aware of how your life is directed by the tyranny of More, Better, Different. Notice when you are driven by guilt or shame. That will be instructive as we begin to discuss the solution.

2 Responses to “When Achieving Your Goals is not Enough”

  1. Dawne Kirkwood says:

    Thank you for this article. I’m in a Masters program that required me to read “Business For The Glory of God”. This book have biblical reasons for having drive. I highly recommend it.. This article made question if maybe God placed the insatiable drive to cause us to do more…like Him:)

  2. Tim Wilcox says:

    Great newsletter I look forward to more.

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