Everybody has goals and desires, but what most people don’t realize is that the goal itself is not really what you are after. You are really trying to experience the emotion that comes along with that particular goal.
When somebody says they love their job, they aren’t talking about the emails they send every day, or the commute, or most other of the actual physical or mental tasks they perform day in and day out. They are talking about the way the job makes them feel: respected, important, helpful, indispensable, useful, powerful, secure, whatever.
The most important part of this concept is the fact that these emotions are not necessarily fixed to that particular activity or achievement. Truly understanding this can revolutionize the way you think about your goals, because in many cases there are much better ways to actualize the emotions you are after.
Identifying what emotions you are actually after can play an important role in decision-making during along the way to reach your goals.
Imagine to guys that are both trying to build up a source of passive income. They each come to the point where they have to decide between paying off their mortgage or keeping the debt and investing the money in the markets instead. Technically the math would say to keep the low interest debt when you can get a higher rate of return elsewhere.
But why are they trying to achieve this goal of passive income? Guy #1 wants the security, peace, and free time that comes with having all his living expenses covered by passive income sources. Guy #2 gets giddy at the thought of the respect and admiration he gets driving around in a nice car and custom suit that the extra passive income will give him when he adds it to his day job income.
For guy #2 the decision is easy – he is going to keep working anyway, and the emotions he is after are better served by maximizing the amount of money he can get. So he will play the numbers and try to squeeze out that extra percent or two return.
For guy #1, his entire goal is security, peace, and free time. Once he has that, any extra money will not add nearly as much utility. So being able to completely eliminate one of his major expenses (housing) and own his house free and clear will dramatically increase the feelings of peace he has about his situation. He won’t be staying up at night worrying about the extra 2% he could be making – instead he will feel totally secure knowing that almost no matter what happens he has a place to live almost for free, which makes him have to work much less if he wants, giving him even more precious time.
If either of these people chose the other option, because they thought it was the ‘smart’ decision, or because of societal pressure in either direction, they would actually be working AGAINST the very goals they set out to accomplish!
This is why it is so important to do an honest appraisal of the emotions you are after. It may actually surprise you as well! But even if it doesn’t, it will make all decisions along the way much easier and more effective.