On this Spot, Sadhguru cautions that setting goals means depriving yourself of greater possibilities. If you want to lead a truly successful life, there is a better way to approach it, he points out, and offers a simple method towards this objective. He also explains why the mentality of “doing less, getting more” not only means deceiving others, but above all, yourself.
If you become conscious, you will do your best.
There are two ways to address your life. One way is to set goals and go for them. What kind of goals will you set? Something that you are impressed with in the world, something that you have not yet done, something that is yet to be in your life. You are trying to be like someone else or do something that someone else is doing. Whatever goals you arrive at, they are all in some way within the limitations of what you already know, or maybe a little exaggerated versions thereof. Is it not tragic to spend a whole year trying to achieve what you already know? My intention is things that you do not know should happen to you. Things that you have never imagined should enter your life. Only then will your life be truly enriched. What is the point of only doing things that you already know?
When it comes to financial or physical things that you want to achieve, maybe if it matters to you, you can set up such goals. Personally, I think even that is a waste of life. Suppose you have a million dollars and your goal is to have a billion dollars by the end of the year. If it doesn’t happen, it’s a good thing because you have lived in that hope. But if it happens, let’s say in January itself, then what will you do? You will want to make it ten billion dollars. There was a time when you could be happy with one dollar. Now for the same happiness, you need a million dollars. That’s called inflation. That’s not enhancement of life.
All that you do with life is create inflation. Inflation is neither good for the economy nor for your life. In physics, inflation means filling up something, like you inflate the tires of a car with air. But in economics, inflation means certain parameters go out of control. Now you are consciously causing inflation in your life – that is not an intelligent way to go about it. By setting time-bound goals, you may achieve a few things, but it will be of no consequence to the life that you are.
Instead of setting goals for the whole year, just set this one thing: By the end of the day, you must be a little more joyful, a little more enhanced, a little better. This will not work as a goal – it is better to look at it in retrospect. Tomorrow evening, just check, “Am I a little better than yesterday?” Just look at these twenty-four hours – it will make you more conscious. This is not about you being joyful or peaceful. This is about you being conscious of as many aspects of your life as possible.
By the end of the day, you must be a little more joyful, a little more enhanced, a little better.
You will do your best about whatever you are conscious of. Most of the nonsense happens because you are unconscious about so many things. All we need to do is to become conscious about everything – about our own nature, our mental states, our emotional states, our life, our physical situations, our financial situations, our ecological situations. If you become conscious, you will do your best. That’s all you need to do in life. But right now, you believe that unless you create a tension, you will not achieve anything. To get from where you are to where your goal is, you create a tension – it is like a rubber band effect. You try to keep moving from one place to another. From one level of social status to another. From one financial status to another. From one educational status to another. This is no different from how the caveman was, how hunters and gatherers were – “gather as much as you can.”
In those days, they piled up bones, feathers, and the like. Now maybe you are thinking of stocks, shares, and property. Maybe you are thinking of conquering another nation. On a material level, it looks different, but fundamentally, it is the same rudimentary thought of accumulating things. All this accumulation would make sense, had you organized transport to take all these things with you when you die. Having your own furniture in Heaven or especially in Hell would be great. Otherwise, who knows – maybe they will give you this chair with a straight back that you don’t like, so taking your own sofa with you would be great.
Anything that you gather, whether it is your knowledge, your wealth, your relationships, or whatever else, is only of value for the current transactions. If you keep it active, it will facilitate a few things for you. It has social consequence, but it has no life consequence. Instead of setting goals, it is best you find ways to nourish this life that you are. If you are nourishing this life, you only have to measure the growth. Suppose you plant a mango tree. If you set the goal that by the end of 2018, it must bear a thousand fruits, otherwise you will cut it down, all that will happen is you will cut the tree. The way to do it is to see how to nurture this tree in the best possible way, and to do that. Don’t worry about getting a thousand fruits. Whatever best can come out will come out of it. If you nourish it in a certain way, it may be more than you can imagine.
…life works best when you throw yourself into it, without bothering about what comes back.
It is not good to set goals in any sphere of life, because you will only be doing something that you already know. Nothing completely new will happen in your life. I think that’s a tragedy. Your dreams coming true is no good. If what you could not even dare to dream of becomes a reality – that’s a fantastic life. Results will happen depending on how well you handle the process of life, as well as on the times and on where you are. Today you may put in a certain amount of effort, and you will earn a million dollars. A thousand years ago, someone ten times smarter than you put in a lot of effort, but still he only earned a small amount. But this comparison is not the point. The important thing is that for the times he lived in, he yielded the best he could. For the times you live in, are you yielding the best you can? That is the question.
I know every management school is talking about setting goals. But goals are not set for themselves – they are set to drive other people. There are a lot of people who will never do their best – they are always under par. They are not conscious enough to understand that as a human being, you must do the best you can in your life. Otherwise, life will be wasted. For such people, you have to set goals. If you are a donkey, the less you do, the smarter you are, because there are no other possibilities for you beyond eating, reproducing, sleeping, hanging around, and dying one day. Because there are no possibilities, the less you do, the better. Too many people have adopted this donkey philosophy. They think if they do less and get more, they are doing well. In reality, they are just stupid. They are missing the whole possibility of life.
Human life really happens if you throw yourself into everything. If you hold back, you will miss life. If you do not give yourself totally to what you are doing, you don’t deceive someone else –you only deceive yourself of life. Once, bad times came upon Shankaran Pillai. He was a construction laborer, doing menial work to earn a living. He had to carry twenty-five bricks on a board, take them up three floors, put them there, come back down again, and so on. But after some time, once the foreman was gone, Shankaran Pillai started carrying the same set of bricks up and down. People who were working with him watched this and said, “Hey, why are you bringing back the bricks?” “Well, the foreman is not looking, right?” “But now you are carrying the bricks both ways, you idiot! Otherwise, at least coming down, you would not have had to carry the load.”
It is not good to set goals in any sphere of life, because you will only be doing something that you already know.
This is what happens if you try to do less – simple things will become burdensome in your life. People are having so much trouble just going to the office and doing nine-to-five work. They are not managing the company. They are not managing the government. It’s just a chunk of work that someone has given them, just for a living – how complicated they are making that! From that, they are getting high blood pressure and their heart is breaking. You must see the scenes that happen in families. Just two people living together – how complicated! Little children – how much suffering they cause! Only once in a way, they are a joy – the rest of the time, people suffer them immensely.
Their work, their children, their spouses, their homes, their jobs, their driving – people suffer just about everything. This happens because they are not conscious enough to understand that life works best when you throw yourself into it, without bothering about what comes back. Life happens because of your involvement, not because of what you get. What are you going to do with what you get? The only sick pleasure you could have is if you compare yourself with someone else who has less than you. If you want to know and enjoy life, if you want to explore the full potential of this life, the only way is through absolute involvement. Let us see what will come out of it. If it is winter, nothing comes out of the earth. In springtime, with a little effort, a lot comes out. The same goes with life.
The biggest mistake people make is to be goal-oriented. If you set yourself the goal to get enlightened by 2018, you will be totally messed up by the end of the year. If you just do what you have to do, life will naturally flower.
May the coming year bring the Best to you.