Do you have goals? Does your life have purpose? Do you know what you want in this life? If you answered yes to these questions then you are a “teleological kind of person.”
I have often used the subject of purpose in my posts. In April of 2009, I did a specific post about purpose entitled: Do You Know Your Purpose and Worth? It was in that post that I made the following statement: “Until recently I had never thought purposefully about purpose.” You see, I have only recently brought the concept of purpose and its importance in my everyday life to the forefront of my thinking. By recently, I mean these last ten years of my life. I know some of you might think that isn’t what is meant by recent, but for some of us, up there in years, it seems like yesterday. :-)
Let me be clear about what I mean when I write that you may be or are a teleological kind of person. I know that many who hear or read about teleological people assume they are people who prescribe to a certain spiritual or religious belief. I am using teleological as a way of describing the phenomenon of how important it is for us to have goals and purpose in life. For example, think about how having a goal for a good job helps you remain focused toward getting the necessary education to obtain that job. Or, think about how purpose enables you to feel content and fulfilled. These are just a couple of examples where purpose and/or goals can play an important role in our lives.
When I was teaching, one purpose that I held in the forefront of my mind was to be a good educator and person who constantly thought about how to improve his students’ learning. This helped me to accept the stress, low pay, etc. that came with the profession. My life had purpose and was constantly filled with goals. An example of one of my goals, was to start in the Fall with a Geometry class of non-geometers and end in the Spring with a graduating class of geometers. There were many other goals stemming from my purpose, but hopefully, with this example, you can understand the connection I’m making between goals and purpose.
An interesting point of view, regarding a goal, develops when we achieve it. All of a sudden the goal has been reached and then what? Something we have been working hard to achieve has been accomplished. Now we have nothing to work for. When that happens, many of us tend to “kick back” and do nothing. We feel down and without purpose. Maybe we find ourselves low on energy – lacking the initiative to work as hard as we did before the goal was achieved. How can this be?
Using my previous example of teaching a Geometry class, I would sometimes experience the end of school as both an exciting time and a somewhat depressing time. I would be excited about achieving the goal of bringing my students to the level of passing Geometry, but at the same time, I would be a little depressed because I no longer had that goal to work toward. I no longer had to create solutions to the problem of finding a better way to teach the class. I no longer had to find ways to motivate my class to become the best students they could become. Now, please don’t misunderstand me, I’m only using this partially fictitious example to explain what was “on the edge of my thinking.” Though I had some of these negative thoughts, they were never severe enough to cause me harm. Actually, I think they are normal and as long as they are dealt with correctly, there’s no harm done.
Well, how should we deal with the let down problem described in the previous paragraph? I think we need to set goals that last through the achieving of a specific one. In other words, we need to have at least one other goal before we achieve the one we are currently working toward. Using my Geometry class example, I needed to set a goal for the Summer after the class before the end of it. And, I usually did. Often times that goal was simply to learn something new that would improve my teaching for the Fall semester.
We need to be sure that goals are continuous and there is always at least one to work toward. There is nothing wrong with taking a break from working toward your goal(s), but you need to be sure it’s your choice and not something you are doing because you have no goals. Make one of your goals to always have a goal! :-)