Does Pursuing Goals Conflict With “Enjoying The Moment?”

"Seize the moment" and visit New Orleans?

In many of my posts, I’ve written about the importance of pursuing goals. I have sometimes stated, or at least implied, that goals are essential to achieving overall success in life. Recently, I have been questioning that line of thinking. In other words, I have had some doubt as to whether or not I should take the approach of always pursuing goals in order have the best life.

If I'm constantly pursuing the goal of good health, then how can I enjoy the moment?

One of the questions that caused me to challenge this thinking was: “If I’m constantly pursuing goals, then how will I ever be able to just ‘enjoy the moment’?” You see, constantly pursuing goals seems contradictory to another fun and exciting aspect of life – spontaneity. If we do things spontaneously, are we destined to not have success in life? In other words, is it true that success depends upon establishing, pursuing and not deviating from goals?

If I’m constantly pursuing goals, then how will I ever be able to just, enjoy the moment? A good question! So what’s the answer? Suppose my goal is to travel to Florida. I make my plans, I travel to Florida and stay in all of the places I have reservations for and then, an opportunity comes-up for making it an extended vacation. But, in order to take advantage of this new opportunity, I must give up some, if not all, of my goals for the end of my vacation, including many related goals once I returned home. In other words, if I pursued my original goals, I would not be able to enjoy the moment. There’s a conflict between pursuing goals and enjoying the moment!

Englewood, FL at sunset, Spring of 2005. From here to New Orleans. "Just enjoying the moment!" :-)


This has happened to me in the past. A particular example occurred in the Spring of 2005. My wife and I had bought a week’s use of a condominium in Englewood, Florida. While there, we received an e-mail from a friend who suggested that we go to New Orleans, LA after our week in Englewood. We had not planned for that, in fact, our goal/plan was to go home after our Englewood trip for a general Spring clean-up of our house and yard, culminating with a social gathering that we were hosting.

Now, I realize many of you might think changing the goal/plan of Spring clean-up, etc. to extending our current vacation was no “big-deal.” I’ll admit, that the main plan/goal of a general Spring clean-up, upon hind-sight, was not that important – that is, UNTIL you realize how my obsessive compulsive behavior affects my everyday thinking. Before I go any further with this, I should make clear that I have NOT been diagnosed as a person who has OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder). I simply have “self-diagnosed” myself to better explain how I act and react. And, of course, I am obsessed and compelled to self-diagnose myself. :-)

"For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go."

The previous story about extending a vacation, though not a life-defining moment, does point out a way of enjoying the moment and deviating from the overall pursuing of a goal. What I realized when I decided to extend the vacation was that I am not traveling to go somewhere, instead I’m traveling to go! Out of fairness to the author of Treasure Island, I must admit that the previous statement is a variation of a Robert Louis Stevenson‘s quote of: “For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.”

I think that success in life must depend, on some part, the ability to enjoy whatever I can at any given time, even if it involves changing goals. There is an important aspect of living and being “present in the present” that demands we reconsider our goals (which are for the future) and consider an adjustment so we live the only time we ever can – the present!

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