Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Still no goals

If you know me, by this point you just laugh when I talk about life goals and not having any. It is a source of stress to me, which has not been helped by Brian Souza's book Become Who You Were Born To Be, subtitled - like an ad in the back of the National Enquirer - We All Have a Gift...Have you Discovered Yours?

To answer that: no, I have not discovered my "gift," even after reading your book, which I think was supposed to help me in this arena. Never trust a book if the cover has a picture of a smiling guy wearing a suit. You know they are smiling because they now have your money (presumably to buy more suits.) Thank goodness I read a library copy and have lost nothing but time.

In all seriousness, it wasn't all bad. The first part of the book actually gave me a lot of food for thought. In this section Souza talked about identifying your "burning desire" or "burning discontent" and turning it into a goal by making it more precise, visualizing how you want your life to be, and examining your life patterns that prevent you from moving in the right direction. He talked about brainstorming and trying different things out, and exposing yourself to new experiences and new interests in order to find direction.

Other than that, it was mostly filler. The topics covered included having a postive attitude, committing to excellence, dealing with change, and facing your fears, as well as reminders of how lucky we are to live in America compared to many other places in the world. I can't argue with anything he said, but he didn't really say a whole lot. It was fluff. Each chapter also contained an inspiring story of someone who overcame their life circumstances to be successful and (usually) famous. Though these stories were meant to illustrate the concept of that chapter, sometimes I couldn't see the connection.

Aside from how insubstantial it all was, I had a bit of a problem with the generalizations he made about his readers. Much of it seemed to be based on the assumption that we are all caught up in a rat race, we have all lost our core values and are completely materialistic - there are actually several chapters on these themes. But it is SO not where I'm coming from. I mean, I'd love to give up my 6-figure income and sell my yachts and discover what is really important in life but, you know, I have to do some shelf-reading in the fiction section and clean the cat's litterbox and whatnot.

Most of the book is encouragement and not helpful if, like me, you don't have some childhood dream you are still waiting to pursue. Despite the promises of Smiling Suit Man, I finished this book no closer to discovering my true purpose in life. In fact, I'm even more convinced that there is no such thing. Sure, some people do have a calling, but not everyone.

Luckily, when I found this book I also grabbed a copy of one called Living Without a Goal. This one feels more promising since I'm already doing what the title suggests. I'll let you know how it goes!

1 comment:

Annmarie said...

Remember in the "Gum Thief" when Douglas Coupland warns of anyone with a "burning (or passionate) desire". That is just setting yourself up for failure, no one is that committed to anything for very long :)

Is it setting the bar too low that my goal is "not being miserable"?