What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.

Henry David Thoreau

As synchronicity would have it, this quote, which I’ve used so many times, winds up as another’s comment in a discussion I’m reading through on LinkedIn. That’s because we are all connected. I’m certain you’ve all had moments, events, that seem coincidental. Don’t overlook these occurrences. Pay attention to them; they may prove more meaningful than you’d think.

On with the chosen quote. Thoreau, as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, has influenced me in many ways. This time, we should look carefully at what’s been written here.

‘What you get’ implies that goals are things or heights we strive to obtain in order of some importance to us. The end result seems the final destination. What’s in it for me? Sometimes it’s the body we desire after countless days spent in the gym. Sometimes it’s the degree we’ve earned through years of reading and writing papers. The end result. Yes. Ahhhh

‘What you get by achieving your goals’ leaves out the journey, the means to the end result. Think of this: there’s a mountain over there, lets call it your goal. You could reach the top by helicopter, yet nothing is gained in this manner. Would you know the terrain to make the journey again? No. That would be like cheating on a test and ‘getting’ a good grade. You still don’t know the material, so the reward isn’t yours. You’d need to continue to cheat, but the result remains unknown as a vast canyon. There’s something about stomping up the side of the mountain a step at a time, maybe slipping a little too, that helps you understand yourself a bit more.

Think of a time when you’ve achieved something rather fantastic. Did getting the thing, the trophy, the degree, the job leave you almost with a sense of emptiness? Were you still looking for the triumph to last longer than it did? Did you ask, “Is this it?” Perhaps you’ve forgotten to stop at each small step along the way in your journey to the end result and assess what has happened to you as a person. This is the most important part of your hike to the peak. What did you add to your character on the way? Are you more efficient at time management? Did you recognize where you slacked? Will you be able to understand now how to get past the snags? How have you changed?

Try a free questionnaire provided by the Via Institute. It’s a character test. Do the test now, and at a later date (perhaps after achieving a goal, like starting a budget) to test how much you’ve improved or evolved.

Here’s the site address:

Becoming Self Aware is the first and best thing you can do for you. Find out what your character strengths are; you’ll be glad you did.