Impossible GoalsIf you've ever read anything about goal setting, you've no doubt heard about SMART goals.
SMART stands for Simple, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely. Basically, if the research is to be believed, all of your goals should meet this criteria. For example, your goal shouldn't be "I want to loose weight" because it's not simple, there's no time frame for accomplishing it and how do you measure it? When do you know if you've accheieved this goal? How do you know when you're done? You don't. A better goal would be, "I want to loose 10 pounds by August 30." See how much better that is? You know when you're done and you can measure your progress along the way, which keeps you motivated. Studies have shown that you are much more likely to succeed.
Now, SMART goals have their place. In fact, 99% of your goals should be SMART goals. But there is also a place for impossible goals. I believe everyone should have at least one impossible goal. Something unattainable, but no less worth the pursuit of it.
My impossible goal is to Know Everything.
Knowing everything is, of course, impossible. But my quest for infinite knowledge will make me an overall better and more interesting person. So why shouldn't I strive for that?
It's not simple, there's no time line, I can't measure it and by it's very nature it's not attainable. That's no reason not to try.
So I'll start with a story that's not really all that interesting, but best explains what I'm getting at here.
As I'm sure I've mentioned, I work in a call center. One day, we got an e-mail that that informed us right in the subject that there was a Fun new Contest!!! going on. This prompted me to explain to my cynically like minded co-workers one of the things in life that I completely love - Things That Have to Tell You They are Going to be Fun.
If something has to tell you it's going to be fun, chances are it's stupid. There is a 99% probability that you are going to roll your eyes at it. And do I ever love a good eye roll.
My favourite part of it, though, is that this fact goes completely over the head of marketers who slather the word fun all over the packaging of their new awful product or managers that assure their underlings that this contest/meeting/holiday party/team building retreat will, in fact, be fun.
Guys, you are not fooling anyone.
This all lead to a discussion on a related thing I love: Foods that, on the label, have to assure you they are in fact a food. Often, I'm sure, there is some kind of legal reason for this distinction, but still, it makes me laugh. Take for instance, Potted Meat Food Product. I first head about this product years ago on The Sneeze, when Steve Reviewed it (sort of?). The word Meat and the fact that it's likely located in the food isle should be enough to alert you to the fact that this is a food product and not some kind of horrifying joke. But there it is, right on the label, in case you weren't quite sure.
Now, I've never eaten Potted Meat Food Product, so I'm not making any judgements on it's tastiness or about the people that choose to eat it. I just don't think I want to put anything into my body that has to tell me explicitly that it is food. Unless society has collapsed and/or there are zombies. In the choice between eating a Food Product and starving to death...well, you know.
Now, on to the epic search. I am on a quest. Maybe not a quest. I don't know. Anyway. I am in search of the ultimate product label - One that both proclaims that it is Fun and a Food Product. It is my dream that some day I will find such a product, and it will be glorious. My life wont be complete or anything, but it will make me furiously happy. And isn't that what life's all about?
Let's attempt to tie this all together, shall we?
The thing about impossible goals and epic searches is that they ensure that your life always has meaning and direction.
...that's not really worded well. Life always has meaning and direction, but we can't always see it. Maybe you work in a job that you hate, and although you've been working hard to change this fact it hasn't been going great and now you're depressed and just want to hide in bed. Or maybe you have real problems that I can't even begin to comprehend. Even the mildest of depressions can make regular goals seem pointless and impossible. The very point of impossible goals is that, while impossible, they are still worth pursuing. And your epic search gives you hope that, possibly, just around the next corner is something so epic that you can't help but jump for joy.
And when life is good? Working toward impossible goals and searching for things that make this weird world of ours a more wonderful and perplexing place just make things even better. And there is nothing wrong with that.