I’ve seen it happen time and time again, and you probably have too. Someone we love one day, later in life, is miserable wondering why they never accomplished what they really desired. Or maybe they did check all of the items off of their list, but aren’t fulfilled or happy.
The biggest reason for this feeling? Most of us tend to confuse a “means” goal with an “end” goal. End goals are the things in our life that make us feel alive and truly happy, like we’re living our life on purpose. When we identify them, they serve as our compass, a roadmap to make sure we’re living our life in alignment of who we really are and where we want to go.
Means goals are the things society tells us we need to accomplish to be “successful.” These are the things like going to college, getting a degree or getting a certain job title. A lot of times, it’s the path our parents told us we needed to take.
I used to think that’s how life worked, too. I took the traditional path, went to college, got a degree and did a bunch of internships, all so I could work at a world-leading PR agency. Then, year after year, I climbed the ladder, going after means goals, which led to burnout after burnout. I eventually woke up and realized I wasn’t really happy. It’s all because I confused the end goals with the means goals.
For entrepreneurs to truly be successful, we must identify our end goals, and pursue them without restraint. The most successful and happy people I’ve met built companies that lit them up, not companies that just made them money. They understand the difference between end and means goals.
To discover your true motivators and set yourself on the right path to a happy and successful life, answer these three questions.
1. What do I want to experience out of life?
Make a list of all the experiences you want to have in your life. Big or small, these are all the things you’d do if time and money weren’t considerations. Here are a few categories and questions to help get you thinking about the experiences that matter to you in every aspect of your life:
Life experiences: Would you want to travel? What would you want to see? Where would you want to go? Do you want to go skydiving or to a certain music festival?
Health and fitness: Do you wish you had more time to devote to exercise, a sport or a particular food plan?
Relationships: Whether it’s seeking out a new love or spending more time with significant other, write down any relationship and love goals you hope to reach one day.
Family, friends and social life: What experiences do you want to share with your friends and family? If you are or want to be a parent, include that as well.
Home life: What type of car would you buy? What does your dream house look like? Where do you want to live?
Career: Include the big milestones (starting a company, scaling, etc.) as well as smaller goals (secure speaking engagements, move offices, launch a retreat).
2. How do I want to grow?
Life shouldn’t move sideways, instead up or down. I believe we truly become fulfilled when we continuously grow ourselves. What are the various ways you might want to grow to become the best, most creative, happiest version of yourself? Think about:
Intellectual life: Do you want to become a better writer or speaker? Learn a new language? A new trade?
Character traits: Do you want to be a better leader? More honest, vulnerable or authentic?
Spiritual life: How are you growing your spirituality? Are you meditating regularly? What are your beliefs that you want to grow?
3. What do I want to contribute?
When you give back to others, even in a small way, life gives back to you. Regardless of where you currently are in life, make a list on how you might want to contribute to the planet in some way. Consider:
Family and friends: How are you contributing to your friends or family life? Spending time with your grandparents? Raising incredible children?
Art and passions: Do you want to contribute to the world through painting, music, writing, etc.?
Career and workplace: Are you working at or creating a company whose mission really aligns with yours? How are you giving back to the world through your career?
Community: How are you giving back? Do you want to volunteer some of your time? Serve as a mentor to someone?
As an entrepreneur, it’s vitally important that you have a firm knowledge of what drives you, what really motivates you to succeed. It’s like a blueprint to your soul. Print out or post those goals somewhere where you can see them every day, and revisit them as often as you can. Work on visualizing them, so you can begin to see your future, where you can almost taste it, touch it and it becomes real for you. When you focus on keeping your end goals in mind, rather than means goals, you’ll discover its power in helping you be unstoppable in reaching your dreams.