“We do not know what we want and yet we are responsible for what we are – that is the fact.”
– Jean Paul Sartre
About a week or so ago I posted some Sartre quotes & promised to share my thoughts on this famous Existentialist’s words. The above quote has always sparked deep ideas in my mind. Let me expand on some of my thoughts…
We are born, creatures in this existence, with endless Possibility laid out before us. Anything & everything is Possible. All it takes is for us to decide – to Choose what we want. Yet the problem is we rarely know what we want. Sure, we are told a lot of things as we grow up & experience the world around us. Our parents, our teachers, our friends & society in general tell us all about the good life & what we should expect & want out of it. Yet do any of these things Truly equate with what we want as Individuals?
As the second half of the quote says, we are responsible for all the we are & all that we do. We suffer the consequences of each & every Choice we make. Whether these consequences are positive, neutral or negative – we suffer them equally. In this way, we learn, we experience & we progress toward the goals we set for ourselves. But how do we set these goals? How do we know what we want?
First you have to know yourself. You have to be in tune with who you really are & try to ignore the barrage of input from outside sources. This may mean asking yourself some hard questions. It may mean deep meditation. It might mean spending a lot of time alone in one of your favourite places – undisturbed by anyone else. Turn off your TV, your cell phone, your wi-fi connections & get in touch with yourself. Bring those deep things you keep hidden away out into the open & really examine who you are, what you think & why you think the things that you do. It might mean critically analyzing everything you think & discarding those things that are inconsistence or obviously False.
Once you know yourself & understand what you Believe & why you think the way you do, the next step is determining your goals. Now there are many methods out there for goal setting, but what I have found is that you have to dream big. The most rewarding achievements are the big goals you’ve always dreamed of. Maybe you want to climb a mountain. Maybe you would like to publish a book. Maybe it is simply recognition of your skill in a particular area. Whatever the goal, make sure it means the world to you. Make sure that it is something you have always dreamed of doing.
The last step is, I would say, the hardest: focus all your energy on achieving the goal. Do not let anything stand in your way. Make achieving the goal part of your daily routine – do at least one thing every day that works toward the goal. Do this until the goal is achieved.
So what do you do when you achieve your goal? Start the process again. Set a new goal & then go out & achieve it. A rewarding life is a process of achieving one goal after another. This is how we progress. This is how we find fulfillment & happiness. Know what you want, go out & get it & then be responsible for your actions. Your life will be fuller & happier.