When I was young, I thought that when I finally got a job and made some money I could get what I wanted. Now I have a job and some money—not a lot of money, but enough to buy things I never expected to have, like a house and a new car. I should be able to buy my dream house. My needs are modest. Here’s what I want: A simple house in the woods, quiet, peaceful, and surrounded by nature…and within walking distance of fine restaurants and world-class live theater.
It doesn’t exist! Even if I were as rich as Midas or Bill Gates, I couldn’t have it. Conflicting goals. We run up against them all the time. The problem is that sometimes we don’t recognize the conflict until we’ve made the decision.
Drawn by the goal of peace and nature, I bought a cabin in the mountains. Ah, quiet and fresh air, the smell of pine trees. After a few days, I started to miss getting together with people with similar interests, speaking, training, technology, analysis, playing music, personal growth. I started to ask around, “What do people DO around here?” “Oh, fishing, hiking, boating.” “What about the symphony?” “The what?” “Where can you get a nice dinner around here? “Pizza or burgers?” It’s way too easy to focus on a goal that you don’t have and forget that what you have right now may be meeting some really important goals.
Fortunately, I still had my house in the city. Otherwise I would have had to give up on some of my key social and cultural goals. This just goes to show the importance of understanding all your goals (met and unmet) before making a decision. It also demonstrates that you usually have conflicting goals in any important decision.
Did you ever make a decision and later realize that you forgot about some important goals? How do you make sure you’ve considered all the important goals and constraints (without making yourself crazy)? How do you make a decision when you can’t meet all your goals because they’re in conflict?