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Happiness is not a destination

In the past couple of months, I have been asking everyone I know what their uber goal in life is. What is that one thing (or maybe more) that they want to achieve by the time they are eighty? And now, I pose the same question to you.

What is your uber goal in life? Think about it for a while before you read on.

I have got a variety of answers to this, although the majority of the people I asked this responded immediately by saying they have no idea. And that's perfectly fine. I had no idea too. Until I thought about it.

After returning from my trip to Corsica, I decided that my uber goal in life is to spend a few years each in various parts of the world (Western Europe, Eastern Europe, US, Latin America, Africa, Middle East, Australia, Korea-Japan, Russia, Singapore, and maybe more), and to imbibe what these places have to offer in terms of culture, places to see, food, and the people. As a writer, the more varied the experiences the more the excitement and enthusiasm for me. And this will now act as a guiding principle for any decisions that I make. It will either be consistent with this or it won't, and that becomes a good first filtering criteria while deciding on anything.

Of course, if you ask me ten years from now, I might not have the same uber goal. And that is something I'm OK with. Because, the world is constantly changing and we need to adapt and keep moving with the times. At the same time, it doesn't mean that I'll have a different uber goal if you ask me what mine is tomorrow or a month from now or maybe even a year from now. And that is the litmus test for what you decide to be your uber goal in life.

Coming back to the various answers I got from people, some of them seemed to describe situations or states of mind rather than something a little more concrete. "I want to be content with the life I've lived", "I want to be living with the people I love" are such examples. While some others were a lot more specific, like "I want to attain financial freedom by the time I'm 35", "I want to be the founder of a billion dollar company", "I want to visit every country in the world" and "I want to be the CEO of a big company".

When probed one level deeper as to why they wanted to achieve any of these things, the next level was a constant across everyone. The next level was "I want to be happy and content".

Is this to say we aren't happy and content until we achieve these things? And if we are happy and content without these things, then what does achieving these really doing to us? Is it really worth the effort? Or is it merely the feeling that we have these goals and are working towards them that makes us happy and content? I'm seeking the answers to these myself.

But the answer to the first of these questions is clearly a no. It is not true that we aren't happy and content until we achieve these goals. Because happiness is not a destination. It is not something we reach at the end of a path and settle down at. If you do end up achieving your uber goal, you'll then need a new one. A new destination. If it were a destination, we'd find the shortest path to it, get there and squat.

Instead, happiness is transient. It comes and goes. Like hunger and tiredness. So, an uber goal that we have is only a guide to evaluating the options we come across. It is what helps us put a value on the opportunities that arise. But it is not a finish line that we are sprinting towards.

As Steve Jobs famously said, "You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future."

And having an uber goal is how you trust that the dots will connect.

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