I used to love to play baseball because next to hitting a home run, stealing bases was the most fun.  Walking to the next base, because a team mate struck out got me ahead a little, but it was not fun at all, really.  I remember that we turned the street in the neighborhood into a baseball field and played into the twilight.  What a great preparation for learning about how to do goals in life.  The games we play give us a developing sense of direction by having clear rules.

Life is not always like that.

I wouldn’t play the game if I didn’t imagine the home run.  What are the home-runs today?  We need to know.  What if we strike-out – a lot?  There are a lot of times at bat and a lot of innings.  I never quit until the game is over.  I knew the next swing would be a home-run, or I’d get on base and steal to the next.

I remember that I was never discontent or driven to get to the next base, I was just excited at the thrill of it.

Can you be on your own “first base”, whatever it is and not be discontent or driven, but rather be in the thrill of what will get you on to second base?  Often it’s the risk of going out on a limb.

That’s the skill of real goal-development.  As fast as we can do it, discontent begs to become imagination.

How fast can you turn discontent into imagination and vision and not let it become drivenness?  Are you even really playing in the game of your life or have you turned it into “flat land” or dampened its intensity for some false sense of stale peace?

In the same way I can turn a game into discontent and drivenness because I don’t think I’m winning, can I do the same with life?  How often have you been on third base and didn’t know it?  How often was that the next hitter that would have brought us home someone or something we never expected?  Play the game, know your goals, and play well into the twilight until the light is gone.

As we play into the twilight of our lives, fully alive, an inevitable theme in having goals that are malleable and that change over time is this theme than runs between “holding on” and “letting go”.

Life and its transitions are not essentially about letting go; they are about choice and attachment.  It is the fear of attachment that drives us to hold on more tightly to what we need to move away from.  It is this that will destroy our sense of direction from having goals, more than anything else.  When we know what we want to attach to, letting go is much easier.  When we focus on what we want or even kind of want, letting go is slicker.

Attachment.  It makes many shudder.  We want no more attachments, no more entanglements, and no more things (or people) to wonder about.  But we get through major life transitions when we grow toward, when we have the courage to attach, to connect, to move forward, and to define new wantings and unclaimed desires.

© Dr. William K. Larkin

About the author

Dr. William K. Larkin
  • Laura M Sparks

    Again, I love this perspective on goals. It’s like you are saying that it’s ok to not be totally satisfied and to want more. My whole belief system in the past has been to be completely content with what you have; not to want more. And it’s. It that I’m not content, I am. However, I get a sense of excitement and drive when I think about what I want and how I will get it. This drive keeps me more Alive.

  • Echo Macdonald

    Growth, attachment, vulnerability, being more alive. Forward, Ho! And away we go! I enjoy the “mid-air” aspect of vulnerability. Like swinging between the bars of a trapeze. We’ll never know unless we try. I appreciated what Brene Brown said about the TED presenters being a like a “failure” conference. You don’t have much to share unless you’ve been through the trenches of failures and successes and discovered your strengths through your failures. A new and novel approach to discovery – through the eyes of strengths applied to failure. We are all an interweaving of both. That’s what makes the beauty in a tapestry. The darks, the lights, the messy threads on the back side, the beauty that emerges on the front. Discovery, vulnerability, attachment, release, and new discoveries… The real question is, how alive do we really want to be? The risk and the thrill of it all!….

  • Dr. gloria wright

    Back to post-it notes. What do you want? With a career and kids to raise when you’re younger, the goals are a part of life. In our senior years, we need something to pull us
    forward, something to desire, but the drive may have less passion – or not….
    Connection seems to play a significant part in our lives. I love to engage. It’s when I feel the
    most alive. But attachment shifts with age. Acquiring isn’t the same at 70 as it was at 30. It seems to me that the attachment to things has shifted to live things – like time with people, time in my garden, time to muse.
    Gathering comes naturally to me. Letting go doesn’t come so easily. When I moved from Atlanta to NC it was a major downsizing. I knew it was good for me and that I needed to
    do it, but at times I was overwhelmed with the myriad of choices. What did I want in this new phase of my life? What had meaning for me?
    What new goals could come out of this stage of life without a full time career and family
    responsibilities? What choices would enhance my well-being and happiness? What
    goals would support the life I wanted to live? It was obvious that I wanted a life of meaning and purpose but one that was joyful and happy! I wanted to define my new wanting and unclaimed desires – every day! For the rest of my life. Here. Here.

  • Sheila

    I took up golf about 3 years ago and was instantly “hooked”. I remember my golf teacher telling me that it would take about 2 years to figure the game out and 5 years to be anywhere decent.

    Well, of course, I did not believe her. I really thought I was going to have it “nailed” in 6 months. I loved it, but, I also had my ego involved, so I practiced like crazy and yes, ended up with golfers elbow and horrendous tendonitis and had to take a year off!

    I went back to it and in my second year, I wasn’t quite as crazy re practising, but, still very bound up in achieving this excellence and completely unrealistic expectation that I had……my teacher would say, Sheila, get out of your head, you are ruining your game and it was true…..although I still loved to play, I used to be so disappointed if I did a bad shot, or, not break 100. I became really frustrated and contemplated giving it up……..but, then one day I went out, played dreadfully, but had such a good time with my friends, it all shifted. I gave up my attachment to having to hit a certain score and just relaxed into the fun of it all and let go……what a wonderful feeling to let go of that attachment and just play for fun and the thrill of every once in a while seeing a perfect drive fly into the blue sky…….

    I have improved since then, but, I am so at peace with the process now and the journey, it is WAY more fun…….and I know now that at some point I will meet my goals, but it does not consume me….

    I was struck by Dr Larkin’s comment about turning discontent into vision and imagination and although the golf example came easily, I can see how by just putting down my attachment to certain things, or, a way of being, other areas in my life can become fun and enriched, just like my golf game…’s all a question of perspective and choosing to be discontent, or, content on our divine journeys……for me, there are unclaimed desires to be had and my growth will come through honouring those new “wantings” and seeing it as a wondrous adventure filled with possibility.

  • Eddy Macdonald

    Life is so much like a trapeze. We are in constant transition from one rung to the other. Learning to let go of that which has gotten us this far and take hold of the next new thing that moves us forward. It’s hard. It’s scary. It’s unknown. It’s exhilarating. It’s fun. It’s a beautiful process to watch.

    Learning to play for the sake of the game is such a beautiful growing process. In hunting, we talk about the five stages: the Shooter Stage, the Limiting-Out Stage, the Trophy Stage, the Method Stage, and the Sportsman Stage. I think life is a lot like this. We go from wanting to DO, to wanting to DO it all, to wanting to be recognized for what we DO, to wanting to DO it best, to wanting to savor the process for what it is, apart from the DOING.

    I’m even noticing this as I work on my Future Pac – an increased desire for intangible states of being (thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and emotions) and less for things. Almost like the things and the roles and the titles and the goals are crutches or scaffolds or frameworks upon which we make meaning through thoughts and feelings.

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