The Means Never Justify The Ends -- If You Care About Your Values
Your ambitions can be as grand as you want them to be. What inspires you? Dream it! Yet...
Your ambitions, no matter how big, are not wrong as long as they align with your values.
However, the more attached to your timeline, the more you're in danger of "means to an end" thinking, which is the beginning of wrongdoing:
- "The goal is what matters."
- "I'll do whatever it takes to get there."
- "The outcome is more important than the journey."
- "As long as I achieve my objective, it doesn't matter how I get there."
All of these statements ignore the toll it takes on one's soul…
Should you have a timeline for achieving a goal?
It's not wrong to have a wished-for timeline for achieving your ambitions. It’s natural. Having a timeline helps you plan your actions and eliminate some less-effective steps for getting there.
For example, if you’re launching a program and want to enroll 100 people, that’s great! You will eventually be able to do it, if you keep growing your audience and announcing the program.
But if you become fixated on the timeline, for example, to enroll those 100 people in the next 3 months, you might be tempted to compromise your values by using unethical tactics to meet that deadline. Or, if you do what’s right, and don’t get to that 100 goal, you’ll be disappointed and might be discouraged about future efforts.
To practice joy or fulfillment in the process, along the way, is to be connected to your deeper values while taking action.
That kind of care about the journey is what keeps you true to your heart, and deeply happy.
Look at your expectation of how much money you will make in the next 12 months. For that monetary goal, is that a realistic timeline?
Again, your ambitions for making a certain amount of money are not unethical, but your timeline might be. The more that you require your timeline to be achieved, in order to be happy, the more unethical you must act, or the more discouraged you’ll be.
The less you require of your timeline in order to be happy, the more heartfelt you can live.
The secret of "joyful productivity" is to discover (and practice) the deep happiness that's available within the process of getting anywhere or getting things done.
The more we find that process-based deep happiness, the less attached we are to the outcome.
The more ethically (according to our values) that we can act, the more heart & soul gets infused into our actions.
Having a clear understanding of your values and ethical principles is essential for navigating the journey towards your ambitions. It provides a solid foundation for making decisions and taking action that align with what is most important to you, especially when the path ahead is uncertain.
This allows you to pursue your goals with integrity and authenticity, knowing that your actions are in line with your values.
Notice your self-talk
Statements that indicate a "means to an end" mindset include:
“I’ll do whatever it takes to get there.”
"Just gotta get this done."
"This is going to be a slog."
"This is boring."
To cultivate a fulfilling-means mindset, try saying:
"What aspect of this task can I enjoy?"
"What value am I practicing as I do this task?"
"How can I breathe Spirit into this task?"
"How can I express gratitude for the opportunity to do this?"
The subtleness of long-term growth
Showing up consistently, doing similar things, again and again, aiming to always improve bit by bit along the way, is the key to success.
Yet, few people follow this, because true growth often cannot be perceived, except for occasional bigger events like the results of a launch which hides all the gradual work that took place along the way.
Acting with a focus on the end result, the goals to achieve, means you'll underappreciate the process.
If you can find happiness in the everyday process, you'll more easily stick with it long enough to build the skills, which then bring the results.
So that's really the "deep work" I care about: the finding of meaning within the day-to-day work, when the results aren't yet obvious.