I have always been told I need goals; in fact, you may recall I’ve written several Friday Food for Thoughts on the topic. Goals are good to have as they give us a variety of benefits: they provide us with motivation and make us focus, and when we reach them we feel a sense of accomplishment. Yet, just having a goal is not good enough; we need to do the work and complete what needs to be done in order to feel that sense of accomplishment.
Accomplishments are also important; they give us a sense of pride, and when we complete something that we’ve been working towards, we’re elated! This happens because when we accomplish something our brain releases dopamine, a hormone that is associated with happiness and joy.
There is a quote in the Avot de Rabbi Natan that I heard a few years ago, “Don’t be afraid of work that never ends.” I did not understand the quote because I believe things should have a beginning, a middle and an end. How else can I accomplish my goals to get that dopamine hit and feel joy and happiness? It is years later and I still have not been able to let this quote go. I believe in order to hit a goal and feel a sense of achievement, there needs to be finality.
As I think about this, I realize there are things that I may never achieve. Take gratitude for instance; I strive to feel grateful in all situations, and while I usually am, occasionally I miss the mark. Does that mean I should stop striving to appreciate everything I have? I don’t believe so. I get a certain feeling of happiness when I am grateful and it is a good thing. I am blessed with a charmed life and I have worked hard to achieve it, but I do know that I take things for granted on occasion; bad on me. Just because I am not grateful all the time does not mean I should not stop doing the work of feeling grateful. The work of being grateful for many of us has no end, though maybe there’s an end for the Dalai Lama! I also believe the same can be said of doing good. When I do good, I feel good, and the action of trying to do good is never ending.
Many of life’s most inspired actions are a constant work in progress, such as being kind and doing good deeds for others or being grateful. In that sense, the Avot de Rabbi Natan makes sense. We must consistently put the work in to maintain these on-going goals.
“Don’t be afraid of the future as it’s always uncertain. Your mind and hands together can make your future better. So, don’t spend time thinking while doing nothing.” ― Giridhar Alwar
Have a never-ending weekend ? Now there is a good thought!