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8.7. Goals


How To Invent (Almost) Anything > 8. The Motivating Fire > 8.7. Goals

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Despite having deep drivers, we do not go around the place saying ‘How can I satisfy my need for a sense of control?’ or ‘How can I gain the approval of my peers?’ but we nevertheless act to address these fundamental needs. We do this through setting ourselves goals, through wanting specific things, whether it is to become a rock star or to scale more geographic peaks, or simply to find shelter from a storm.

So how do we create these goals? Beyond the more basic short-term goals such as not being run-over as we cross the road or finding a satisfying meal, the larger goals in our lives often only appear after deep musings and pondering about the world, as in Fig. 8.7. We sometimes try goals on like a suit of clothes, and even wear them around for a while to see if they feel comfortable. A child may want to be a fireman one day and a rocket scientist a week later, whilst adults think long and hard, seeking deeper goals such as building their own business to make themselves financially secure (and thus achieve a greater sense of control!).

Fig. 8.7 Factors leading to personal goals

Goal-setting start with a consideration of possibilities. When planning a garden, we might consider creating a splendid riot of ever-changing colour throughout the summer, or we may accept that we are not that green-fingered and just settle for a bit of greenery. We first think, ‘what is possible’, then sort out the best option for us.

A problem here is that we can tend to eliminate a number of the options with self-limiting talk like ‘I’m not good enough do that,’ which we then rapidly support and confirm with excuses such as ‘I haven’t got the time, anyway.’ The alternative is to take Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s advice and seek an ‘achievable challenge,’ stretching the boundaries of what we believe we can do. Achieving goals that we thought almost impossible gives us the buzz, the ‘eureka moment’ in which all inventors revel.

A simple way of realising that challenging goals really are achievable is to consider how many inventors were actually ordinary people, and not brilliant geniuses. All they did was dare to dream.

Necessity is the mother of invention, as Plato said, and one of the simplest ways of making ourselves more creative is to want. If we can convince ourselves that we really need something and that it is essential to our future happiness, then the internal tension that is created can become a powerful lever to goad our subconscious idea engine into action.

If you want to work in India then the first step is to put a big map of India on the wall and just keep looking at it. Your mind will find the solution!

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