Enhance inner peace and power: Goals vs. desires

Knowing the difference between a goal and a desire has saved careers and given many financial advisors a new lease on why they do what they do. Yet, many people operate with the wrong perspective because they don’t understand the huge difference between a goal and a desire. By understanding this, you as a financial advisor can increase both your productivity and inner peace.

It’s easy to see why this is a struggle though. The toughest life decision I know is figuring out whether to let go or to hang on to something — whether it’s a relationship, a project or even a career path. I believe this is because there are two competing voices in our heads. One voice says, Where’s your faith? Keep on keeping on. Don’t quit. Persevere. Hang in there. And that’s a good voice. 

Then there’s another voice that says loud and clear, Where’s your wisdom? If the horse is dead, get off the horse. If it’s not working here, go fish somewhere else. Faith versus wisdom. The toughest choice I know. That’s a life decision. And everybody faces it every single day.

Everyone wants peace on the inside and productivity on the outside. We want things to fit together. In this world, though, it’s a mess. That’s where the one principle comes in that has radically changed my life.

You can’t control what you’re not meant to

My revelation came after I poured out my troubles to a friend. After he listened to me, he told me this: “You’re attempting to control things that you were never intended to control at all. You are attempting to be responsible for people, and you can only be responsible to people. Stop it. The gate of change can only be opened from within. You can never change another person any more than you can change the weather. People are out of your control.

“You can set the sail on a boat, but you cannot bring the wind. All you can do is your best. All you can do is, in fact, all you can do,” my friend said.

He told me I was laboring under a false premise about goal setting, and it’s messed me up in a few key areas.

Recognizing goals

My friend defined a goal like this: “A goal is that which you alone own and you alone can accomplish. It is dependent upon no one else. You alone accomplish a goal not dependent on anyone else.”

Understanding desire

A desire, he said, is just the opposite. A desire is that which is out of your control and is dependent upon someone else to help you accomplish it. They are polar opposites. Most people who set goals really are setting desires that are out of their control because they involve other people.

Putting in the work

Just because results are out of your control does not mean you’re passive. You still work. If I want to catch a fish, I’ve got to bait the hook and put it in the water. If I want to farm, I’ve got to plant and nourish the seed. I can’t increase the crop though. That’s up to someone else in terms of rain, etc. But I must do my part. I have got to be involved in activities.

Furthermore, good goal setting is scheduled, and it is predictable. If you cannot put this on your day timer or your calendar, it is not a good goal. If you can’t predict it and schedule it, then it’s out of your control and is a desire. Put it on your calendar and schedule it in a predictable way because you alone can control that.

You hold goals with a tight hand, yet you hold desires with a loose hand.

All you can do is all you can do. Your company is not asking you to do any more than that. Your unit is not asking you to do any more than your best. Focus on what you can control and leave the rest for the loose hand.

This was excerpted from the 2017 MDRT Annual Meeting presentation “The power of planning: Goals vs. desires,” where Marshall outlines a three-month plan that increases outward productivity and gives inner peace. This is an MDRT member exclusive.

Randy Marshall, of Dallas, Texas, USA, founded and leads Speaker’s College, a Dallas-based communications training company formed to improve the communication and leadership skills of executives. He’s also played on the Kansas City Royals baseball team.

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