Real Simple magazine posed the question: What are your top three lifelong goals? This is a fairly simple question when first read, but it takes on depth as you think about it. Two nights ago, sitting on the front porch enjoying the early evening warmth and sun, my husband, our 19-year-old pseudo-son and I discussed the question. It was immediately interesting to note that, at 50, my husband and I have goals that go beyond the routine; they are more in line with Maslow’s level of self-actualization. Our 19-year-old friend, however, had goals that were related to the more primitive needs of employment, confidence and resources. Our top goals, even lifelong goals, can and should change as we complete our education, advance in careers, tuck experiences under our belts. What was a dreamlike goal in our 20’s or 30’s might move up to a top position as other, more crucial, lifelong goals are achieved. Perhaps one of the benefits of getting older is that we have, hopefully, achieved the lower levels of Maslow’s hierarchy and can begin to focus more on that which will truly enhance our lives; goals that we want to accomplish “just because”, not because they will pay our bills and put food on our tables.
As we discussed the question, we also wondered about whether these types of lifelong goals are the same as what you’d want to do if, tomorrow, the doctor gave you six months to live (as in The Bucket List). If I had only six months to live, I think the goals I would want to accomplish, would probably not reflect my top three lifelong goals. I’ve struggled with that conflict. If my lifelong goals are different from what I would do with only six months to live, does that mean that the lifelong goals really aren’t that important? Supposedly the activities I would want to partake in for the next six months would be those that are truly most important to me so shouldn’t those activities be my top lifelong goals? It’s a conundrum. I do know that my number one lifelong goal is to write and publish a book and, if I were given just six months to live, I would want to write, write, write – to my children, to my friends. The two goals aren’t exactly the same, but they’re close enough that, for now, I’ll just keep writing.