Work harder than usual at your most important goal.
Tha hard part is not working harder. The hard part is knowing which goal is the most important.
I am going to retake my sailing exam, and would be very embarrassed if I fail again. So I have to work harder at studying at learning the sailing basics. But if I do fail, would it be the end of the world?
I am going to Finnmark in a month to talk about swearing, and that is a more important goal. That will be a job, and I would like to do a good job. But if I don’t, if I do a merely OK job, if I am not invited to talk about swearing anywhere again, will that be the end of the world?
What about my goal of being a good father and husband? What about my goal of being a good person? What about being happy?
My most important goal cannot be to do a good job in Finnmark, or any other job. There are other more important things than your job. Sure, I would feel bad, but I would manage to find a silver lining and be happy if things go wrong. I will find ways of being happy anyway (or: I will be just as miserable or happy as I always am.)
My most important goal is being happy, then? Yes, but there are different happinesses. One happiness is that feeling you have when you are falling in love, or do drugs, or eat candy, or bungee jump: that fleeting feeling of euphoria you chase after when you chase happiness. The short-term happiness, the one without a future.
I am not talking about that kind of happiness.
My most important goal is the happiness which comes from doing the right thing. My most important goal is being happy when I am doing what I should be doing. This happiness is being in love. This happiness is not as intense, but it’s longer-lasting. This happiness is the feeling of having done right and good, of accomplishing, of being nice, of having epanded your horizon.
My most important goal is knowing what creates this kind of happiness, and then doing it, and being happy doing it, even when it doesn’t make me instantly happy. Even when it makes me unhappy.
My most important goal is becoming a better person.
And to find out how to become a better person, I must think about it. I must have a conversation between my different selves, the one who wants to walk barefoot across Norway and the one who wants to stay indoors, the one who wants to train and the one who wants to sleep, the one who wants to be with people and the one who wants to be alone. To do that, my different selves must express themselves — ie, they must write.
OK, I’ll keep on writing. It’s my best shot at getting closer to my most important goal.