How to Know Thyself

I believe that one of the biggest problems that people face, in terms of our personal selves is that we too often get lost in a means goal, and not going straight for the end goal.

A means goal is a path to an end goal. We get lost in “I need to drive to the next city” and not “I need to get to the next city.” What happens if the car is broken? Or the roads closed? Then we must do battle to focus on making the car go from A to Z, and we fail to consider other alternatives. Having someone drive us, the bus, the train, airplanes, boats.

Then again, is getting to the next city even the goal? Or is it also a means goal? Perhaps it is, to spend time with loved ones. That would be an end goal. Perhaps it is not, but to have an interview, to get a job, do pay the bills. What if paying the bills is really the end goal? Makes focusing on driving seem silly, doesn’t it?

Example: “I believe that promoting X makes me a good person.”

Promoting the idea is a means goal, “being a good person” would be the end goal. It is my experience that when we directly work on being a good person, that we get tangible results sooner, because we focus on the elements of the goal: what are the criteria that I can measure that will allow me to ascertain whether I am in fact, a good person?

When we do this, we often realize that the means goal would not have gotten us to where we want to be, or that there are better, simpler, quicker and less energy intensive ways of getting to that goal.

I’ve often had difficulty with the concept of “know thyself.”

The answer, it turns out is simple: know your needs, your goals, your strengths, weaknesses, habits and preferences.

If you know your needs, you’ll know your goals. If you know your goals, you can evaluate what strengths or weaknesses, habits and preferences bear on the achieving the goal.

When you know these things, and put them all in order, life becomes much simpler and more pleasant.

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