How we want to be

We’re all brought up to imagine someone we should become.  Forget should, it’s so ingrained in us, it is now what we want to become.  For some of us, this is related to a professional accomplishment.  For some, it is a fashion sense, or community respect, or sex appeal of a tough, or sentimental or artistic variety.  These are all variations on what we’ve been taught success is.

If you were raised by hippies, you imagine a fit, dreamy-eyed yoga guru with impeccable self-discipline, colorful clothes, long hair and a pocket full of vegan snacks.  If you were raised by elite intellectuals, then it’s a frantically striving writer producing genius insights from behind a double whiskey and a cigarette, traveling the world to debate lofty ideas on velvet couches and pulling wit out of the inside pockets of your mismatched blazer… Maybe a business owner who is always in control, always impeccably dressed.  A dynamic leader able to both motivate and drive potential from individuals and then ruthlessly destroy an economy with HIS pen.

It sounds silly, but I think most goals are rooted in a yearning to fit an archetype of some sort or the other.  We want to improve in a certain way to be closer to an ideal, it’s all part of the package.  But it seems to me that all humans actually crave only 3 things:

  • a state of flow (focus and challenge without frustration)
  • a state of ease (relaxation without guilt)
  • a state of connectedness (belonging without fear)

Why is so much goal setting rooted in becoming an archetype of the complete man/woman and not on the basis of environmental / perception shifts which create what I’m calling “ideal human states?”

Instead of looking buff, let’s strive to be well enough to play sports so we can have flow, ease, and connectedness (all in one!).  Or to keep our bodies healthy, so we have the energy and self-discipline to achieve flow (not mastery!).

Instead of trying to master a style or an effect to gain admiration, we should look to foster a deeper understanding of our quirks, and how we affect others.

Instead of practicing our guitar to become a famous musician, maybe our goal should be simply to practice it for the feeling of flow that comes from it?

Whenever I’m asked or asking myself to set goals, this questions arises in me, why?  I know that being still, is to be moved by time, but move to where?  To what end?

Instead of asking what we want to be, let’s ask how we want to be

Jacob Singh
CTO in residence at Sequoia Capital. Independent product and Engineering Coach Mediocre guitarist, singer, rock climber, point guard and baker Dedicated dad. American in New Delhi.
New Delhi