Dreamer or Pragmatist, Part II

To Do List
To Do List (Photo credit: Mrs Magic)

I have been thinking a lot lately about goals. There’s been an empire of self-help books built on Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Timely goals, goals that get results. Michael Hyatt, in his recent book Platform, devotes a good deal of time to the subject, giving helpful examples like: “Make one hundred thousand dollars a year doing what I love. Lose 25 pounds and complete a half marathon.” Think big, he says; write down the vision for what you set out to do and work backwards. If I want to lose 25 pounds, what will I have to do? How many calories to cut? How many miles to jog?

It is pragmatic, effective, logical. You decide what you’re going for and dissect the goal into small steps. But where is the intersection of faith and action, dreams and practicality? What if the goals are the wrong goals? It strikes me that there is a big difference between being goals and doing goals — who is it I want to be vs. what is it I want to do? For a writing career, it might look like this:

impactful writing career vs. NYT bestseller list
with discipline, write every day vs. produce one published work every year
pursue excellence in a variety of forms, challenging myself vs. narrowly focus on a currently hot niche and develop a brand
writing as vocation vs. earn a specific dollar amount yearly

The SMART goals, the ones you can really work toward, might propel you into incredible success, but the vaguer, being goals, might shape you into the writer you really want to be. Jane Austen was surely the least popular of her contemporaries, but who remembers any of them? Austen didn’t write to bring home the bacon, and in her lifetime she saw little success, but today she is studied and much-loved. Hyatt would argue that you won’t so much as get a chance to be heard if you aren’t strategic; I can’t disagree. But who will you be at the end of the day?

Dreamer or pragmatist? Part I

Dream!
Dream! (Photo credit: Melody Campbell)

I have been thinking a lot lately about desire, the deeply rooted longings that define our unique identities. John Eldredge writes, “We are desire. It is the essence of the human soul, the secret of our existence. Absolutely nothing of human greatness is ever accomplished without it. Not a symphony has been written, a mountain climbed, an injustice fought, or a love sustained apart from desire. Desire fuels our search for the life we prize. Our desire, if we will listen to it, will save us from committing soul-suicide, the sacrifice of our hearts on the altar of ‘getting by.'” Eldredge believes, like C.S. Lewis, that desire is a gift that draws us towards truth, towards God. Dreams, vision, are not meant to be squelched, they are our teachers. We’d do well to pay attention.

But obviously desire can get us into trouble. Just as all great accomplishments come from desire, so do all the horrors ever unleashed on the world. Some person’s twisted desire has been responsible for every crime, every war, every evil. So how do you discern whether a desire is God-given and good, or a distraction from something better, or just purely wrong?

More to follow on goal-setting, prayer, and how to get where it is you wanna go… How about you? Are you a dreamer or a pragmatist?