Fictivity: Setting a Goal


The usual advice that you can read in a thousand other books about achieving goals is to set the goal and then break that goal down into achievable targets and plan how to achieve those. That’s all very well and can work.

But when you take a closer look at the mechanics of what is occurring, it becomes clear that what drives this little machine is the emptiness between the starting point and the goal.

In other words, let’s say you had a goal to have more money. You can break this down into as many sub-targets as you wish — but the force driving you through each sub-target towards the overall goal is the big emptiness created as soon as you set the goal. If you were to suddenly find the amount of money that you set the goal to achieve, that particular machine would stop.

Desire creates emptiness; emptiness moves us.

Sometimes breaking the goal down into smaller, do-able parts, as recommended in many writings about goal setting, works to reduce this driving power. A tiny target of ‘Send out five emails today’ has less innate power than ‘Make a million’. The vacuum created by that absent million is what needs to be kept at the forefront of one’s mind to keep the goal-achieving machine running. Larger goals and challenges possess more vacuum power.

To put it even more simply will reduce it to an almost absurd tautology. But here goes:

If I want a new kitchen table and a new kitchen table exactly like the one I want suddenly appears in front of me, what happens to my want? It vanishes. I have no need to go to the furniture shop. I have no need to move at all.

If I want a new kitchen table, what is it that makes me get up and go and get one? The absence of that table, the fact that it is missing, the vacuum created by its absence coupled with my desire to fill that absence.

It would be as though there is a vacuum, shaped exactly like the table I want, sitting in the middle of the room. What will it take to fill it? Something will have to happen; things will have to occur in the universe; action will have to take place. Is this action caused by the table?

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