If you're constantly focused on your goals, you'll end up living in a perpetual state of dissatisfaction - a highly successful client once explained to me.
Goals, by their definition, haven't happened yet.
On the other hand, life is happening now.
And it is in the cut and thrust of everyday life that people find the going tough, that people become derailed on their journey to getting their goals.
I often wonder why there are so many courses and seminars on goal setting and so few on goal getting.
Sure, you can learn how to visualize, how to set your mind, how to excite your subconscious.
But if everyone did what they were taught on these workshops, a lot of people would be a lot happier than they currently are.
The problem is that, when the going gets tough, the normal person gives into the dissatisfaction of the present moment.
Whereas, the present moment holds the key to actually getting your goals.
The happiest people in the world are those who are constantly achieving - look through what the University of Chicago or the University of Milan or 'Flow' by Csikszentmihalyi.
Most of the case studies centre on what might be described as people who are in the peak performance zone and who, as a result, have real and concrete results to show for it.
These real and concrete results, however, are not the luxury yachts, beachfront condos or fast cars that the average personal development 'guru' peddles as being the important things to achieve in life.
Highly successful people's real and concrete results come in the form of the satisfaction of a job well done.
And, you know, that job could be anything at all - from twisting a bolt on the production line, to tending the sheep on the hills.
Success, happiness and goal setting have been hijacked by personal development and self improvement 'gurus'.
Google 'Personal Development' and you'll see what I mean - sparklingly white-toothed, deeply tanned gurus peddling financial freedom and material wealth.
From where I'm sitting, observing the consequences of an over-focus on material wealth in my native country of Ireland, I would have thought that even the normal muddled mind might have grown a little suspicious of the race for material wealth, thinking that it would bring you happiness.
All that glitters is not gold.
The secret to happiness and success lies in the personal satisfaction that comes from actually achieving your goals.
This is quite different from the normal approach to goal setting that implies that you will only be happy when you achieve your goal - the implication being that, you're not happy at present.
You must bear in mind the obvious - you can only experience happiness in the here and now.
Think about it, when else did you think that you might actually be and feel happy? And the funny thing is that, if you know how to be happy in the here and now, the achievement of your goals becomes effortless.
Why? Because if you're immersed in the here and now, you do whatever you're doing to the very best of your ability.
Contrast this with the normal fractured mind - one part is trying to do what has to be done now, another part is looking forward to the future (even if it's only a pint with the lads on Friday night), whilst another bit is constantly droning on about how miserable life is at present.
That normal state of mind - one with which we're all afflicted to a greater or lesser extent - is the recipe for the disaster that most people call everyday life.
Contrast the normal state of mind with a focused state of mind - a mind that is singular - not fractured - one which is completely engrossed in what's happening right now and, as a consequence, has real results to show for it.
In other words, you achieve your goals by focusing your mind - not on your goals but on what you're doing right here, right now.
To be sure, you must have some relevant understanding of the things that you want out of life - but the more general the better because, when our goals are too specific, we blinker ourselves to all the potentially better opportunities that are all around us.
But beyond having that general idea of what you want out of life, what you've got to realize is that that life you're talking about can actually only be lived in the here and now.
You'd better start living it! In short, happiness and success are achieved by being properly focused in the present moment.
Proper focus will ensure that you don't waste your time - a constant source of frustration to those who are trying to improve their lives.
Proper focus will ensure that, right now, you're doing the most appropriate thing that you could be doing.
Proper focus will ensure that you're doing that appropriate thing to the best of your ability.
As a result, you'll have concrete results to show for it and an inner satisfaction that's foreign to the normal forward-looking mind.
Above all, proper focus will open your mind to the reality of the here and now - with all its possibilities, opportunities and potential.
In other words, proper focus will open you up to taking directions far more exciting and rewarding than the normal goals you would have set for yourself.
Copyright (c) 2011 Willie Horton