Goals and Existence

Many thoughts arrive at a point where we ponder what we want in life and how much it's unknown to us. Doesn't matter what we do, try, or think; it's almost impossible to find our wishes for the end of our life. Where do we want to be in the future while taking our last breaths?

Answering a question like that is almost impossible. We have no idea what we will see, live through, remember, and forget. The question is about one thing; it reduces all the factors and experiences into one parameter: a goal, The Goal.

And I have problems with that goal.

Having a life goal doesn't make that goal happen magically.

If we have a goal like "I want to be wealthy," then we may never reach that point and live a miserable life trying to reach it. Whatever we do today won't make us feel we achieved anything because our action does not result in today. The wealth will never be today, even if we are a billionaire.

If we have a goal like "Travel thirty countries," then once we're done, we're done. Yet, life goes on. When we reach a point, we get our reward, and it's done.

On the other hand, without any goals, we can focus on what to do every day—choosing our daily habits and routine. We define our daily lives and shape our paths while keeping the options open. In this carpe diem life, how do we define a long-term plan? Furthermore, how can we define our daily habits that result in the life we want in the end?

We rarely know what we want today. How can anyone know what they want in the long term? I only know what I like now, not tomorrow, and definitely not in a week.

Do you see the fundamental problem?

Let's say I have a goal; how will I know it will be what I want after three months? Meanwhile, if I have a daily habit, how can I ensure that it will result in something that I will want in three months? What if I waste my time on all these habits?

I may sound negative, but I'm not. I'm questioning.

A while ago, I abandoned all my goals. Having goals did not do better for me. At that time, I asked myself what would be my high-level goals so that I at least stay on track. Now, I'm questioning the existence of a track.

How would any track be possible and keep me on the way I want to go? At the same time, if I have no goal at all in my life, how can I prevent wasting my time on useless habits and routines? Do I have to have useful habits? Maybe healthy ones are a must. But I'm unsure about its usefulness. What is the definition of useful?

Do you follow what I'm saying? How can we define the usefulness of anything?

Is reading a book useful? What about a bad book that ends up as a waste of time for us?

Is playing an instrument useful? What about we stop playing after three months?

What about spending hours on social media like Instagram? How about we follow all useful and informative accounts on Instagram?

Do you see the problem? Who decides the usefulness of a thing?

If I watch YouTube for hours but only informative videos, did I do something useful or waste my time?

The same dilemma exists in goals. If we have worthwhile goals (specific or high-level ones), we will be unhappy right after we reach one and look to the next. If we have no goal at all, how can we decide which habits and routines we will build so that we will reach a point that will pay out as useful in the future?

You might say, "Candost, even if you stop the habit after six months, you still learn something." Yes, that's true.

But what if I keep doing it for twenty years—start and stop habits? What would you say then? You will see Candost, the master of none, reached nowhere and struggled to find the path of their life.

Do you recognize the problem? What is the way out of this? What am I missing?

I can't claim that I have (or will have) answers. I only have my questions. I don't think anyone has any answers.

Sometimes, I think, people—like you and me—avoid these questions. I went on a small quest to seek some answers.

On a warm sunny evening in the west of Turkey, I asked my father, "Did you have any time in your life in which you questioned your purpose or aim of your life?" He gave me an answer that was—and still is—mind-boggling. It was so simple, yet, shocking.

He put down the glass of rakı that he just took a big sip, reached to the glass of cold water to soften the rakı's strong taste, and looked at the garden next to where his chair stood. He said, "No, never, and ever. I had my wife and kids. I was, and still am, the happiest man in the world." He is retired, lives in a summer house, and turned 60 this year. He knew what he was talking about.

But my mind was confused after hearing about my father's aimless life. His goal was to raise his children as well-educated people who are good to society. I can't say if he reached his goal but this goal stroke me with another perspective.

What if all I'm feeling is the mechanism of human survival and reproduction? What if our instincts, which are evolved over thousands of years, say that our goal is reproduction, and if you have no kids, you will wander? What if the questions are not a cause but the result of our thousands of years old instincts?

I kept observing other people and asking them about their goals. The results are not surprising: many people who don't have kids have similar questions in their minds, while folks with kids have almost none of them (maybe due to lack of time or another reason that I can't see). Parents' life goals are often gathered around their children. If you want to test yourself, look around, ask any parent about their goals, and they will say something related to their children.

I can't stop thinking: if we don't have kids, is this our punishment?

I know I'm talking about different things, and you may wonder where I will go with all these thought lines. Where will all the questions land and be answered? Nowhere. That's not the goal.

Questions don't always need answers. Sometimes, they have to stay unanswered. Learning which question should be left out without an answer is another skill for me to learn.

“To learn which questions are unanswerable, and not to answer them: this skill is most needful in times of stress and darkness.” — Ursula K. Le Guin

Goals are a recurring theme I'm pondering and writing about. Complement this post with Growth with Systematic Bliss, A Life without Problems—The Happiness and What Hades Taught Me.

Essay Last Updated: Oct 17, 2022