“If you pay attention, when you are seeking something, you will move towards your goal. More importantly, however, you will acquire the information that allows your goal itself to transform. A totalitarian never asks, “What if my current ambition is in error?” He treats it, instead, as the Absolute. It becomes his God, for all intents and purposes. It constitutes his highest value. It regulates his emotions and motivational states, and determines his thoughts. All people serve their ambition. In that matter, there are no atheists. There are only people who know, and don’t know, what God they serve.
If you bend everything totally, blindly and willfully towards the attainment of a goal, and only that goal, you will never be able to discover if another goal would serve you, and the world, better.”
Jordan Peterson, 12 Rules For Life, pg. 224
I was recently adding 12 Rules For Life notes into The Important Things when I reread this section. I make goals for the year, and have a rough idea about longer term goals, and this fits nicely into—and excites—my perspective moving forward.
I see goal transformation as necessary. It is mentioned, not explicitly, in a previous post of mine Need Help Finding Out What You Want? I told a quick story about hearing someone discussing their daughters current life position, “She doesn’t know what she wants to do.” I remember thinking, immediately after she said this, she needs to do SOMETHING. Pick something, and then let it transform. In Jordan Peterson’s Maps of Meaning Lectures, he explains, when choosing something to aim at in life, “[…] you start by aiming at the star that you can see and not the dimmer one that you can yet hardly perceive.” ““And that’s subject to update because what the hell do you know.” The subject to update is the goal transformation part. Because if life is changing, at different magnitudes, other things in life must change as well.
He has a really good way of deciding—and evaluating—goal transformations as it relates to getting your bosses job. When seeking whether you want your bosses job, ask if that job would make your life better. Do you want the job for status? Or money? Would that money make your life better? Choose the thing that would make your life better.
It’s difficult to answer the question of where I see myself in ten years, five years, or even two years. Sometimes I can only see six months out. That’s my aim right now. When I get closer to that, I am better able to evaluate the factors that will affect my life. I look into the future vaguely, past a year or two, mostly because I am in my mid twenties, and a small change now can have a huge change later. If I stay open now, focusing on short-term, then hopefully I will be able to see an opportunity to make my life better and not have it be clouded by prior commitment to reach some sort of other status.
There is an obvious flaw here. There’s no commitment. How can you get anywhere without committing to something? You commit to growth. Regardless of the specifics, Jordan Peterson encourages to keep improving. What he is saying here is that you can’t be a tyrant to your own life direction. Keep moving towards something and choose the thing that would serve you and the world better. Often, that thing requires a transformation.