The Difference Between a State and a Goal

Most of the goals we set in life aim to achieve a "feeling" we long for. Whether that is peace, a stress-free life, a feeling of achievement, or the love and warmth of a happy family.

It makes sense then when we are put on the spot and asked what our goals in life are to say "When I am wealthy, I will be happy." or "I will be at peace when I do not have to stress about bills.".

In those two simple statements, we have two distinctly different concepts that we need to understand, and separate, in order to set clear goals for ourselves.

The first thing to remember about any goal - as we have stated before - is that it must be measurable, and must have a time by which you want to achieve it.

A state on the other hand does not need to be tied to the achievement of a goal as you will never be able to quantify it. Happiness, peace, and less stress clearly cannot be measured. They are fluid. So let's separate those from our statement, as "states". You can achieve a state of peace or happiness at any time. It is a decision you make, whereas, in contrast, a goal has steps and actions to take towards its completion.

Changing your state does not require any external inputs. You can do it now, right where you are sitting. Take a moment and imagine a time where you were very happy or completely at peace. Remember that time. Where were you? Feel the emotions you felt, the scents in the air, the sounds, and the people around you. Can you feel that same feeling starting to fill you now? It does not take much practice to get this right but needs consistency to ensure you maintain that feeling as a state.

You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control what happens in you.

It may sound a bit silly, but it works. we do this almost every day, mostly for negative thoughts and emotions, but we do it all the same. We daily recall past emotions, from negative experiences, and we do this from when we are little kids. Why does a toddler cry when he spills something on the couch? It is not the result of some magic 2-year old intuition telling him he is about to be disciplined. He simply remembers what it felt like the last time he did it. He can hear his mom's voice, see the look on her face, and he can remember how that made him feel. Instantly, before mom is any wiser, he is already afraid.

The same process is applied to achieve your desired positive state. Tony Robbins has successfully used this process with individuals that include Mother Theresa, US presidents, and professional athletes. It simply works.

The goal then would be wealth, but again we need to more clearly define that. How much is wealth? When will I be wealthy? When will I have my ideal job?

The goal must at all times be defined in such a way that you can take clear, defined, and measurable steps towards the outcome you desire. A goal is usually written down. It is articulated into a statement we can repeat to ourselves when we need to focus or assess our progress.

When we plan our outcomes we must focus on the goal. Our state can play a significant role in our progress towards the goal (you don't progress if you are always stressed and depressed).

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