~ Albert Einstein
Last week my therapist asked me a disconcerting question: what did I want out of therapy? A straightforward question, to be sure, and a logical one. The problem was, I didn’t know the answer. I have been in therapy almost continuously over the past 13 years, and sporadically prior to that. I wasn’t really imagining any end in sight to my treatment. And without having any goal in mind, there probably would be no end. So I had to ask myself, where do I want to end up? What are my goals, not just with therapy, but in life?
I used to want a lot of things. A six-figure income, to be the author of a best-selling book, to have a master’s degree (it didn’t matter in what field, I just wanted to check off the accomplishment), to become spiritually “self-actualized,” whatever that meant. Not that any of those things were hugely extravagant desires, nor that they are unattainable. But I think they were goals for the sake of having goals.
My priorities have changed, especially over the past year, and my goals in life have become simpler. In sitting down this week to consider my goals, this is what I came up with:
My goal is to live a simple life. Financially, I want to be relatively debt- free and I want to sock away a little savings for emergencies. I want the freedom to pursue my interests and not have to work at something that is going to break me down again. I want to have the energy and motivation and self-esteem to take care of myself and my surroundings. I want a couple of friends to be able to get together with once in a while, to be able to share my life with. I want to stay close with my immediate family. I want to gain mental and emotional stability.
Interestingly, these goals – and the order in which I came up with them – coincide more or less with Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs.”
At this point in my life, I don’t take the fulfillment of any of these needs for granted. But I also don’t need to stress over how I am going to make it. For today, I do have a roof over my head and sufficient food. I do have people to care about and who care about me. I am finding my way toward financial/mental/emotional health. And I am keeping it simple.
Truth be told, I have a very good start on all of my goals. And by sitting down and contemplating what those goals actually are, I think I can make better use of my therapy to help attain them. With the end in sight, I can better navigate the path that will get me there.
I like the idea of keeping things simple, and if I ascend Maslow’s pyramid and self-actualize in the process, so be it.