Are your goals really Toads?
The author and coach, Michael Neill poses a question in his book Super coach, as he shares his experience of working with millionaire and billionaire clients that continue to chase, even with all the money in the world.
“Do you want to know how it feels to be a multi-millionaire? Take a moment to feel however you feel in your body and your mind right now, in this precise moment……. That’s what it feels like to be a multi-millionaire”
Now, a story.
When I was maybe 8–10 years old, I would capture frogs. Not to eat them. Nor to keep them. Simply to catch and release. Riding down dirt roads in the back of a Suzuki Samurai on a Friday night, not a care in the world in those moments.
All that was on my mind, how can I catch the frogs before they hop away off the road. With the mighty Missouri river nearby, there was never a shortage of frogs, maybe toads, to attempt to catch and release, on those warm mid-summer nights.
It was a game that I fondly remember playing, and enjoying. In my 8–10 year old mind, it was just me and the frog, or toad, in truth, I’m not sure. It was a game of speed, agility, and strategy. Always doing my best to sneak up on the, what I considered in my naivety, unsuspecting toad… Yeah, pretty sure they were toads.
Often to find that they hopped away quicker than I could run or come close enough to make a dive for them. A worthy opponent, in my mind. In hindsight, it was a game of survival for them, and a game of play for me.
There were ample times where the toads, not frogs, even more certain about this now, were not able to escape my ever brilliant strategy of sneak and grab (Insert insidious laughter here).
They were no match for my smarts, wit, and speed, when I had a bit of a head start on getting close to them. I liken this story to my life as a whole. As a game that choose to or choose not to play day in and out.
Where we have the opportunity to try different maneuvers, or tactics in an effort to create, capture, or possess what we personally deem meaningful.
We also hold the opportunity to enjoy the process of the game, amongst challenge and failure. Enabling us to enjoy the pursuit of such trappings.
In my case as a child, my favorite part of this game was everything leading up to the point at which I captured the toad. No frogs. Just toads.
What was also interesting, in hindsight was seeing that the game was never about the possession, it was about the process of getting there. As a child, I knew instinctively how to enjoy the process of going after what I want, without a lot of emotional weight on my shoulders..
You didn’t hear me as a kid saying, “well, I didn’t catch that one because the weather was wrong”. Or, “it just wasn’t in the cards for me”. Or, “I’m not good enough to capture a fro…toad”. Or, “It was because of the way my mother looked at me that missed that one.”
I’ve certainly made claims like that in adulthood on my way to capturing conventional means of success. The message that comes to the forefront for me here is — to see that if I’m only after the outcome, the trappings, the toad, and am unhappy on my way there, there’s a high likelihood that upon achieving my goal, not much will change.
There might be a high likeliness that I will soon after find myself setting another goal to chase, because this will be the one that changes everything. This time will be better. Different. The right answer.
I experienced that in my corporate career, and in my travels as well. Early on setting my sights on creating a position as a Director, I went full speed ahead towards it. Most of the time enjoying the process because I loved the work I was doing, while at the same time, somewhere in my mind believing that the position itself was a destination.
I unknowingly held a belief that I will be happier when I get there. Upon arriving into my position, I recognized that nothing changed, aside title and salary. In and of themselves, that is great. However, the feeling of having arrived to something I chased for so long, didn’t match the expectations I had created in my mind of what would occur once there.
And what happened immediately after realizing that the feeling I was searching for wasn’t there? I began setting another goal of what was next, on the seemingly never ending quest of finding that feeling of being whole and complete. That feeling that says, regardless of where I am or what I have, I am able to relax into being myself in each moment.
I liken my arrival to goals once perceived as what will be the end all be all that creates happiness ,to one of my experiences toad capturing? Toad… I don’t know what to call the game.
There was a huge toad in the road. I set my sights on it and was using all of my best moves to tip toe around the sides of him so I was out of his line of sight. Inching closer, bit by bit, and then, a lunge for the goal.
Only to find that the toad, the goal, that I had been stalking and chasing had been ran over by a car. This is synonymous for me, personally, chasing after something that I believe will bring me a feeling that seems to be missing.
Allow me to make clear, I’m not advocating that we stop going after what we want. Nor am I advocating that money or titles, are inherently bad. Money is a tool we use to live and function in the society to which we are a part. And a title is simply a role that we play. It’s not who we are.
What I am advocating for is understanding why we want that goal. What the full breadth of the purpose is, across the span of an entire lifetime.
Why do we want that relationship, that title, that vacation and so forth?
Again, there’s nothing wrong with wanting them. I encourage you (I constantly heed my own words here) take time to consider if what is being chased is sheerly for the perception that once you catch your toad, that it may create a feeling about yourself, your life, or the world that doesn’t seem possible without it.
If you are in the process of creating something simply because you want it, for the love of it, fantastic. That’s a wonderful place to be.
Learning to enjoy the process of life, has been one of the most challenging lessons to learn and live for myself. I continue to practice it every day.