“Son, you be sure to set your goals so high that you can’t possibly accomplish them in one lifetime. That way you will always have something ahead of you. I made the mistake of setting my goals too low and now I’m having a hard time coming up with new ones.”
— Ed Turner to his son, Ted Turner, billionaire founder of CNN and TBS, winner of the America’s Cup, an ex of Jane Fonda, and long-time owner of the Atlanta Braves
In “Unlimited Power” and “Awaken the Giant Within,” Tony Robbins talks about two kinds of motivation: moving toward motivation and moving away motivation. Moving toward motivation is our positive goals, the things we wish to achieve and accomplish, the things we think will make us happy, joyful, satisfied, and content, such as healthy relationships, satisfying careers, a nice home, a fine car, mature children, a pleasant vacation. Moving away motivation is the things we wish to avoid: loneliness, bankruptcy, being fired, divorce, gaining weight, or poverty.
Each type of motivation has its challenges.
The trouble with moving away motivation is that often the further away we get, the less its power to motivate. In essence, satisfied needs don’t motivate. That, and people have short memories!
The trouble with moving toward motivation is once you get there, what then? This is the issue that Ted Turner’s father speaks of here. Ed Turner’s parents lost nearly everything in the Great Depression and Ed vowed to his mother that he would “’work really hard and…be a success. I’m going to be a millionaire and I’m going to own a plantation and a yacht.’” At the time these were “very lofty goals” but “having now checked off each of these goals, he was having a really tough time reevaluating things and coming up with a plan for the rest of his life.” (from “Call Me Ted” by Ted Turner, p.57)
Setting goals that you cannot reach in one lifetime is one solution, though I suspect that Ed Turner thought his goals met that criteria when he set them in the 1930s during the Depression.
Two other ways to handle the issue of potential letdown when you “reach all your goals” is to
a) have goals for every role/area of your life, such as career, family, community, physical/health, personal development, spiritual, etc. When you reach your goals in one area you shift your focus to another.
b) be self-aware enough to realize that you are nearing most or all of the major goals you have set in one role/area and begin to dream beyond your current goals, begin to see mountain tops beyond the mountain you currently are climbing. Once you summit, celebrate, enjoy, and savor. When the time comes to move on, the visualizing you have done will mean you are already pre-invested in your next challenge.