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In order to give their lives some kind of structure, a lot of people choose to set themselves goals. They line up plans for their future family, their social life, their career, whatever else they want to go a specific way over the course of their lifetime.

This gives a lot of people some kind of focus, something to work towards, something that gives their time a sense of purpose. By directing their energy towards fulfilling these goals, they make that time spent feel a lot more meaningful.

But most of goals people set come with an end product that they obtain or earn or create. There is a point, marked by a particular thing, at which they believe they will be able to stop and simply be satisfied.

But if you achieve that early on, it leaves you with the rest of your life with nothing do. And, if something is that easy to achieve, it probably isn’t all that worthwhile a goal no matter how satisfied it might make you.

The truth is that the most valuable things you can do are not easy. The most important difference you make probably won’t get done in the space of a lifetime if attempted by one person. Some probably won’t get done in the space of a lifetime if attempted by lots of people.

The most important things that human being can do take generations to come into effect. The biggest progressions humanity has made – things like the Suffragette movement, the abolition of slavery, the decline of discrimination and bigotry against minorities all over the world – have been the result of many, many people’s combined effort over the course of decades.

People don’t choose that kind of goal. People pick their ambitions for the ones they think they can achieve. They want the satisfaction of completion. Most of them want it soon.

But if you expect what you do to have a real and positive impact, you’d be much better off accepting that you probably won’t notice the difference you make. That the best benefits from your actions may come long after you are dead. The people who will really be able to appreciate them are your children, or maybe even their children, and all the generations that follow.

If you learn to be satisfied with the nobility and the integrity of your aims, to be proud of the actions you take to fulfil them, rather than holding out for personal end result, and know that your impact will be known in the long run, you’ll be a lot happier and you’ll do a lot more of value to humanity as a whole.

If you celebrate the baby steps that it is in your power to take, appreciate the incremental differences you can make to a truly significant whole, your success with matter so much more. To you and to everyone who benefits from it as the years pass and your little ripple becomes a huge tidal wave of change.

Kirstie Summers,

Daily Zen.

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