Two or so years ago the word “goals” was everywhere. It’s been around since then, but it’s less of the sensation that it was. Nearly everything was “goals”. The nice car our friend from high school just bought was goals. The apartment in a leafy suburb that annoying girl who went to university in Wales recently moved into was goals.

The blissful romance that annoyingly good-looking couple seemed to be enjoying was goals. The amazing friendships with wild nights out and ever-smiling faces (hardly ever hangovers and days down in the dumps) were goals. All the travelling to faraway exotic places was goals.

It was a show of the experiences people were having and the lifestyles they were leading, a celebration of them if you will. It was lovely to see. It was lovely to see people win, celebrate their successes, celebrate each other and each other’s successes, and live their best lives.

Something about the whole thing seemed off though. In the beginning, describing something as #goals sounded aspirational. It seemed to be in line with what goals really are, the object of a person’s ambition or effort.

As the term grew in popularity it took on a different persona, one of envy and dissatisfaction. It seemed like people’s achievements and successes were not being celebrated for what they were but as the object of our envy.

While there might not be anything inherently wrong with that (the things that people have and have achieved can be a useful reference for our own pursuits) to use them as a barometer for our own lives might be dangerous. It can take away the joy and sincerity of individual achievements and our ability to celebrate them as such. It also paints the wrong picture of success, which doesn’t look the same to all people all the time.

This feeds into the comparison culture that’s become such a problem for us today. We see couple goals and compare our romantic relationships to them. Ditto to friendships, lifestyles, careers, and just about anything else we can do well (or appear to do well) and post on social media. We wish the same for ourselves and try to turn our lives (or at least the small parts we feel are lacking) into what other people would appreciate as goals, which is another problem.

In essence, other people’s achievements, successes, and experiences become our life goals. Especially with regard to the people we envy and idolise, we imitate and emulate them until eventually, we want to be everybody but ourselves, which I find to be such a sad thing. Again, other people’s achievements, successes, and experiences are useful references for the things we should do with our own lives, but maybe they shouldn’t be the scale by which we measure them.

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The world and society we live in are achievement-based. A lot of value is placed on doing things and getting them done and those who get them done earlier or quicker than others become the yardsticks for the rest of us. Sometimes it isn’t even getting those things done earlier and quicker, but getting them done at the “right” time.

Going to university, graduating from university, getting a job, getting married, having children, buying a car and buying a house; all fantastic things for anyone to do and worth pursuing. But do they need to be done in a specific order? In a specific way? At a specific time? Do they need to be done at all?

In Justin Bieber’s song “Intentions”, Quavo rapped that he’s “got ’em sayin’ ‘goals,’ they don’t wanna be independent”. We should make goals our own and make our own goals. Make goals that are personal, that have meaning to you. Our goals do not need validation or recognition from other people, nor do they need to be the same or look the same as theirs.

Rafiki’s career goals might look like climbing the ladder at the company he works for and ending up CEO. Yours might look like starting a charity that takes care of and feeds the homeless. Both look good to either person. Wandia’s couple goals might look like kisses hello, good morning, good night, and kisses in between. Yours might look like nights out on the town and weekends out of town. Someone else’s might look like secret notes and tender words behind closed doors. They all look and feel good to the people involved.

That being said, we like being the object of people’s admiration. We like to be idolised and admired and our lives and experiences described as #goals. It stokes the ego and makes us feel good about ourselves. But it’s probably better for that to be the result of our efforts at pursuing our own goals than trying to turn Instagram into real life.

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Go ahead and create goals. They don’t have to be common, nor do they have to be what everyone else has. The world is a colourful, wonderful place because of our individual idiosyncrasies. Let that uniqueness bleed into the things you do and pursue and add colour to them as well.

Pursue your goals relentlessly. There is a school of thought that suggests that in the pursuit of many things, we often find that when we achieve or get whatever it was we were pursuing, it isn’t as great as we thought it would be. There’s some truth to this, but that might not be a hard-and-fast rule.

The pursuit and achievement of our goals bring about progress, for ourselves and for others, and often a myriad of other positive things. If we pursue a goal to have better friendships, for example, our lives benefit from that. We become happier, more wholesome people. If we pursue a goal to be more dedicated to our jobs, our employers or businesses are better off for it, and so are our careers.

So go out there and create goals for goal-worthy moments, just don’t peg them to envy-inducing photos on Instagram. Peg them to your heart. Figure out the life you want, the things you want to do and achieve and experience and live out on a daily basis and make those #goals.