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I drifted towards a goal that I realized much later was not my own

I recently wrote a post on LinkedIn about how, a few years ago, I changed a long-term goal I had defined with my working life: From "to retire a little earlier" - to "to work as long as possible".

The reason for the change is that I discovered an interest and a task that I instinctively felt I just had to do, but let's stay with this thing about goals.

During an internship at the Swedish advertising agency Rönnberg & Co (the most famous and foremost back then), a dream arose that became my guide from the school bench into working life and beyond: I would "have an advertising agency".

That handrail made it easy for me to see my various jobs as perfect milestones in the form of experiences I would need to reach my dream.

I also understood in conversations with friends that it was a huge advantage to know what I wanted to do, because it was quite unusual to have clear and long-term goals connected to work.

Even today, I feel that it is quite common that people don't really know what they want to work with.

Which makes it easy to get stuck in the idea that our job is just a job, or in the worst case - that you don't enjoy your job.

A bit sad actually, as it feels so unnecessary with all the potential that doesn't come through and because we spend so many hours of our lives on our jobs.

But at the same time hopeful: -Imagine when everyone finds "their thing" - which is of course quite possible, even if a little help may be needed to figure it out.

I myself have never experienced it as having "made a career", but just been lucky enough to do what was challenging, developing and fun. On the way to the dream.

For me, the various jobs were more natural steps on the road than climbing.

Which means that I once again underline the value of the previously mentioned dream and handrail.

Without it, my perspective on work would not have been as long-term oriented.

The job for the moment, instead of an experience on the road, had been... the goal.

The difference in how we look at work becomes fundamental depending on this.

1. If I see the job as experience along the way - my attitude towards it is to do the job so well that the next step continues in the direction I want.

2. If the job I have is my goal, there is a risk that I will eventually lose the drive and joy because my goal has been achieved. Or that my updated goal will be "to keep the job", which is an approach that is highly unlikely to develop either me or my employer's view of me.

-What goals we set for ourselves in working life affect us so much that learning this should be part of the curriculum for high school.

We need long-term goals so that the short-term ones do not become final goals.

And if we have reached all the goals we have set, we either need to set new ones or ensure that the goals also include meaning.

More on that soon. First to what I mention in the title:

One thing I myself realized very late was that a new goal I had suddenly, in the middle of my career, formulated with my working life was not really my goal.

So now I'm not talking about the dream of the advertising agency, but a long-term goal with working life: "To retire a few years earlier".

This was what the absolute majority (if not all) in similar positions expressed.

A norm.

What I really wanted was to have the freedom to be able to spend my time on exactly what I felt like.

However, I had not developed the thoughts about what that time should be spent on.

The goal was to get time, then the rest would work itself out.

Which made my dear wife worried that it would involve: playing golf, signing a book and drinking wine. Period.

Well, why not… someone might think. So I thought.

Because it would quickly become rather monotonous?

Or because the risk is that the order is reversed to: drink wine, sign a book and play golf if the days are not more meaningful than that.

By processing the actual goal (ie: "to have the freedom to be able to spend my time on exactly what I want"), it became clear that the important thing was not to retire early, but to be able to do more of what I get energy from .

It would have been a better formulated long-term objective, although it also needs to be clarified to be approved.


Simon Sinek's familiar "why", I think is a good model, even if it can be easier said than done when it comes to our personal why.

My house god Lars-Eric Uneståhl highlights the importance of finding something that has an element in it of making the world a little better - something meaningful - which became the basis for my updated long-term goals.

That is, from "retire a little earlier" to "work as long as possible".

Having clear goals is as important as having an engine/sail and rudder for a boat.

Without them, there will be neither speed nor steering.

Having goals that make sense to us from our own perspectives – not based on what others think and think – enables us to enjoy the journey.


Image of Daniel Collin

here I write.

I have always enjoyed writing and have done so for over 20 years in the advertising industry with the perspective that all communication takes place on the recipient's terms. On this blog, I write about humans, primarily based on the brain and our mental well-being. Hope it can inspire and awaken thoughts that can make you feel better!



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