“The tighter you squeeze, the less you have.”
— Thomas Merton
There will be many goals set tomorrow on New Year’s Day. Goals like learning a new language, writing a book, cleaning out the garage, and being more productive are at the top of more than a few lists.
But so many goals are like squeezing a tube of toothpaste. We try to squeeze a little more out of ourselves in the vain attempt to get ever-whiter teeth; to improve ourselves to the point of self-obsession.
But there comes a point when we’ve squeezed enough – when the amount of toothpaste received is tiny compared herculean effort expended to get it – when our teeth positively glow – when we can’t shine any more brightly – when we have more than we need.
Don’t get me wrong. Goal setting, like having clean teeth, is important. Personal goals are necessary and essential for success. They help us achieve more than we thought we could, and force us to break through otherwise impenetrable barriers.
Yet, when your toothpaste tube of goals is nearly empty it may be time to set a new type of goal – a goal that focuses on serving more and squeezing less. Look around. Try to see the people that don’t even have toothpaste. Can you help them to smile just a little more?
It may not be as glamorous as having a movie star’s pearly whites, but setting a goal to help someone else is a goal to smile about.
The past few days’ gifts of time … Made an end of year contribution to the Good Neighbor Center … More dishes and laundry than I ever imagined I’d do without complaining … Several trips to various places for the kids … And did the grocery shopping today since my wife does it so often throughout the year.