These prompts have touched on a concept that has been heavy on my mind from both a personal and professional development standpoint: the mountain
The concept is a common professional platitude, also known as the airplane concept or the proverbial north star. The idea is simple: if you're attempting to climb a mountain and can see the peak, every step and inch of the way becomes pegged to that point as you put your head down and pace yourself towards the top. On the flip side, if you do not know where your peak is (i.e. your ultimate goal) then you begin to count those steps as each becomes more difficult and less rewarding. With no north star, you may make progress while still being lost.
The reason why I've been exploring this question for myself is this dichotomy between goal-driven action and action for action's sake. Look at the most prolific artists, leaders, and creators of the past and you'll see a common and unrelenting sense of direction. Bruce Lee wrote “My Definite Chief Aim,” a beautifully penned personal note which eloquently states in surgical specificity what he intends to achieve in his life. He was in his early 20's when he wrote this and went on to direct and produce over 5 films and much more before his untimely death only a few years later. I believe his decisive and absolute understanding of what his goals were at the time we're imperative to his ability to channel his energy and focus.
This has not been an easy question to answer for myself. What if what we think is our ultimate goal turns out to be not? What if it's the opposite? Is this a rational fear? Or is the idea of the path itself valuable enough just for showing us how wrong we are about ourselves? What if the peak we define simply hides a higher one behind it? What if a rabid pack of wolves awaits you on your direct path, do you veer laterally?
At the end of it all, I believe that whatever we set out to do, we must be prepared to reconcile the dirty work, the mundane, the uninspiring moments against something more than just our own sense of resilience. I think its valuable to think through where our conviction lies in reference to our own potential - and what, beyond our own finite abilities and life, can we do that will be lasting and important past our own selfish desires. Even if that path ends with no tangible conclusion, it may answer some deep questions about your own life, what motivates you, what you're left wanting.