Aligning Goals with Capacities
While choosing one's goals, one should keep in view one's power, potential, and capacities and refrain from being unreasonably ambitious, for that would lead to failure and disappointment.
Imam 'Ali, the Master of the Pious, may peace be upon him, makes this interesting remark:
Whoever asks for something beyond his limits deserves disappointment. 21
Whoever demands something he does not deserve will face Disappointment. 22
Psychologists describe ambitious goals that are not consonant with a person's capabilities as one of the causes of failure:
The causes of failure lie either within the person himself or in the environment or both. The internal conditions of failure relate to mental and physical ability and health. The other internal conditions consist of personal goals and ambitions. Individuals differ in their capacity to face obstacles. Many people cannot succeed in overcoming their problems due to inadequate capacity. The causes of failure lie within the person himself when he expects more in order to fulfil his needs than he has the capacity to procure. For instance, Ahmad is a healthy young man and an athlete. He takes part in most of the sports at his college and is someone who can make many friends and enjoy their company. However, he is always sad and depressed. Ahmad thinks that people do not appreciate him as much they as should, that he did not get the medals that were received by others, that the newspapers do not print his pictures on the first pages, and things of this kind.
Ahmad's expectations are more than what his abilities would permit. His problem is a product of his own thinking, and it is something commonly observed in individuals, especially young people. If we observe carefully, we would see that many people are not satisfied with their work and their expectations are greater than their abilities would warrant.
Those who have too many expectations from the world are never at peace or happy. If their personal capacities were enough to fulfil their expectations, these expectations would definitely be realised. But the main problem is that expectations often exceed capacity. We have been taught that one can achieve whatever one wants, but we have not been told that this is true when one has the necessary capacity and power. Of course, effort is necessary at all times. Defeat must not stop one from making effort, and everybody must struggle to reach his goal. But goals must be chosen in accordance with one's capacities. 23
21. Ibid., p. 665.
22. Ibid., p. 662.
23. Margguerite Malm & Herbert Sorenson, Psychology f or Living, Persian trans. by Mahdi Jalali, Rawanshendsl baraye zistan (Tehran: Amir Kabir Publications 1348 H. Sh.), pp. 337-339
Adapted from: "Ethics and Spiritual Growth" by: "Sayyid Mujtaba Musawi Lari"
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