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Rhythms & Goals

“In general, goals are usually about a finish line–something you can reach for and then be done once you accomplish it. It’s about doing something. To us, formations aren’t about doing something but about being someone. One is usually about activity when the other is about identity. Goals are linear and resemble a straight line; formations look more like a circle, where you are constantly coming back to the same place to seek renewal and refreshment in a particular practice.”


Today’s quote comes from Jefferson Bethke, an author and podcaster I enjoy following. Bethke always has an interesting take on life topics. And his view on rhythms versus goals has inspired me to share this idea with you today. I thought it especially fitting since we’re covering habits this month. So, what is the difference between rhythms and goals?

Well, goals are items you set to accomplish sometime in the future. Some people set a goal of losing 50 pounds in a year. Others decide to try to save $1000 for a Disney vacation. These are tangible things that have an end. That’s really the whole point of a goal: to reach the end of something you want. And we love to set them. New Year’s Resolutions, anyone? Goals are great, but they don’t make for a changed life necessarily. That’s where rhythms come in.

Rhythms are practices you do regularly. Something like brushing your teeth is a rhythm. You don’t really have an end goal that you will reach so you can stop brushing. It’s just part of your everyday routine that will continue all your life. But even without a tangible end goal (besides ongoing prevention of cavities), you continue brushing your teeth because you want to be a hygienic person. Rhythms are about creating habits that will benefit you in the long-term, while goals are mainly focused on the short-term.

Rhythms support goals. For example, let’s return to our goal of saving money for a vacation. In order to reach this, we would need to start setting aside some money after every paycheck. Or maybe we choose to stop eating out once a week. We change our habits to accommodate our desire to reach a goal. And by changing our habits, we’ve created new rhythms. Because once we’ve reached our goal of saving $1000, we now have a great rhythm of saving that we can continue throughout our lives. Making future savings goals that much easier to obtain! Everything builds on each other and has lasting effects.

What do you think? What are your goals? Do you have any rhythms set in your life to support them? Let us know!

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