Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, March 6, 2015

View from the Cheap Seats

Identifying your life goal

Last week, when I was stuck at home due to the weather, I spent a lot of time watching random television shows to pass the time. One show I was watching had a segment relating to the Diamond Mine, which is located in the southern part of Arkansas. It is reputed to be the only place diamonds can be found in the continental United States. My children have all been there, but I have no recollection of them ever finding anything of value. I, myself, have never been there, and have little desire to ever go.

Anyway, the segment was not unlike those I have seen in the past. A lot of digging in dirt, and whatever is found is very small. Toward the end of the segment, it introduced an elderly gentleman that had been a regular at the mine for several years. He had a collection of diamonds that he had saved. He explained that he wasn’t looking for diamonds to sell. What he was looking for was a diamond that was big enough to name. The story never indicated how big the diamond had to be before you got to name it, or who was in charge of those decisions. It was clear from the interview with the modern day prospector that it was a big deal to him. He went so far as saying that finding a diamond that he could name was his life’s goal. He even indicated that he had a name picked out for the yet found piece of compressed carbon.

When I first heard him say finding the diamond was his life’s goal, I might have laughed out loud. It was immediately hard for me to recognize how someone could live their life with that singular goal. While I’m sure his statement was a little exaggerated, I believed that it was very important to him. After the segment went off, I began to ponder what I’d say my ultimate life’s goal was if I was asked the question. The answer didn’t come as easily as I would’ve liked.

There was a time that all I wanted to achieve was to become a lawyer. Now, after 21 years of practicing law, I’ve seen a number of these ultimate life goals come and go. I have a great family and three great kids. My law practice has flourished and is, in many ways, bigger and more successful than I ever imagined it would be. I’ve set and met many goals in my life. There have been a number of failures in my life, too, but when I failed to meet a particular goal, I’ve always tried to replace it with a new and improved goal. The common shortfall of many of my goals is the fact that they’re often not very specific. Unclear goals are a lot harder to achieve than specific goals.

As it stands, I can’t articulate my specific, end all goal of my life. While I laughed at the prospector’s singular goal of finding that one big diamond, at least he knows what he wants out of life. I need to remedy this situation. I’m too old to wander aimlessly through the days of my existence without a clear plan of where I want to go and what I want to achieve. We all need to set goals with the understanding that the goals we set can be changed at any time. We just need to be cognizant of where we are going, even if it is to the diamond mine every day.

Traveling through life without goals is like taking a journey without a map. You might eventually make it, but chances are it will take you longer than necessary and you’ll probably take a lot of wrong turns. That’s not good for anyone, especially those of us way up in the CHEAP SEATS!

Bill James is a criminal defense attorney and co founder of the James Law Firm with offices in Little rock, Conway, and Fayetteville, Ark. He’s never found a diamond, but once he found a $20 bill in his pants pocket he’d forgotten about. He may be reached at Bill@JamesFirm.com.