Written by Andrew Koay
Layout by Vania Tan
Take a casual scroll through your social media on any given day and you’ll see lots of the usual: selfies, filtered images of food, and friends posing together. But every now and then you’re likely to run into something that really catches your attention.
It could be a snap from that “adventure-of-a-lifetime” holiday that your best friend took, or an instastory of a high school acquaintance partying it up on a superyacht, or maybe even a photo from that social influencer’s wedding that’s perfectly lit and framed. You’re already thinking it, and the hashtag attached to the post confirms it—these are #lifegoals.
As the name suggests, life goals constitute anything we want to achieve in this life. Common life goals include buying your own home, having a loving relationship, and traveling around the world.
And life goals give us something to strive towards. We know that there’s something out there to achieve and this gives us the motivation to keep working hard.
Maybe the nine-to-five grind is weighing you down. Don’t worry, here’s a reminder of that great trip to Scandinavia that you’re saving up for. Or how about the stress that comes from late nights studying for exams? Well here’s a picture of that fast and slick German car you’ll be able to afford when your grades land you a high paying job.
This mindset isn’t new or unique to this generation. To be sure, the quest for a better life has been a perennial human trait. It explains why droves of people in the 19th century took the arduous journey across the Atlantic Ocean, migrating to the United States. Hearing about the opportunities that awaited them, many Europeans packed up their lives and moved to America in hope that they could improve the conditions of their existence. It’s a phenomenon that has continued to this present time, with refugee and migrant movements happening all over the world.
Social Media Has Influenced Our Goals
But with the rise of social media today has come increased visibility of other lifestyles. From friends we see every day to celebrities and sportsmen whom we may never meet in our lifetime, social media shows us what anyone is eating, buying, or doing at any given time. And that’s possibly had an influence on what we desire.
Social media reveals the #lifegoals hashtag is typically associated with fitness, luxurious houses, sports cars, picture-perfect couples, and destination holidays. It seems that as we become more exposed to the frills that others enjoy, we too start to desire these things.
However, the danger of this is that life goals can then become an expression of our discontentment. We realize that our life is not quite where we want it to be at and we desire for it to look different—bigger, better, wilder even. When we go on social media at the end of a long day, and see our friends having the time of their lives, we become envious of their achievements and their lifestyle. In comparison, the life we’re living right now just doesn’t seem as good.
Happy with how your body looked? Well, you’re likely to be more dissatisfied after seeing a picture of your slim or athletic neighbor posing post-workout. How about the car you own, that’s served you faithfully for the last few years? A photo of your colleague’s brand-new sports car would probably get you thinking about splashing out on an upgrade. And don’t forget your summer holidays. Sure, you had a good break with family, but how does it compare to the trip your friends took around Europe?
We end up telling ourselves that we won’t be satisfied till we attain the life goals that we see on social media, that our lives will be much better when we’re able to post our very own #lifegoal-worthy achievements and experiences.
The problem with this is that the likely outcome of our efforts will be more discontentment and dissatisfaction.
Life Goals Never Satisfy
Jim Carrey, an accomplished and successful comedian and actor once tweeted, “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of, so they can see that it’s not the answer”. Robbie Williams, a British popstar and one of the best-selling artists of all time, had experienced everything that success and money could offer, only to write in his autobiography that he still felt “empty”.
Even King Solomon of the Bible, who had amassed great amounts of wealth, wisdom, and women, lamented the lingering feeling of discontent.
“I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired male and female singers, and a harem as well—the delights of a man’s heart. I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me.
I denied myself nothing my eyes desired. I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 2:4-11)
It seems that no matter who we are, what we achieve, and which era we live in, we all end up echoing the words of Rolling Stones front man Mick Jagger: “I can’t get no satisfaction.”
Where to Find True Fulfillment
Where does that leave us? If the longing for more is innate to the human condition, can we ever find our fulfillment? It seems that success, wealth, fame, and even love can’t satisfy our thirst. Are we therefore doomed to go through the motions, achieving life goal after life goal without ever feeling true contentment?
Well, here’s the good news: God has not left us to suffer in our ill-fated efforts to find satisfaction. Instead, He has intervened and found a solution for us. He has given us His son, Jesus Christ, in whom we can finally find true contentment.
“Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)
Jesus was talking to a woman who had come to a well to draw water, using a metaphor that still rings true today. The water, like everything else in this life, will only offer fleeting satiation. Before long, like the woman at the well, we’d have to draw more water – or find something else to tickle our desire for fulfilment.
But while everything we see on social media will only offer a momentary rush, in Jesus we can attain everlasting fulfillment. This is possible because of who Jesus is: God Himself, who created us and loves us. Think about the joy and happiness we find in our relationships with our family or friends. As good as they might be, they’re inevitably fraught with disappointment. But how about a relationship with the God of the universe? Because He created us, and knows us intimately, He also knows best how to give us the satisfaction we crave. It’s by seeking Him out that we will come into ultimate contentment; now that sounds like a real #lifegoal.
So next time you’re scrolling through your social media platforms and you see a #lifegoal, take a moment to pause and think about Jesus Christ, who offers us a chance at real fulfillment. Will we accept His offer and learn more about Him?
If this writing has touched you in any way or given you some food for thought, we hope you will pick up a Bible and take a look at what it says about God and the good news He is giving you. We also encourage you to contact a Christian friend or a nearby church to speak to someone who can tell you more.
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