Close your eyes and imagine yourself sitting in a football stadium (if you don’t like football, just pretend you do – you can go back to not liking it again after this short exercise). The atmosphere in the stadium is electric. Fans are whistling, singing and cheering. You cannot wait for your team to come onto the pitch.
Can you hear the raucous of the crowd around you?
Can you feel the excitement of the fans?
The two teams enter the stadium and the fans erupt with excitement. The match is about to begin.
The referee blows his whistle to initiate the start of the game and the centres tackle to win the ball.
The ball favours your team and, eager to take the first advantage, they run with it, passing it between themselves, keeping it far from the feet of the other team.
Quickly and deftly they approach the net, and the star player and top goal scorer of the season gets ready to take his shot.
The atmosphere is electric and tense at the same time as everyone holds their breath.
Will his aim be perfect?
Will he get it in the back of the net?
For a second he focuses on the goal, pulls his leg back, aims, and then swings forward to take the shot.
But as he kicks the ball, it’s as if everything goes into slow motion as four men suddenly appear at each post of the goal, grab the goal, lift it and dash to the side of the pitch. And, as a result, the ball completely misses the goal.
How does the star shooter react?
How does the referee and the linesmen react?
How do the other players react?
How does everyone, including you, in the stadium react?
No doubt there are boo’s and jeers of anger from the fans.
The referee may blow his whistle in disbelief.
The other players may run up to the goalpost men and shake their fists.
The four post men return the goal to where it originally stood and the game begins again.
This time, again, your team win possession of the ball and quickly and sleekly make their way to the goal.
This is it.
They’re going to score this time.
You can feel it.
The rest of the stadium can feel it.
The player in possession pauses to gain his balance, leans over the ball slightly to maintain control, pulls his leg back and then kicks forward making contact with the ball. And the ball sails through the air towards the goal.
But, again, just as it’s about to hit the back of the net, the four post men lift the goal and dash to the other side of the pitch. And, again, the ball misses the back of the net.
How many times do you think these four post men will get away with moving the goalposts before a fight kicks off? Not very many, right?
There’s no way you can score any goals in a football game if the goalposts keep moving.
It’s actually quite preposterous, isn't it?
It’s a ludicrous way to play a game, right?
It’s totally absurd and crazy, isn't it?
And yet that’s exactly what we do all the time in our lives.
When we set a goal we want to achieve, we keep moving the goalposts which means we never actually realise the original goal and we never get a chance to celebrate that achievement.
Would you go to a football match to continually get frustrated by four guys running around moving the goalposts so no-one can ever score? Of course not.
You want to enjoy the elation that comes when your team scores, right?
You want to celebrate and sing and clap, right?
Then why do you give more precedence to a football game than you do to your life?
Continually moving the goalposts around in a football game is totally unacceptable and would make everyone watching and playing, frustrated and angry. And yet moving our own personal goalposts is something that we do without a second thought. Crazy, right?
When we continually move the goalposts in life we deny ourselves the opportunity to celebrate who we are, what we have achieved, and how far we've come. And it means we also never offer ourselves or life the gratitude and appreciation we should.
A life emersed in gratitude is a life where the goalposts remain firm and in place. Because living with an attitude to gratitude means we express gratitude, not just for reaching each and every goal no matter how small or large, it also means expressing gratitude for every step along the journey towards each goal.
Rather than forging ahead towards the next big goal, the next big achievement, when you live with gratitude you take time to stop, to breathe, to honour, and to celebrate. And when you take that time, you soon discover even more to be grateful for in life. No longer do you take life for granted and race through it like a race, keen to reach the finishline, a finishline you'll never ever reach if you keep moving the goalposts.