You will be dead before you can count to 1 billion.
The idea of setting and a goal isn’t necessarily a bad thing, in order to get through our ‘normal’ daily lives, planning is sometimes necessary. But it’s when we get caught up in the plans or goal that life may begin to weigh down on our shoulders, a goal that isn’t coming as quickly as you hoped and plans not going exactly to their blue print. This is when dukkha (suffering) occurs and its these expectations that we set upon ourselves that cause the unwholesome thoughts and emotions to break through and build up. We then identify ourselves with these emotions and states of mind, letting them consume us and before we know it everyday we will complain and point out everything that is ‘wrong’ with life. But we often ignore what lays beyond those words, what causes them to say that. Words can’t reflect reality very well but we have become very good at showing our emotions through them.
We should shine the light of awareness* onto ourselves throughout every moment and these emotions will slowly cease to arise in ourselves. This is not insinuating that you will be completely without dukkha in your life but it is a sure way of cutting it down. The practise of mindfulness is how we can keep our goals and not cause dukkha. Let go of the expectations, let everything be and take everything as it comes. This can be hard for people to accept, because they mistake the acceptance for how things are with complacency, so they will think nothing will change to their liking. But really what most people are trying to change are concepts and concepts are birthed by views and opinions. In the state of thinking conceptually your mind cannot comprehend what is, so it has to put everything into neat tidy boxes so we can have better control over our life situations. These opinions and thoughts are iced and pride driven, then causing more disturbance when challenged in turn causing more dukkha. The idea is to turn the finger around to yourself, identify what your flaws are and accept that any suffering that comes by you mentally was your choice. If you change yourself, others will see and follow.
So do not set out to count to 1 billion, you will come to your time of death unsatisfied that you have not reached your goal. The goal that can never truly be reached, the goal that your Ego sets out for, to feel powerful, accomplished, weathly and successful. Fill that void of uncertainty of what you need, with what Is. Be and you will find the answers that you have been searching for.
*Tich Nhat Hanh – “The sun, my heart” reference to awareness as a light.