We can naturally pursue several greater objectives. No one forbids us for example from striving for both great financial wealth as well as from living the basic rights of existence. Whether these two goals are compatible with one another depends on the state of our personal development. The closer we get to the goal of permanent harmony the greater the chance that these two goals are not compatible for us. As we have already emphasized many times, we can select our goals for ourselves, but we also have to live with the consequences. The more incompatible are the goals we pursue the more strictly we have to divide our time and energy. Correspondingly the possible progress becomes fundamentally less with the increasing number of incompatible goals. In extreme cases we divide our energies to such an extent that no progress at all is possible – we stay in one place.
Let’s consider in the example of Figure 3, with the mountain peaks A, B and C as goals, someone who wants to reach goal A as well as C. Let’s assume that this person pursues goal A for one hour and then pursues goal C for one hour, then A again and so on.
As long as this person has not yet reached the village in the valley he makes good progress since both goals are compatible with one another. From hour to hour he gets closer to the village. However as soon as he reaches the village he will climb for one hour towards C and then for one hour towards A. This however is exactly the opposite path to which he has previously travelled. This person therefore returns to the village. He then decides again on the peak C and turns around …etc.
No matter how persistent this person is, he constantly shuttles backwards and forwards close to the village without ever getting closer to either of the two goals. He might just as well sit down and rest – instead of which he chases around and gets tired at the same time! He wastes his energy and achieves nothing. He makes no further progress.
When making a decision we select one objective each time as a guideline for this decision. Our behaviour in a given situation is primarily determined by our current objective. In the example with the mountain peaks the person decides initially for example on goal C. In the next decision however we can already select again another goal as a guiding principle - in the above example the goal A. The currently-valid goal can therefore very quickly change.
If we pursue several objectives which do not complement one another – in other words are not compatible, then there is a permanent sort of competition between the individual objectives as to which objective can now have the upper hand and hence become the guiding principle for the current decisions.
Let’s assume you would like to be your boss’s deputy, although amongst your work colleagues there are more suitable people. At the same time you want to have a fair and friendly relationship with your work colleagues. As soon as your boss appears you will behave differently because you want to show him that you would be the best deputy for him. When the boss is not around the objective «good relationship with work colleagues» has the upper hand. As soon as the boss comes in again the current objective changes to «become the boss‘s deputy». Because of this the work colleagues will sooner or later feel offended, which will spoil the friendly relationship. Since – as this example assumed – there are better candidates for the position of deputy, these two goals are not compatible. Advance towards one goal therefore leads to backward steps with respect to the other goal.
This is true both for the short term as well as for the long term greater goals. According to whether the goal is to live the basic rights of existence or whether the goal of amassing material wealth has the upper hand, a person will possibly behave differently or make completely different decisions in a given situation. The pursuing of different objectives can go so far that as a result of this quite different personality traits can occur within one and the same person. Typical for the modern western world for example is that there is a great discrepancy between the moral behaviour of people in their business life and their private life.