In 13th century Middle English the word ‘gol’ meant ‘boundary’ or ‘limit’, which is probably how you’d have referred to the perimeter of your settlement, and perhaps also what you’d have called the furthest distance you could travel in one day.
Over time an ‘a’ got added, giving us the more familiar ‘goal’, which we’d now either use to mean the area that’s targeted by players of team sports as they attempt to score points, or of course the result we hope to achieve through some kind of action.
In the English game of cricket, the batsman aims to knock the ball out of the park (mixing my sporting metaphors) by having it cross the ‘boundary’, either direct from his bat through the air, gaining six runs, or having come into contact with the field along the way, in which case four runs are awarded.
When we talk about goals in everyday life, however, we generally see them as temporary limits.
Once they’ve been reached, there’s usually always more to be done another day.
The bigger the goal, the harder it can be to reach, and there are times in life when a low mood restricts your ability to achieve most things, let alone the kind of auspicious targets which you may have set for yourself during happier times.
Goals can be helpful though; particularly so when they’re something to look forward to.
So carry on setting them even when you’re at a low ebb, but make them smaller.
But do make them specific and achievable.
It could mean telling yourself that you’ll have a relaxing bath tonight at 9pm, say.
Or you might schedule a 15 minute walk at lunchtime to buy a birthday card for a good friend.
Don’t be over-ambitious, however.
We all have our gols.