Enneagram - Goals

In the previous post I shared how discovering the Enneagram became a useful tool at revealing the shadow side of my life. (I'd call it the dark side, but that sounds too Vaderish). If you are like me, you probably won't like the laser focus of this personality tool. At the beginning, I didn't. Overtime though, I have enjoyed the journey I have taken to become a healthier version of myself. In a move that is unlike my Type Three, in that post I began with what I had learned about my motivations. I shared how I jockey daily between the fear of avoiding failure and the positive affirmation I get from accomplishments. This has become extremely helpful for me to recognize what I am doing in the moment. To continue, I want to discuss in this post another shadow I have to face: my pursuit of goals.

Because I'm driven by successful accomplishments, it makes sense that goal setting would come easy to me and more importantly a goal accomplisher. If there is any question about this, consider the label they give to a Type 3 on the Enneagram: Achiever. 

There is nothing wrong with setting and accomplishing goals, right? So, what does the shadow side of my personality reveal about Type Threes and our goal setting?

First, I have learned that most Type Threes on the Enneagram forget to celebrate their goals. Bingo! That is me. Actually, that is me with pinpoint accuracy. As long as I have made goals, I have never taken the time to celebrate my goals. If you are scratching your head and wondering why, it is very easy for me to explain. There are more goals to accomplish. There is always something new or better or bigger. There is always more to accomplish or a better way to get it done. What shocks me is that other people don't see it like this. :)

Taking the time to celebrate a goal does not make sense to me. It's like a drug. I don't stop to enjoy the high, because the high does not come from the accomplishment, but from the "next and bigger thing."  If you forget to pause and celebrate your goals and your accomplishments, you just might be a Three.


The second thing I've learned about goal setting is that not only am I not great at celebrating or even acknowledging an accomplished goal, but the next goal will be even bigger and better than the last goal.

If you have seen the movie, The Greatest Showman, than you have seen a Type Three on display before your very eyes in the character of P.T. Barnum. As we left the theater, Kendra asked: "Was it painful to see yourself in that movie?" Funny that she would recognize what was self evident to me. Yes. Yes it was painful and hard to watch a version of myself depicted so clearly in a movie. Barnum lived in the shadow of failure and believed he had to work hard and accomplish everything for the love and affection of his wife, the approval of his inlays and the affirmation of everyone who did not believe in him.  At the same time, I loved the movie and I was thrilled by Barnum.

***SPOILER ALERT***One of my favorite scenes in the film happened after the fire destroyed his circus. Do you remember what Barnum did? His plan was not just to rebuild the circus. It wasn't going to become just another Barnum Circus. No, this was going to be something bigger and better. In a classic Type Three move, it was now going to be called: THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH! Yeah, that's a Three thing to do. That's me.

How does that relate to the real world? Do you remember Y2K? It seems like a long time ago. As the world prepared for stock markets to crash and computers to reboot, I was at the start of my career and in the process of splitting my business partnership, I practiced dentistry in a rented space. I had 2 dental assistants and 1 front desk employee and I was up to my neck in business debt. My goals were simple: make it to the next month with money in the bank to pay my employees and stay in business. I was driven and if you remember the last post, failure was not an option. So what happened?

Every single year has been more productive than the year before. As I type this today, I practice dentistry in a building that I purchased, gutted and rebuilt to my standards. I have purchased top of the line dental equipment and technology. I have 2 employees at my front desk, 4 hygienists, and 3 dental assistants. We've grown every year and rarely celebrated. I'm currently working on goals that I set in January and as the Fall rolls around I will begin setting goals all over again. Recently I found myself saying, "What's next? What can I do to make this bigger and better?” Never content. Always more.  Yeah, it's a Three thing. 

Again, goals are good and I’m learning to create and celebrate healthy goals. 

Quietly making noise,