Note posted on September 3, 2020
A hallmark of Stoicism is realizing that we can only control our inner worlds, and accepting we can't control most of the world around us. Part of that is focusing less on events and more on how we react to them. But I've realized it also affects how we chase our goals.
If you work towards a specific, tangible goal, something could happen that takes it away. For example, you could aim to own a house but are never able to afford one, find a good one, or it keeps getting burned down by demon salamanders. The world can take these goals away, and there's little to nothing we can do.
From a stoic perspective, it's better to take action based more on values than specific goals. If you value independence, you can always find other ways to achieve this without owning a house. You can cook or clean for yourself, pay off any student or credit card debt early, or learn how to wield spears for salamander hunting. They're not buying a house, but they're ways to express independence at that moment.
Most importantly, no matter what form your values take, living by the right ones means no regrets. And no salamander burns.