Sometimes when I’m typing quickly, letters are transposed. This often renders a word unintelligible (e.g. hte), which the spellchecker instantly picks up. Sometimes, however, transposition of certain letters creates a valid word which is not what is meant in those circumstances.’Goal’ and ‘gaol‘ is one such example.
A goal is often a laudable ambition, something to aim for in life. We all need goals; they give purpose to our lives. An aimless, purposeless life will leave us frustrated and drifting.
A gaol is the old-fashioned spelling for a place of imprisonment (the more usual spelling these days is ‘jail’.) This is hardly something sensible people should aspire to. Yet if we are not careful, our goals can very easily become gaols. We can become prisoners of our own success as much as of our failures, allowing our aims and ambitions to become things which drive us beyond that which is healthy or prudent.
Oxford castle & gaol