Goals, What Goals?
Recently I had an opportunity to talk to teens and young adults about time management. I started off saying time management is managing your time well so that you use your time to achieve your goals. After the talk, one of the questions was somewhere in the lines of ‘goals, what goals?’, in essence the question was how do I set goals.
That is a very fair question. You are not born with goals etched in your brain, you don’t know much about goals during schooling. The first time I heard about goals was when I started working, that too, I think couple of years after I started working. So, it is a great question and in this post I am going to address - what is this ‘goal’, why should we set them? when can we start setting them? how do I get started with goals?
Goal is a target you want to achieve. It cannot be just some vague thing such as ‘I want to be a millionaire’. Firstly, the goal needs to be objective and specific. You can say ‘I want to have $1,000,000 in my bank account’. Secondly, a goal should have a timeline. You can add that, ‘ I want to have $1,000,000 in my bank account by my 35th birthday’. Here are some practical example goal:
I want to be 70Kgs by 31 Dec 2023.
I want to save Rs.3,00,000 by 31 Dec 2023.
I want to get admission in a top B school in Australia by 31 Oct 2023.
I want to run and finish the Tata Mumbai marathon this year.
All these are objectively defined, measurable outcomes which are also time-bound. The reason why it is important to add time to the outcome is that it pushes us to act upon it. If the goal was to finish the marathon in our lifetime, we will just keep pushing it to next year. Without a deadline we won’t have anything to hold us accountable. Secondly, it also lets us plan our habits in the days, weeks and months leading up to the end date.
Goal gives us a direction to lead our life. Honestly, goals make our lives easy. When you decide to go after a few goals, everything else automatically becomes deprioritized, which makes choices easy. If your goal is to lose weight, you can say no to junk food. I understand the motivation has to be very high to be able to say no to junk food, but because you have a goal, it is not a dilemma at every meal whether to have junk or not. Or if your goal is to learn to play keyboard this year, then it is easy to say no to other instruments. Or if your goal is to do an MBA, you are saying no to other masters degree. So, when you have goals, your life becomes easier. You can focus your time on your goals and conquer them.
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You can set goals at any/all stage of your life. You could be in school, college, employed, married, single, parent, whatever stage of life you are in you can always set goals to guide you through that phase of life.
The way I set goals, mostly yearly, is by looking at different aspects of my life - Physical(fitness), spiritual(prayer time, Bible reading), mental(read books, meditation, learn something new), financial(reduce debts to x, increase assets to y), relational(spend time with family, friends), career (get promotion or a new job etc).
These categories will be different depending on the individual and the season of life you are in. If you are in school or college, your primary goal might be to get good grades and secondary goal might be to become the best at a playing a sport or mastering a musical instrument. Once you have these categories of areas, then it becomes easier to figure out what your goals should be for each of these areas.
Personal story: When I was in college, my goal was to get placed in a firm (any firm!) with a job so that I can start paying off my college loan. Because of that, I spent a lot of hours studying (good grades, better the job prospects), participating in sports & college events (because I had heard that extra curricular activities will make a candidate more favorable), honed my analytical skills( to do better at the shortlisting aptitude tests) etc. It paid off, I got placed a year before finishing college. If I didn’t have that goal in mind I might have gone wayward, we will never know. I will be honest, I didn’t know about goals and such at that time, but I had some sense of direction because of that need I had at that time. I wish someone had told me about goals sooner.
Tip: IF you are in that season of life where you are not sure what stream you should study in 11th. Or if you want to do masters degree or just work for a few more years. Or you are not sure if you are in the right career path. Reach out to someone older than you who has trod a path similar to yours.
In the next post, I will address how to achieve these goals. Subscribe to get those posts delivered to your inbox.
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