Setting Goals


It’s already February, so I’m at least a month late, but I do want to talk about “resolutions”.

New Year resolutions are often just a list of behaviours one hopes to comply with in the course of the year, and I have been guilty of making and breaking some of the following…

  • I shall eat wisely
  • I shall be nicer to my mother / brother/ children
  • I shall study harder, save more money, exercise more frequently

For some reason, resolutions tend to be repeated year after year after year. I know.

I wonder if the problem is because a year is too short, and there’s always the next year, and the next… to accomplish what we could not complete this year. Meanwhile, the most important things in our life could be waylaid by resolutions that were not properly thought through. After all, we failed at them because other more important things came up. Say we wanted to eat healthily, but a friend insisted on having a nice meal. Between your friendship, having fun, and your resolution, guess which two won out.

So perhaps the better way of going about it is to figure what is most important to us in the longer term, and aim further down the line to accomplish this. Say, setting goals for 10 years, instead of just one year.

So in my early twenties, the 10 year goal could look like this:

  • pass college
  • get a job with good career prospects as soon as feasible
  • get married and have two children
  • buy a house

So these things should happen in 10 years’ time, or they might be accomplished sooner, in which case, in theory anyway, I can sit back and shake legs until the next 10 year period comes around. That’s something to look forward to, isn’t it? Nothing in there about being a perfect fuddy-duddy and always eating healthily and exuding kindness. You could say healthy eating and kindness are merely means to an end, being essential to the goal of getting married and having two children, so they should be practised anyway, but no need to be perfect.

So now, what would I like to accomplish in the next 10 years? To be honest, I can’t see that far. Somehow, life seems so full of uncertainty and variability right now, so I’m going to modify the technique and consider the next 5 years only.

Very briefly, in the next 5 years, this is what I would like to achieve:

1. To be fabulously fit

2. To travel to places I have never been about once a year

3. To be an expert in a chosen field in my career

Goals are goals because they should be set above the line of what would otherwise ordinarily happen. They must be something more which one aspires to. Hopefully, they are meaningful things one dreams about accomplishing, and would feel happy to achieve. Meanwhile life goes on – seeing to Mom’s needs, enjoying the moments, and taking care of the mortgage, the laundry, the dog.

I find setting a five year target focuses the mind, and gives one stronger purpose. What do you think?

WonderWomanV5

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13 thoughts on “Setting Goals”

  1. “Pointing our canoe” is what we call it. Like Buddhist precepts, not commandments, it recognizes that there is always the variation and impossibility of things that are desired. “Do no harm” is actually impossible, nevertheless, it’s worthwhile to point your canoe in that direction. So, we steer toward a point on the horizon and make corrections regularly.

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  2. I agree that setting realistic goals actually helps us accomplish more than just stating what you want to change or do. I don’t know about everyone else, but I reach goals more often if I can fulfill them in this manner. But one must have goals – otherwise we just walk around aimlessly.

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  3. I think it is important to have a plan/goals. Mine is a five year one but only months after deciding on it I might have to rethink because of changes in my work environment. The key is to be flexible and have a Plan B if possible. I think having goals helps to keep us on track and focussed.

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