Aha! it is the time of the year, when people get hooked into recounting and recollecting how the bygone year went by. Questions will be asked like, ‘How was this year for me?’, ‘What did I do last year?’, ‘Did I get to do the things that I said I would’? etc. Flashes of the important periods from the last 12 months will begin to formulate a picture in your mind. This picture might be of a resounding relief, astounding success or deafening silence of loss or despair.
Let’s face it, life is tough and never easy. It will be more of the things that you did not do than what you did. Some days you end up being the statue and on other days you end up being the bird. It is never fair. People always ask me, what is the point in making resolutions, when you know that you are not going to meet them? Self help gurus plan programs around goal setting, managing resolutions and meeting expectations that one would like to set for oneself. There are many products out there in the market for goal setting; some work, and some do not. All these programs assume that the person responsible for the action item would show the due diligence in accomplishing these goals.
What do I do for goal setting? Couple of years ago, I used to create mind maps on the most important things I need to do in a year. I used to discuss them with my spouse and make her create a similar one for her goals. Then we used to sit together and discuss how to meet/ achieve our goals together. At the end of the year we used to compare our success and discuss our failures and how to learn from them. This method was very successful and we have seen how our life grew leaps and bounds. However we did face lots of roadblocks and many failures. I would like to share some of my learnings:
Looking at the bigger picture:
I believe, it is important to set goals. I also believe in long-term planning and to look at the bigger picture and work backwards on how to reach that position. For e.g., in 5 years, I set aside a reasonable goal of obtaining an MBA degree. I work backwards to my present and set practical goals on how to prepare for my GMAT exam, research about the best universities and scholarships available and how much will the financial impact versus. benefit to doing this degree on my family be, etc. I believe this type of thinking would help me eventually get that MBA or degree within that time period.
Understanding procrastination, using delays to my benefit:
Abraham Lincoln once said ‘if I am asked to cut a tree in 7 hours, I would use 6 hrs to sharpen my axe’. One can argue that he could have said it to consider planning before undertaking any task. However it could also be read to plan considering delays.
I am a firm believer in margins. We need to set aside margins during goal setting. For e.g., I resolve not to eat donuts in the New Year and then on January 4, 2015, I give into temptation and eat a tasty donut, lamenting to everyone that New Year resolutions never work! Am I a weak person? Nope. If I account for the fact that I am susceptible to breaking my resolution, yet I will press on diligently and earnestly to reduce my intake significantly by recording every time I eat a donut or even when I break my resolve, I would only eat a low-calorie donut etc.In doing so, I inculcate in myself a desire that I can reduce my donut intake significantly and I can and I will do away with consuming donuts eventually.
I would like to conclude by including a few pointers for goal setting:
1. Always keep the big picture in mind while setting goals. Don’t focus on mere yearly goals.
2. Seek help with goals and if you are married align your goals with those of your spouse. Collective responsibility will help in success.
3. Always factor in margin during goal setting.
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