Many of us set goals and many more of us don’t. I set my first real goals 15 years ago when I was a few years shy of the retirement age that young people today dream and talk about. I discovered how to set goals from a book by Anthony Robbins and set out in right earnest, going on to write my goals in different areas. The process consisted of a few steps and writing down all goals, however outrageous and how many ever in number and ultimately focus on the four most important goals. That was in August 2001.
I did achieve two of those four goals by the specified time and some more of the other goals since, though not by the time I had estimated. In the initial days, I used to have a ‘Goals Tracker’, a spreadsheet where I logged what actions I had taken during a week so I could monitor my progress. Two years later, circumstances in my life changed drastically and with it, my goals and focus changed too. The tracker was not updated with the regularity it once saw and very soon it got lost in the maze of the various other spreadsheets that my computer housed.
The period that followed was possibly the lowest in my life up until then and being unused to such circumstances, my thoughts veered to the negative. Thankfully, very soon, I realized that I was not using the tools and techniques I had learnt to cope with such situations. This led to introspection, a lot of reading and positive reinforcement that gold was just three feet away. Things changed for the better at the end of six months and I thought, for even better, six months after that. I was again on the path to tracking my goals. The learning continued along with the ups and downs in life and this time around I was better equipped to handle the downs. As Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi writes in his book “Flow”, the reason why some people are weakened by stress while others gain strength from it is because those who know how to transform a hopeless situation into a new flow activity that can be controlled will be able to enjoy themselves and emerge stronger from the ordeal. I continued to achieve some of the other goals that I had written up in 2001. Many years after I had written my first set of goals, I started thinking of what I was truly passionate about and started to venture in this direction and continue to do that.
When I look at the papers of 2001, which I still keep, I see that I am yet to achieve some of the big, hairy, audacious goals I wrote back then, but when I think of the journey to achieving those goals, I guess that is something. I no longer log into the ‘Goals Tracker’ but (to quote from ‘Flow’) ‘instead of insisting that my goals, my intentions, take precedence over everything else, I feel a part of what goes on around me’. I have neither achieved the stupendous success nor the greatness that some of my role models have, but along the way, I discovered certain other things that were more important and worth pursuing. Goals are not the end. They are just the means to discover the true purpose of your life.