Goal setting gives us the motivation to get up with zeal in the morning. Our goals are our driving force. True. And when we achieve our goals, the euphoria is exhilarating. But our sage advice to all our readers would be – create bite sized achievable goals. Let our goals not be so high and mighty and lofty – that in achieving them – we lose out on beautiful experiences and relationships.
Aims, ambitions, goals – it is my goal to win the gold medal at the Olympics. A crisp, concise, precise long term goal like that would force us to sit down and chalk out and break down our long term goal into short term goals. A time frame or a deadline comes into the picture now.
If I want to win the gold medal at the Olympics after four years, I need to work on my fitness level and improve my performance from this milestone to that milestone every six months. In order to reach that milestone, after six months, I need to allocate two hours every evening to work out at the gym and practice my game. In order to create those two hours every day – I need to schedule my day in such and such a manner! I am currently good at my game – I need to become better and should be able to beat the odds and emerge as the best within four years if I follow this regimen for the next six months. After that I need to plan for the next six months……
Visualize the picture of the winner at the Olympics…….years and years of arduous effort – they woke up with the goal, they breathed life into their goal every single moment of their day, they ate to fulfil their goal, they talked and discussed their goal with their coaches and other sports people and they slept with their goal and dreamt of this every single night.
This dream, this goal energized them with determination and gave them the courage to pursue it with single minded dedication – to the exclusion of everything else. For such people, it is not enough if you prove that you are great to yourself alone – they want to prove to the world that they are capable of such feats – they want to show to the world that they are made of stuff that others can look upon with awe.
Some people have this kind of passion to sustain their goals, others may have experienced such severe setbacks in their lives, that achieving that goal is the only way ahead, upward and forward for them.
Change the goal post from winning the Olympics to simply cracking the IIT exams. Thousands of students flock around coaching classes to take a shot at creating a great future for themselves. Some are naturally intellectual, some are average in intelligence and feel that with a big dose of determination and hard work- they can lead a better quality of life at a later stage in life, yet others are clueless about their level of IQ but are desperate – so desperate and so so so tired about leading mediocre lives in abysmal conditions amidst equally desperate family members – that they are willing to stake their present for a better future ………….
Circumstances, the background from which we emerge, the physical, mental, emotional and financial conditioning moulds our thinking and drives us to have a fixed aim or a fixed goal in life. Such people have seen more than they can bear, heard their parents sobbing their hearts out for problems that money could have solved in a jiffy and so work on their goals …….blocking out all their emotions and problems. They simply switch off and focus on the goal day in and day out.
The race begins – the exam bell goes off – the participant sees nothing else – he can feel nothing else except his own pulse and his own heart which is thudding loudly – he breaks into a sweat – the moment of reckoning has arrived – the shot is fired into the air – and he races …….ahead………..his entire body is on fire…..four years of toil, four years of breathing and living and sleeping a dream………endless years of pain, tears, rejection, ridicule, rigorous coaching, faith in his own ability, the sleepless nights of endurance ………..he has pinned all his hopes, his entire life on this single dream……..he races ahead…….ignoring………..unseeing…….blocking out his competitors………he can see, hear and feel only the goal post……….and only after he rips it apart as he races forward does he look back.
Yes – he made it – he is the winner…….and tears – uncontrollable sobbing tears streak his face. He basks in the moment – shies away from intrusion at that instant – he wants to be left alone – his entire body is sagging with relief – his entire body is releasing all the tenseness of four long years.
He hugs his family tightly, he simply does not let go of them. He cries and cries for ages, he laughs with joy but breaks down more often.
The reality will sink in slowly – the victor will need several days to understand that he finally managed to realize his dream goal and turn it into a reality. Slowly, his life will start changing for the better………he is happy and looks upon his family with happiness now. They can all lead a good life now.
Sadly, life does not end on a happy note like in a movie or in a novel. A lot depends on the context, the circumstances and the background. And a lot of things change within a given time frame.
It is like the old adage – We can never step into the same waters again whenever we dip our feet into a flowing river. A lot depends on how this – now victorious young man – handled the journey. The end result –the final goal –the destination of his goal – has been achieved.
But what transpired in those four long years? What kind of life did his other family members lead? Was his goal affecting other people in any way? Did he care to think about such things?
Did he seek the support of his family members during the journey or did he look down upon them with contempt. Did he realize that everyone always did their best in accordance with their ability or did he feel his father was not much of a man? Did his inherent talent make him vain and arrogant? Would he ever acknowledge that a talent is something you are born with – a gift from a higher force – or did he believe that it was of his own making? Did he encourage his fellow mates?
Did he even know that such people like fellow mates existed, lived and thrived alongside him? Was he open and approachable enough to share their challenges over a cup of coffee on a Sunday – or was he so engrossed in his own goal oriented world and his own problems –that he was least inclined to empathize with others?
Depending on all those answers – the victor will either emerge as a happy, mentally healthy humane human being or ………….we can fill in the blanks with our own choice of words here.
It does not matter whether we are competing for the Olympics or for the IIT or simply appearing for an interview. There is nothing wrong in the goal setting process and working towards a goal with determination. Your trials may make you or break you – but hey buddy – everyone out there is participating in a race called life.
Many are simply competing against an outdated version of themselves – that is their Olympic game – that is their IIT exam – that is their crucial interview – they are more focused on becoming better human beings first……they fight their battles their way – at a pace that they are comfortable with – they spend their time on an inward journey and their competitors are ego, pride, selfishness, anger, jealousy……..they win too – they participate in the Olympics of life everyday – but they do not mind losing occasionally or every now and then – they so want their fellow mates and family members to win and experience success and be happy too…….it is never a solo endeavor for them……..their definition of a race is different, their entire equation of life is different. Aren’t we all winners then? You decide!