Having long term goals helps us come to terms with setbacks and adversity stoically. We gain the courage and the strength to cope with our challenges and understand that they are temporary.
The emphasis being on the ‘s’ in the goals – the plural form. That is why all those planners and reminders are so much in demand all the time. We now have planners/notepads/ reminders even our smartphones. We will see that long white sheet stuck onto the refrigerator of our homes.
The all-important – to do list – Call the doctor and schedule an appointment for the fourth Saturday of the month when Dad has an off day. Get the blood tests done on the second Saturday of the month when Dad has a holiday. Get printouts for all the reports before going to the doctor. The list of groceries is randomly written on that sheet. Work on the power point presentation for the next chapter. Read up the last chapter of the textbook and prepare notes. Do the research and make a note of all the inputs. Create the question paper for the third unit test.
There is such immense relief in simply noting down things with a pencil on a piece of paper. (A ball point pen stops working when we write against a wall or a refrigerator – a pencil works – every time).
We see such notes taped in every office. They are put up on small soft boards. Since all the thinking has already been done – we can now channelize our energy into completing the tasks/chores.
When we schedule our work regularly, we create time for specific things at specific hours. We know what we have to do and so will avoid frittering away our time mindlessly. Because we invested a good ten minutes in creating our agenda for the day or the tasks that need to be taken care of by the end of the week, we are able to work more productively.
We avoid indulging in extended gossip sessions over long coffee breaks. We break down our work into small bite sized chunks so that we are able to work without any stress and unwind with our family over the weekend. The long list puts things in perspective. And when we finish a task, we will most definitely have a smile on our faces when we tick it off on our ‘to do’ list. The entire process streamlines our efforts and time.
That is the charm of working systematically. If this strategy is so effective for our everyday personal and professional lives – it makes a lot of sense to have long term goals for our life too. But the strangest thing happens here – when we ask anyone – total strangers, our friends, our family members, etc. – what the end goal of your life is? Will they give us a blank look?
Are we supposed to have such goals for our life? We are happy just the way we are. We are earning a decent pay package, our family is doing well, our business is flourishing, and we are constantly updating our strategies to improve our business. Should not that suffice?
Prod them some more. Gently and genuinely make them think about it. Give them some time to think about it and discuss it when they are in an entirely relaxed frame of mind.
Hmmmm……well, I would want my business to grow so that I can employ more people and give them some means of earning their livelihood. I want to impart training to the highly skilled but semi-educated people of our city. I want them to gain recognition for their talents and craftsmanship through my business enterprise.
Prod them some more. Keep taking down notes or tap away on that smartphone of yours. Every single detail matters. You have set them thinking. Now, just listen carefully.
I want to lead a healthy life – a disease-free life. I want to buy a more spacious apartment. Or I want to cut down on all my wants and simply focus on my needs and learn to lead a life of simplicity while improving my business.
The goals quite obviously will vary according to the age, gender and marital and financial status of the person.
But if such long-term goals are simply listed down, the reality will gradually sink in. People will simply cut down on junk food and colas on a daily basis first. Gradually they will progress to eating more fruits. Then to eating home-made food regularly. If they want to buy a spacious apartment, they will curb on all their frivolous expenses so that they can buy that apartment.
If they want to give all those skilled artisans of their city the recognition that is due – they will take the first step forward and go ahead and interact with them. They will make friends with them first. They will find out the real challenges that they are facing. They will gently float their ideas to them and see their response. They will then analyze if they are open to changing their designs and patterns to cater to the fashion trends of metropolitan cities. When they start engaging with the people, the process of realizing their long-term goals has begun.
They then go about creating a beautiful website next and take the entire project forward. It is all time consuming, often tedious work but everyone involved knows that the results will pay off only in the long run.
The vision of experiencing success on some distant day fills them with enthusiasm and zeal. No, the path will not always be rosy. There will be parties to attend when your focus on healthy eating melts away on seeing all those goodies. You might simply be forced to switch your job for some unpredictable reason. A crisis may well eat up all the hard-earned money. The artisans may simply decide to seek employment in urban areas because they are fed up with living their lives in abysmal conditions or your web developer may suddenly fall sick.
Challenges have the uncanny knack of simply dropping down on us from all sides suddenly. It is at such times that we feel like hanging up our boots and calling it a day.
It is like that classic scene in the movie – English Vinglish. She simply gets tired of facing all the challenges to complete an English learning course. The road ahead is steep and uphill all the way. Her companions ridicule her because her fancy for learning English does not make sense to them. She almost gives up – but then a great friend or a savior will arrive too to remind you of your long-term dreams and goals.
The great friend and savior might well be your own conscience – because very often – absolutely no one on this big lovely planet earth with millions of people inhabiting it – no one understands what we feel and how dear our long-term goal is for us.
So, we muster up the courage to plod on, square our shoulders, dust off all the criticism, chin ourselves up, dress up in our best clothes, look in the mirror and smile beautifully at ourselves……….and walk out with determination in our steps.
We have goals to achieve folks – a few setbacks don’t matter. We are made of sterner stuff, and we will go about achieving our goals despite all the challenges that we face.
That is the power of having long term goals in our life – our road is all mapped out for us. We may take time off to reflect on our decisions and may revise our strategies, but we also know that we have to move on – by facing all the challenges squarely and overcoming them. So go on – empower yourself with your long-term goals………and create a life of purpose for yourself! What are you waiting for? Grab that pencil!