I am sure most of us have experience setting goals, or making resolutions. Some of my friends have made goals for the decade. Not surprising, since we are all in our forties – and it does make sense to look at where we see ourselves during the next few years.
It is fun to see how we go about setting these goals at different stages in our lives. The process is very enjoyable, because we get to sit back (or stand back) and imagine the future, based on what is past. The best part is that feeling of hope and optimism and that sense of “yes, I can” ness. Everything seems possible. Ask my son, Vidur, who thinks nothing is impossible, or rather, that everything is possible!
…sometimes those little doubts creep in with the dreaded “what if”. After all, we are human, and if we’ve got any experience – we cannot help thinking of positive as well as negative outcomes. Each year, my Mom used to encourage me to make a “wish list” that I would aim to achieve by the end of the year, with quarterly reviews.
A little flashback..
Back in 1987, when Mom and I moved to a different city with just a sewing machine, some utensils for cooking, a couple of mattresses and a suitcase of clothes as our luggage, my wish list read as follows:
a/ A cupboard
b/ A bike
c/ A refrigerator
d/ A mixer grinder
e/ A TV
f/ A string of pearls (go ahead, laugh)
We lived in a one room accommodation. This room was one of two rooms on either side of the garage in the ground floor of a bungalow, which was spread across the first floor. There was a regular two bedroom accommodation occupying the rest of the ground floor around the back which was rented by another family.
We had the room on the left of the garage, while the right side room was rented by a bachelor. Both rooms had to share a toilet cum bathroom to the left of our room. Our entire living quarters was one room with a granite slab on the far wall, to which was attached a sink with a – oh luxury – a tap with running water. There was a strip of windows at the side of the entry door.
Well, at the end of that year, I only managed to save enough from my meager salary to buy a refrigerator. I also managed to get a mixer grinder, that made life much easier for us, because Mom was the cook-from-scratch type. The cupboards looked somewhat impossible even for the next year, so I simply went and hired a couple of cupboards for the next year.
I convinced myself that the bike was not that important because my office was just over two kilometers from where we lived, so I walked to and from work (thereby saving transport costs, adding to the savings). I also kept fit – which happened naturally. I was only 24 and healthy.
What about the things I did not accomplish?
The items that were not achieved on the wish list got carried over to the next year, by which time Mom also got a job at the local school – and our income grew. Of course, while we didn’t scrimp on our food budget, we were quite strict with our expenses because we were keen to achieve our goals. And we did.
Three months into the new year and I proudly brought home a black and white CRT 14” TV. That we only had a few hours of Doordarshan in 1988 and that I had to hold the antenna if I wanted to watch one of the few TV programs back then, Chitrahaar is another story 😀
The point about setting goals
We had the courage to dream. We allowed our imagination to run somewhat wild at times – and managed to fill our note book with wishes we were keen on fulfilling for ourselves. The dreams gave us hope in our future and there was no dearth of ideas in our heads. We reviewed our wish list every three months to see how we could get closer to our goals.
Our criteria for setting goals
and making our wish list was as follows:
- Did we really want “it”? Were we being pressurized to pursue the goal?
- Would it hurt anyone?
- Was it complementary to our other goals?
- Were we emotionally strong enough to stick with the process?
- Did we visualize reaching the goal?
Let me tell you, setting goals may be easy, but achieving them? Not so much. They need oodles of commitment. And if we cannot visualize ourselves reaching the goal, you can forget aspiring for it. Goals must also be specific, divided into short term and long term – and have deadlines. And it is critical to write them down. The “Affirmation” theory.
While setting goals they must also fulfill the following criteria.
When I set mine, I asked myself, when I reach my goals,
- Will I be happier?
- Will I be healthier?
- Will I be wealthier?
- Will I keep my friends, make new ones?
- Will I enjoy peace of mind?
- Will I feel more secure?
You see, it was important to say “yes” to at least one of those questions for every goal. (More is better). If not, I would chop it off my list. Most important: I remembered to factor in my family and my loved ones when I answered those questions.
My Mom taught me a very important thing. She’d say, “Do not mistake pleasure for happiness. There’s a big difference.”