Working with Long Term Goals


by Jayaram V

A lot of people dream about their lives and their future, but do not make an effort to set goals for themselves and work for them. They just drift along, rather aimlessly, expecting the best, but not doing enough to secure their future. For them having goals is rather a tedious affair, which requires a great effort, discipline and focus for which they are not mentally or emotionally prepared. Many people do entertain dreams and desires about their future.

They wish for better lives and more success. However, dreams and desires are not goals. Only a few succeed in shaping them into meaningful, precise and well-written goals. Vague thinking about future does not qualify as goal. A goal is not just what you want to do in life in a wishful way. A goal is a dream with a theme, a picture with full details, and a purpose with a definite plan. Goals must be clear, specific, written, realistic and achievable. If you have clear goals, you will have greater focus, confidence, resolve and clarity.

In spiritual life goal oriented effort is not appreciated because it connotes ambition and desired-ridden actions, neither of which are helpful to overcome worldliness. On the spiritual path you have to live freely, without any encumbrances, practicing renunciation and detachment, and letting things happen on their own, rather than making them happen. Striving for particular goals by a spiritual person is deemed retrogressive, since it negates the very purpose for which renunciation is recommended.

Ideally, a spiritual person flows with life, dealing with situations as they arise, without worrying about his survival or success or what may happen to him the next moment. In normal life we cannot afford to live this way, although perhaps at times it is good to let go of things and live without the burden of planning for the next hour. However, a spiritual person still may have goals without being unduly attached to them, involved with them or reticent about them. What is important is the attitude and the manner in which he or she may pursue them.

There are many reasons why people do not prefer setting goals for themselves. Most of them internal and some are circumstantial. The fear of failure, ignorance, prejudice, irrational beliefs, the lack of discipline and focus, the lack of drive and ambition, resource constraints are a few reasons why people hesitate to set ambitious goals for them and move forward in their lives. Many people do not think they deserve success because of the low self-esteem from which they suffer. These and other factors develop in them a certain rigid mindset which makes them averse to goal oriented effort.

Brian Tracy, in his book, the Maximum Achievement, identified the following seven reasons why people do not prefer having goals and thereby fail to unlock their hidden potential to succeed.

1. They are not serious about their success.

2. They do not take the responsibility of their lives.

3. They suffer from guilt and unworthiness.

4. They do not know the importance of goals.

5. They do not know how to set goals properly.

6. They suffer from fear of rejection or criticism.

7. They are afraid of failure

People who do not keep goals in their lives for one reason of another can be divided into the following four main categories.

1. Those who do not know that goals are important and necessary for success and happiness. This is a common problem among those who do not have proper education, who have not been exposed to any information about goals or their importance. It does not mean they do not think about their future or improving it. They just do not know the mechanics of goal setting. They may do better if they are taught how they can improve their lives by choosing a few important goals and working for them.

2. Those who do not consider goals are necessary important. These are the people who have some exposure to the importance of goals, have seen, read or heard about it, but are not still convinced that goals can do them any good. They may even mistake having goals for lack of freedom and self-imposed restriction. Therefore, they prefer to live their lives without specific goals and aims. They may have their own values and principles, which they may put to work with faith and dedication but they lack motivation to establish clear and specific goals. Such people may do better in their lives and surpass their own expectations, if they rethink about their attitude towards goals and choose a few of them to transform their lives and destinies.

3. Those who do not have the commitment and discipline to work for their goals. These people have the knowledge of goals and may also keep some goals. However, they do not make adequate effort because they do not want to lose their freedom or commit to the discipline which is required to pursue goals. They do not like the hard work, structure and discipline, the goal oriented effort demands. They do not have the patience or the ambition to achieve their goals, or deal with the challenges they may face while reaching them. For them having goals and working for them is too stressful, monotonous, mechanical to pursue them.

4. Those who avoid having goals for fear of failure, criticism or public ridicule. People with self-doubt and low self-esteem generally fall in this category. They do not want to pursue goals because they do not want to fail or fall in their own esteem or that of others, and humiliate themselves in the process. They exaggerate their fears or indulge in irrational thinking to avoid having any goals at all. This is the flight response which prevents them from being effective in their lives. For some failure is a learning experience because they have a growth mindset. Those with rigid mindset feel crushed by disappointments and failure and prefer avoiding it rather than deal with it. Therefore, they do not want to take any risks by setting goals and deal with the uncertainty arising from their actions.

If you are one of these, see what you can do to overcome whatever resistance you may to set goals and work for them. The lives of successful people show that their success was achieve mainly through goals and goal-oriented effort.

The most successful people are usually those who have written goals, who know where they want to go and in which direction they want to go. We may not be able to predict future with certainty and we may never be sure whether we achieve our goals or not but we can minimize uncertainty to some extent, by planning in advance, maximizing our potentials, working on our strengths, working around our weaknesses, learning from our failures and keeping ourselves in a positive frame of mind.

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