Thursday, August 03, 2006

Setting Goals

Steve Pavlina has posted another interesting article about setting goals you will actually achieve. I'm interested in this topic because I believe that setting goals is an important part of success. Without having a target to shoot for, it's difficult to know where you are or where you're going.

Steve's take on the whole idea of setting goals is a bit different from what I've heard before, though. He discusses the concept of setting goals within the context of time and how your perception of the present and the future figures into successfully reaching goals.

Here's an interesting quote from the article that summarizes the main point:

The purpose of goal-setting isn’t to control the future. That would be senseless because the future only exists in your imagination. The only value in goal-setting is that it improves the quality of your present moment reality. Setting goals can give you greater clarity and focus right now. Whenever you set a goal, always ask yourself, “How does setting this goal improve my present reality?” If a goal does not improve your present reality, then the goal is pointless, and you may as well dump it. But if the goal brings greater clarity, focus, and motivation to your life whenever you think about it, it’s a keeper.

He's suggesting that you focus on the present rather than the future when setting goals. At first, this idea sounds kind of wacky. I mean, goals are about the future, right? Yes, and no.

One thing that I realized years ago after fantasizing so many times about things I'd like to do or be was that I would have to live every moment of time between now and then. Think about that. Of course it's completely obvious, but if you really think about it, this idea definitely changes the way you view setting goals.

As an example, lots of people think about how great it would be to be a doctor or a lawyer. It would be cool, huh? But then consider the amount of time and effort you'd have to put in order to get to that point of being a doctor or lawyer. Years and years of school and then more years of long, hard hours before the payoff. Is it worth it?

If you're completely focused on the end result and it's something that gets you pumped up on a daily basis, then maybe it is. However, if you're more interested in how you'll be living your life from day to day, it might not be. If not every day, then most of those days you will have to be able to get up and convince yourself that it is worth it. If you're not getting something valuable out of most of those days, you won't be able to do it.

The whole point of the article makes a lot of sense to me within this context. Human beings have a unique ability to imagine the future, but still we have to live in the here and now. How many precious moments are we willing to sacrifice to get to that imaginary future?



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