Imagine you are invited to a buffet dinner. If you are like me, you might like to fill your plate in the first round, and fifteen minutes later, end up thinking how to finish the unfinished. Well, life in twenty first century is no less than a buffet party. From education to fashions to professions, the extent and variety of options available to us are astoundingly enormous.
But just like the buffet dinner, you can’t have everything on your plate, or you might upset your stomach. This makes it increasingly important to be selective about what we want – and more importantly, what we don’t want – in our personal and professional lives. Here are two questions that you need to ask yourself while differentiating between the essential and inessential:
Question One: What are my values and goals?
Let me first elaborate the difference between values and goals. Values are intangible sensations that can be felt internally e.g. honesty, humility, creativity etc. Goals, on the other hand, are somewhat more tangible in nature; for example, graduating with a distinction, being promoted to a general manager, buying a new house etc.
It is worth noting that while you might not be able to jot down more than a few values, the list of your goals could be virtually endless. That is where you need the balance; a few good values and a couple of goals, not more than that. Also keep your goals aligned with your values; for instance, I might like to earn a lot of money (my goal) but not at the cost of my integrity (my value).
Question Two: Which of my goals are important (short term and in the long run)?
The best way to answer this question is to get out of yourself and examine your existence as an external observer (figuratively speaking!). Go through the list of your goals; try to differentiate between needs and desires. Just to outline, needs refer to utilities that affect your life physically; desires, on the other hand, stem from emotions in general. Buying a car could be a need; buying a Bentley would be a desire, off course. Prioritize your needs over desires.
Another differentiation should be between short and long-term objectives. Again, short term goals could be a product of emotions e.g. buying an expensive dress for your wedding ceremony. No doubt, it is the most important moment of your life but if you intend to wear it on your wedding day and never again, this might not be the best use of your money. Aligning your short-term tasks to your long-term objectives could be a favorable approach.
- Limit your goals to the extent you can handle comfortably
- No matter what goals you have, adopt a few positive values in your life
- Do not sacrifice your values for attaining your goals
- Differentiate between needs and desires; remember needs are superior to desires
- Review your short-term objectives in the light of your long-term goals
A few key words to remember: goals vs values, needs vs desires, short vs long-term objectives
The order goes like this:
Needs >>> Desires
Long-term >>> Short-term