Two Minutes Lesson: How to Achieve Bigger Goals

We all have some goals in our personal and professional lives. It’s easier to set goals, but harder to actually achieve them. Many people, me included, outline some new year resolutions but how many of us fulfil them eventually. Possibly some “go-getters” succeed but majority fails. There are multiple reasons behind our failure to attain our goals. Below is a simple two-step approach towards successful accomplishment of our objectives.  

Step One: Review and prioritize your goals. 

Some people aim for too many goals and end up achieving nothing. What they fail to realize is that their personal resources: time, energy, attention, motivation, all are finite, which means they can only achieve a finite number of goals. Therefore, the first step towards achieving your goals is to review and prioritize them so that they are practically attainable. 

Step Two: Break down your projects into smaller tasks. 

After reviewing and limiting your list to up to three biggest goals or projects, break them into weekly or daily tasks. Use your unbiased judgement to decide what should be treated as a daily task and what should be on your weekly list. The division of bigger goals into sub goals takes you closer to your destination slowly but surely. 

Take an example of a project: writing a book. Imagine you want to write a book of 50,000 words. Instead of keeping a figure of 50,000 in your mind, start with a number as low as 1000 words. Begin by writing a thousand words a day; if you continue doing this without failing, you will have your book ready after two months. 

The reason for keeping 1000 words in your mind rather than 50,000 is that a larger task has the potential to overwhelm your mind; it is likely that you will keep postponing it and eventually give up out of frustration. I have taken 1000 words as an example, but you can make a pragmatic estimate based on your peculiar routines and stamina. Whatever you select, should be repeatable on daily basis. 

Caution: While performing your daily tasks, beware of two common tendencies: multitasking and procrastination. They are the biggest psychological hazards in the modern world. Both of them distract you from your objectives. 

Many people consider multitasking as a useful skill; however, it is the biggest drain on your attention. Better focus on one thing at a time and finish it before moving on to next one. Keep a notebook with you; note down important things that might distract you and then get back to doing what you were working on. 

In order to avoid procrastination, break your tasks into smaller bits; as short as half an hour task. During that half an hour, avoid all distractions unless something really urgent knocks your door. 

Summary:

  • Review and limit your goals to only necessary items; three is an ideal number.
  • Break down your projects into daily and weekly tasks.
  • Execute your daily tasks passionately without failing.
  • Avoid multitasking and procrastination by working in half an hour work periods. 

Two Minutes Lesson: How to Review Your Goals

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.

Summary:

  • 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:

Values>>> Goals

Needs >>> Desires

Long-term >>> Short-term