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  • Dr. Purna Bikkasani

Goal Setting

Review your goals daily. “Anybody can be a superior man. It is only necessary to decide to be one. — Confucius 551-479 B.C.

Goal setting was not relevant for hunters, gatherers or farmers in the early stages of evolution because the fundamental desire to survive and thrive was intuitive to the biological evolution. However, we live in a different world where goal setting is necessary.

Education, industrialization, technology, prosperity and consumerism have produced vast lifestyle choices in the 21st century. The cultural, racial, social, political and geographical boundaries in the world are dissolving rapidly. As citizens of this global village, everyone shares the same resources, opportunities and challenges equally. People cherishing freedoms, equal rights and opportunities need to make choices. Growing specializations, technological advancements and expectations require knowledge and wisdom to make right decisions, which is why goal setting has become a mandate in the modern world.

Choosing a select few of these goals from the complex network of lifestyles can be intimidating. However, not making any particular choices in the midst of a complex and confusing network of lifestyles is akin to attempting to fly a broken kite in the sky. A clear path and focus are essential to wade through the complex maze of life today. For these reasons, goal setting has become a standard practice for governments, legislators, political parties, social organizations, schools, and other organizations in society.


Most people act on instincts motivated by egotism rather than from conscious awareness. Often, they do not anticipate the result of their actions until it is too late. In goal setting, you make rational choices based on reason and logic. You decide what you love to do. Knowing why and what you want lays out your path to self-realization. It enables you to align your goals with your beliefs, values and ethics, hence eliminating inner conflict. It is both empowering and enjoyable; therefore, goal setting is a source of inner peace, harmony and joy.


Goal setting channels your thoughts, desires and wants into an actionable path. It delineates a roadmap to organize your vision and mission in life. Goal setting requires deciding, prioritizing and balancing your time and resources. It is exciting to choose and set a path, but be ready to alter the course as needed while focusing on the destination.


Time has no beginning or end. You cannot create or destroy it. You divide it arbitrarily into years, months, days, hours, minutes and seconds for convenience. Time is the most precious element in life. Eventually, you must realize that you cannot control it but can manage yourself within it. Time management is not squeezing everything into every minute of the day. Some of my friends schedule every waking minute of their day. However, this mindset stifles creativity, innovation and spontaneity. You need leisure and recreation. A contemplative mind is productive, stress-free and enduring. Strive for effectiveness, not efficiency. Efficiency is a mechanized concept whereas, effectiveness is planning, organizing and making logical moves; effectiveness is doing the right things at the right time and the right place. Keeping the end in mind is a relevant act. Effectiveness is avoiding or minimizing deviations, distractions and distortions.


The goal is an actionable path whereas the mindset is a step away from the action. Mindset relates to all activities, ideas, politics, beliefs and faiths; it is the most energy efficient mental tool. The downside is that a mindset does not accommodate change quickly. My physical trainer is a young, skilled, precise thinking German immigrant who habitually keeps his house clean and tidy. One day, he had his mind set to clean his house after work. When he arrived home, his wife asked him to go out for dinner. He declined her offer in order to stay home and clean. As a result, he had a clean house but an unhappy wife. Mark began rationalizing his behavior with me. He could not understand why his wife would not have appreciated him cleaning the house. I quietly questioned his wisdom of preferring a happy wife to a clean home. Indeed, he could have done both if he had arrived home with an open mind.

Your mindset rides on autopilot and fails to heed. A mindset is a terrific organizational tool that can cut both ways, so keep a sliver of a flexible mind to accommodate last minute changes. Therefore, even when you set your mind to do something, it is important to count down before launching the space shuttle, thus, saving yourself some grief.


Several activities are required to setting goals effectively. An important one is to create the right environment to sit comfortably to reflect and imagine the past, present and future of your life. During this time, you can question where you are and want to be. When you begin establishing goals, expect perplexities, inner conflicts and uncertainties. You should make a shortlist of the most important goals pertaining to the major domains of your life, such as health, education, work, relationships and finances. Consider having optimal resources at your disposal because it will take a few weeks to resolve the internal dialogue about various items and aspects. Recognize the relative significance of each goal and prioritize them. Nothing is impossible to achieve; this impeccable belief and dedication herald’s success.

Goals are categorized into short-term, long-term and lifetime. Short-term goals are set for a year or less. Most goals fall into this category. Financial, retirement and other long-range plans are considered long-term goals because they are set at five to ten years. Long-term goals need annual appraisal. Some people mistakenly think goal setting consists of making a long list of things they desire. It is nothing to do with how many goals or how lofty those goals are, it is simply spelling out on paper what you want to do and when. Day to day chores and task lists are NOT goals but helpful tools. Task lists sort out many mundane tasks and keep you on track with organizing and saving time. It is a good habit to possess and practice.


Writing down your goals on paper brings clarity and commitment to action. It is a key to success. A study at a Harvard business school revealed that students who wrote goals were more successful than those who did not. The goals, time targets, resource allocation and the experiences should be chronicled. Unfortunately, even today, only a small percentage of people set their goals in writing. Prioritizing goals are critical. Every task is time and space bound. In daily life, your tasks fall into urgent, critical, routine, leisurely, important and mundane categories. Urgent matters are a priority; doing preventive maintenance and doing things on time can eliminate many urgent things. Priorities change as the dynamic of the activities changes. Priorities along with resource allocation need adjustment along the way.


Avoid conflicting goals. For example, you want to make more money, so you decide to work overtime or take up a second job. However, it conflicts with spending more time with your family or on leisure. Both goals compete for the same time, creating conflicts in the allocation of resources, such as labor and money, in the midst of dealing with ventures with different emphasis and time targets.


Finally, analyze your goals with the following questions.

• Do they include all the main domains of life?

• Did you pick the most important things in your life?

• Did you prioritize and time target them?

• Do they match your values, principles and ethics?

• Do they meet the purpose of your life?

• Are you set to monitor their progress?

• Do they include preventive health care?


Finally, you should set your goals in a systematic order to remember them quickly. Begin with personal, family, work, business, travel, recreation, etc. Some people form mnemonics or mind maps for easy recollection. Memorizing eases up the review of goals. Review your goals daily and more often when issues arise. When demands intrude on your time and resources, make sure to act with your goals in mind. Record your goals on index cards, a smartphone or a screen saver. Publicize your goals and do not be bashful to share them with others. Open commitment deepens your dedication for success.

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