The next phase of this project consists of setting goals. This means improving the basic, but healthy, foundation and how that is expressed. These are a set of challenges with ourselves that provide us with something to work towards, instead of just being who we are. Although I consider being and expressing with clarity who you are as a necessity for contentment in life, setting goals is not. We do this because we want to further improve, not for that initial building block.
Rigid goal setting is not my strongest area for a few reasons. Therefore before going into how to set goals, I would like to highlight these dangers to avoid:
It is extremely important to not base our identities, or beliefs about ourselves, on the results of these goals. These beliefs have already been established in the foundations and no result, or lack of result, should eat away at our confidence. The goal will be an expansion of who you are, not the essence. Even if you do fail, that failure will not destroy you, because the goal is not all that you are. You should also not become addicted to goal setting in a way that you end up avoiding all other areas of life, just to complete one goal. The expression of all areas should continue whilst you are working towards goals. Also, working on one at a time can help avoid over-indulgence.
This said, it is however necessary to have some direction and challenges for us to work towards. These must be relevant to the foundation and expression already put in place.
This is an example of how the goals are connected to the the expression part, which in turn comes from our strong foundations. These goals must be set for each area of life, from career to health, social and so forth. This maintains a balance between them and avoids us from leaving one area behind. The contents of the goal should also be clear.
Once goals are set, we need to establish daily tasks that will take us closer to the end goal.
Tasks and goals
Tasks are not objectives, they are steps to be taken and done in order to arrive at our objectives. They are activities that we must do in order to arrive closer to our goals. Regardless of having goals, we always have tasks to do daily; work, errands etc.
I like to divide tasks into different categories based on their priority. There are high priority tasks and low priority tasks.
Low priority means that even though we have things to do that day, if we do not do them it is not going to affect us in a drastic way. High priority tasks are the ones that failing to do would implicate falling behind on schedules or anything of importance.
How can we decide then what is a task and if it is really important?
In order to set our tasks, we must look at our goals; where is it that we are going and where do we want to arrive? From here, not only can we see if our daily tasks are in line with that objective, but we can also create tasks.
For example if we want to go towards an interesting career, what can we do today that will help us get there? In the example above I put a goal of learning a language. A daily task could be to learn some new vocabulary.
Tasks are also helpful because they help to eliminate the feeling of guilt when we take time off; without a task list we do not know exactly what it is we have to do (there is also a lack of motivation to get started) and when we do not do anything we feel guilty for not working and letting time pass.
How do you organise tasks from different areas of life?
This again depends on the individual; one can either have one list with all tasks together, or a list for each area or goal that is being worked on.
All tasks can be grouped together in one list, split by by area of life, or again by the precise goal of each area.
Here again each one has its advantages and disadvantages; all tasks together can be confusing, especially if we only want to work on one thing and have to read through tasks that have nothing to do with it. With specific task lists we can decide to work on one area, or one project and then read what we have to do in that area. It depends on personal preferences; some people may prefer to have all tasks together and decide what to work on based on the tasks. It is not important which is chosen, the important thing is that it helps us arrive where we want.
Very often I see people trying to improve their lives by starting with goals. This can work, however I believe the two blocks underneath are necessary first.
The ‘goals and improvement’ part is a gateway to building a new foundation, which we will explore later on. Without this improvement and challenge it will be a lot more difficult to get towards our potential. With the goals being a natural expansion, working towards them should not be a painful experience but rather one of curiosity and wonder. How much am I capable of learning? How much am I capable of growing? If I am just expanding my starting point, shouldn’t all this come naturally anyway?
As mentioned before, I do not believe in rigid goal setting as a way of improvement, although it may work for some people, but I view it instead as a way of adding direction and layers to an already grounded person.