Goals or Challenges: Five Traits
If you have ever had any kind of mentor, or leader in your life one of the things that they probably told you was to make sure that you always have some goals in your life. Some people might call this a five year plan, or a ten year plan. Others may refer to these goals as a bucket list. More recently for me this has culminated into something that I am referring to as the 100 Challenge. While these things are not exactly what some people would call goals, I am treating them in a similar way. By calling them a challenge I am setting the goals with a bit of a competitive edge. I like to win, and as such, winning by accomplishing 100 goals or challenges is something that I think can help me to accomplish them mentally. Additionally, setting goals and keeping them is not always fun. Overcoming and conquering challenges on the other hand can be fun. Semantics really. My 100 Challenges for 2015
However, regardless of how you view them or what you call them, goals are an important thing to maintain in life. Below I am going to provide five different characteristics on goals, and why they are important.
Completing Goals is Only a Beginning to New Goals
An interesting aspect of having goals in our lives is that by completing one of our goals we are simply establishing a new one. For example, if we have a goal to become debt free, then our next one would be to save $5000 or something similar. If our goal is to have a child, then the next goal is to raise the child and see them succeed. By doing this we are constantly pushing ourselves to the next level. While some goals may not be able to be replaced by a simple increment, once the old goals are out of the way they can be replaced with entirely new goals. Many goals once completed will leave us with a dramatic change in our schedules. For example, it is a goal to finish college. Once you finish college you are met with a lot of free time. Even if you get a job working 40 hours a week, you likely have more free time to do things. You do not have tests, classes, or the social life that you once had. Therefore, you have more time to make goals for the new stage of life that you are met with. You know that there is a problem if you ever come to a point in your life where you are no longer making goals. Even in retirement there are things that we strive to achieve.
Goals Prevent Life Stagnation
Perhaps the greatest purpose behind setting goals in life is to give us something to work toward. It is keeping our eye on the prize. If there is nothing in our lives to look forward to, our lives begin to lack purpose and meaning. This eventually can lead to depression, loneliness, and even in extreme cases suicidal thoughts. Having goals helps us to carry on when things get hard. Without established goals with a predicted timeline, empty space in our schedule will be filled with things that are not necessary or healthy. Binge watching an entire series on Netflix, or buying a 12 pack of Red Bull to stay up for a week playing a new video game can be prevented by having healthy goals in life.
Have a Variety of Goals
In order to have all areas of our lives covered, it is necessary to have goals of varying levels. By this I mean we need to establish short term and long term goals as well as easy goals and hard goals. Another way to increase the variety of goals is by creating them for different parts of our lives. Financial goals are very popular as well as fitness goals and spiritual goals. Unfortunately family goals are sometimes forgotten as well as personal goals. It is okay to make it a goal to relax and enjoy life once in a while. Ideally we want to create balance in our lives and the goals we set should help to establish this.
Have at least a few Well-Defined Goals
Just having general goals thrown out there does not do a lot of good. You cannot make your goal as vague as “I want to make more money,” or “I want to lose weight.” Instead, your goals need to be defined. This means giving them a time limit, or a range of times. If a time limit does not seem possible for a particular goal, then the focus should be put on other parameters for the goal. Perhaps there are steps to completing it. Maybe you can break down a large goal into smaller more achievable steps. You want goals that are going to push you; however, you also want goals that you can achieve with relative ease.
Goals give us a Needed Sense of Accomplishment
I believe that the ability to accomplish goals is a basic human need. We need to feel like we are doing something with our lives. Even if it is a false sense of accomplishment, we need to be doing something or we will go insane. Happy, successful people accomplish things. Depressed people sit around thinking about all the things other people are doing while they sit around and do nothing with their time and energy. While it can be good for a time to sit back and do nothing but meditate and dwell on our thoughts, these times periods should be intentional and help to recharge us for the daily grind.
An interesting way to think about the sense of accomplishment is with Video Games. They are built to make you feel like you are achieving something. You beat a new level, you learn a new ability, you defeat a new enemy, you unlock an achievement or high score, and you develop your character. These things are all accomplishments and they make us feel good. As a pretty avid gamer myself, whenever something like this happens you experience a brief feeling of euphoria. There is probably a release of some chemical in the brain or whatever. Either way, part of this feeling no doubt comes from the fact that a goal was met and we accomplished something. A long time ago I remember reading an article about how Video Games are dangerous because of this false sense of accomplishment. I have since forgotten the original article, but I found a similar one on Buzzle.com:
The basic design of most video games is based on the objective of completing one level, in order to move on to the next level. Since these levels are possible to finish in a short span of time with the reward of being promoted to a higher level, it creates a false sense of achievement and superiority complex amongst children and youth. The feeling of achievement and/or setting a record gives a euphoric sensation. Now, every one [sic] likes to feel accomplished and the majority of the video gamers fall in the age group of 8 to 18 years, which is a very vulnerable period in a person’s life, as he/she goes through physical, emotional and psychological changes. Hence, they develop an addiction to the happy feelings. Since these are only temporary, they are lured in to keeping them up by prolonging period of gaming.
Wow, I actually wrote my paragraph before reading that. Apparently I was onto something with the state of euphoria thing.
Setting goals is an essential part of our wellbeing. Our goals help us to achieve new levels as a person and make strides toward a better future. How about you? What helps you to make goals and then achieve them? Let me know in a comment below!