Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Such a cliche.
You may have heard that question in a business setting or on a job interview…
… and thought it was nonsense.
How could I possibly know where I will be in 5 years?
So much can happen over the course of time that a 5-year plan sounds useless, doesn’t it?
Setting goals may be the most useful thing that you ever do. It was for me at least.
This is not the first time you’ve heard me talk about the importance of goal setting, and it will definitely not be the last. Here are 5 reasons why you have to set goals right away.
Goals Push Us Forward
Having a goal written down with a deadline for accomplishment gives you something to plan and work for. A written goal is an external representation of your inner desires; it’s a constant reminder of what you need to accomplish.
There’s a very common trend that comes with working towards goals that we’re all familiar with: you set your mind to something, you get excited and work like mad, and then motivation starts to fade.
Having goals that you can focus on helps you better connect yourself with your desires, and gives you the motivational energy you need to work through periods where your focus inevitably starts to fade.
Goals Transform Mountains into Walkable Hills
Most of us have big dreams that seem impossible to accomplish. It’s easy to feel discouraged when you’re staring at a massive mountain.
Planning towards smaller goals not only makes it easier to formulate a definite plan of action that we can start working on right away, but research has shown that hitting smaller milestones provides real motivation.
In his fantastic book, “Delivering Happiness“, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh describes how offering smaller, but more frequent promotions resulted in an increase in employee satisfaction, even though the final accomplishment was the same.
Instead of offering one big promotion every 18 months, for example, the management at Zappos found that offering smaller promotions, say every 3 months, would result in increased employee satisfaction and motivation.
You can take this lesson and apply it to your own life. Take the mountains you need to climb and break them up into smaller hills that you can walk. You’ll be happier and more motivated to start working towards that next milestone on your way to greatness.
Goals help us believe in ourselves
Setting goals for yourself is a way to fuel your ambition. Goal setting isn’t just about creating a plan for your life and holding yourself accountable, it’s also about giving us the inspiration necessary to aim for things we never thought possible.
Do you want to accomplish something that many people dream about, but few people ever actually accomplish?
Unless you make it a goal for yourself and work every day towards achieving it, why would you ever believe that you could accomplish it?
Unless you see yourself slowly making progress, your dreams and aspirations are nothing more than vague stuff wandering around in your imagination.
Goals Help Us Live to the Fullest
Imagine you’re on a vacation. You have a limited amount of time to take in all the sights, sounds, and experiences of a foreign land. Wouldn’t you want to figure out exactly what you want to do and what you want to see?
Or would you wander around, hoping to find something interesting? And if you do have some sights in mind that you want to visit, wouldn’t you do a little research to find out how to get there?
Or would you wander around, hoping that you’ll eventually find the place you’re looking for?
In many ways, life is like a vacation (though it certainly doesn’t feel like it). We’re given a finite amount of time to pursue the experiences we want and then before you know it, it’s time to go. If you want to get the most out of your precious moments of life, you have to know what you want.
Goals tell us what we really want
There are certainly times where we set goals that don’t really reflect what we want. Sometimes we think we need more money when really we need a change of environment or someone to love. We think we want more free time, but what we really want is work that we can be truly passionate about. Sometimes we think we want to be alone, but really we need to be around more positive people.
If you never set goals in the first place, how do you find out what you truly want? If you go through life with vague notions of “success” and “accomplishment”, you might never discover that buying a new BMW isn’t what will bring you true happiness or fancy title won’t make up for the reduced time with your family.
By asking ourselves what we really want and constantly re-assessing our goals, we gain the benefit of introspection and self-reflection. We can figure out what it is we really want in life – and then we can go out and do it.
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