It was April 20, 2014. I was riding the train back to Penn Station from New Jersey, where I spent the day with some family for the Easter holiday. I looked up at the digital monitor in the front of the train car as it reads, “NEXT STATION”. Having seen this triggers this feeling of anxiety within a millisecond as I thought, “What is it?! What is the next station?!” I began to ask myself, “Where is my next station? Where do I go from here?” At times, it is vital that one ponders the ultimately intimidating life question: What are my goals in life?
It is easy to get caught up in the stresses of life. It is also easy for people to lose sight of goals which they set forth. One of the primary reasons that this occurs is that most people do not document their goals. They merely think of them, or verbally communicate them to other people. I am 29 years old on the day I publish this article, and I did not begin to document my goals until recently. I wish I could go back in time and do this, as most wish for the same; however, we can never go back. We can only move forward with what we now know.
For you younger folks reading this article, I can assure you that money does not provide happiness. Money can provide a relief to certain liabilities and stress, but it cannot be the origin of where your happiness is derived. Decide on what you need to be happy. Do not focus on attaining wealth as the main driver in achieving any goal, or more importantly do not make attaining wealth your only goal. The individuals who believe that you can attain wealth without trading off other things in life that can provide happiness are fools. Follow your heart, but lead with your mind. Ask yourself these questions in determining how you will achieve your goals:
1. What is your goal? This sounds simple, but can often be the most difficult question to answer, especially for younger people who are fearful of the future.
2. When do you want to achieve your goal? Try to set a realistic expectation regarding the timeline of which you want to remain within in pursuing your goal. Life is unpredictable most of the time, so be reasonable when evaluating this question.
3. How will you prepare to achieve your goal? This question is crucial. It pertains more to the now than in the future. What are you doing today to work toward your goal? It is all about the system. After determining your system, live by it. Do not deviate from the system.
4. How will you reward yourself after achieving your goal? This is something else that most people struggle with. Many people lower their own expectations just to enjoy the reward. Personally, when I achieve a goal, my reward is getting to set another goal! To make things easier, it usually is good to have a set of sub-goals within your ultimate goal. After all, the only way to go up a staircase is to touch the first few steps at the bottom first.
What is the next station? Ask yourself this question often. The majority of successful people in any field achieve greatness because they make decisions based on criteria they have set forth in evaluating and achieving their goals. Will you always achieve your goal if you document your goal and develop a system in achieving your goal? No. Will you be more likely to achieve your goal if you document your goal and develop a system in achieving your goal? Yes. What are you doing today that will help you work towards achieving your goal?