There are not many things you will care about that you can achieve by default.
Therefore, the necessity of goal setting. Strategic goals are usually for a long time. Their definition relies on your standards, ethics, preferences and resources. The path to them and even the goal itself are not usually clear, so the method of reaching them is process driven. If you are 15 and want to be a plastic surgeon in order to help children who have been burned, the process is go to school and work hard. If you ignore that process there is no event or or other process that will permit completion.
An advantage of goal setting is that it helps you identify the “must do” part.
The master goal or goals will break down into sub goals. Manage these in the shorter term. Some people are better at short term management than others. The skilled one should do that. In a family, maybe the wife is better at budgets and bills and cash flow management, while husband shares vision and resource building. You need to work it out. Good visionaries are frequently poor administrators.
The devastating problem is what if you get what you want. Then what?
People are goal-seeking machines. They are good at it and derive satisfaction from achievement. They become troubled when they have no goal. Previous achievement is not enough. It is worse still if their success is greater than the person could have reasonably expected in the beginning. I doubt it is a coincidence that drug use among musical phenomenons and some other entertainers is near epidemic proportions. If you are a huge and wealthy celebrity at 22, what is Act II?
Charlie Sheen has said, “There is advice for people who at first do not succeed. What do you do, if at first you do succeed?”
There is an answer to his query. Have another goal. One that you don’t know if you can achieve. One that uses all of your skills and some you do not yet have. One that you can work at while continuing with the success you have earned. You normally want this to work like a staircase. Rise up, then level out while you build the tools to achieve the next goal. The rise up again. It is sometimes necessary to go to a new staircase, but not often. Be sure your staircase goes forever. “Stairway To Heaven” comes to mind
Achieving can be ruinous unless it attaches to another goal. I recall a computer game from the 1980’s called LodeRunner. Simplistic by today’s standard but challenging enough at the time. As it turns out, it had 150 levels. After level 150, it started over at level 1. That made the achievement meaningless and caused the disk to be thrown away. There was nowhere to go next.
Failure is a possibility. Failure is the price of education. The most successful people I know have a huge investment in their education and none of it involved writing checks to colleges or universities. Experience is the best teacher and for the price it damned well better be.
How to gain useful experience is the question. I sometimes wonder if today’s infinitely complex games teach more about goal setting, skill building and achievement than we suspect. Perhaps those skills carry over to life.
Think about it before discouraging all forms of gaming.
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Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international public accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org