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Goal setting for life is important. Without having a well-defined goal, we cannot be successful. Our parents, teachers, and well-wishers always remind us to have a goal in life. “A life without a goal is like a ship without a rudder in the sea”, they always say.

Up to that point, they are right. They should let us understand the value of goal setting in life and allow us to chart our own missions of life. But they won’t leave us. They would then tell us what to become and how to become “that”. So our entire regiment of guardians and well-wishers would spend hours telling us how to reach our goals.

“You should choose ‘Science’ as your stream from standard 9. There’s no future for Arts or Commerce students” – told my dad’s friend.

“You must study well to score high in your school leaving examination, otherwise you won’t get admission to any decent college” - my parents warned me.

“You should not go for employment in the private sector. Government jobs may not pay better than the private sector. But they offer job security and good retirement benefits." - My maternal uncle told me when I joined a private company after my college.

And there I was..

Nobody ever asked me what “I” wanted. Since my childhood, the airplanes used to attract me. Those amazing machines used to glide like birds in the sky, carrying people, to faraway places. Each time I saw those, I wished I could fly in an airplane. Later I discovered, my love was not airplanes. But my wanderlust–the strong desire to travel and see new places, was driving my desire. It was the freedom associated with travel that was pulling me.

See this picture. I achieved my goal of finding a “decent” job with a decent salary. I was working for a British multinational company in India as a technical supervisor. It was the lowest rung of their management hierarchy. I got married, had a lovely baby, my son. Life would have been nice, had my “wanderlust” infected soul remained silent.

From Goal setting to the Theme setting

After 7 years of working in the factory, I could realize that if I continued with this job, I would settle in my life. But that would also mean, I won’t be able to see around the world ever, the way I wanted, in this lifetime. I shared my mind with my wife. I didn’t expect her to allow me to rock the family boat, but she understood and gave me her permission to change course. I’m thankful to her for her understanding and support.

After weeks of thinking over, the direction became little clear. The best career for me would be in the marketing of textiles. There was a challenge. I did not understand marketing, let alone having specialized knowledge of sales and marketing of textiles.

I looked at my goal again. This time, it was not one goal, but a basket of goals, that I called a ‘Theme’, instead of a single Goal. My desired life theme looked like this:

  1. Join a large textile company in their front-line sales team. Take a pay cut if needed
  2. Work hard and learn their marketing process
  3. Increase network in the textile industry in India
  4. Learn outsourcing and textile export procedures
  5. Learn how international marketing of textiles and apparels works
  6. Join a textile export company in India and spearhead their overseas business
  7. Show the world to the family members
  8. Let my son have his own theme of life. Not to force our own opinions on him
  9. Gather deep knowledge about businesses from the view of CEOs and owners

I took the leap. Joined as an Area Sales Representative with another large textile company in India. It offered a lower salary than what I was earning. But I liked the role. I could travel and visit the markets. The company had a good training system for its sales teams. I absorbed every lesson their training sessions provided.

I moved out of India and worked overseas for 5 years in two international garment manufacturing companies. After returning to India, one of my ex-employers offered me a role in export sales management. I had an opportunity to spearhead the company's entire international sales and marketing of apparel fabric. I accepted the position.

Life's not like a fairy tale. Their company headquarters in England decided to close the textile fabric business after four years of my joining. They decided to focus only on their core business of sewing thread. I had no interest in moving to the sewing thread industry, so I had to move on.

In life, not all things are under our control. That's my experience. Everything is moving all the time. But that is why I see life as exciting. It never ceases to surprise us. The only thing we have control is making a decision at each stage. It did not take me much time to find another job with a textile fabric manufacturing company.

By that time, I had traveled around 26 countries. I had a deep knowledge about the textile and garment businesses worldwide. In the next 10 years, I worked for a few more Indian textile companies in senior management positions. The going was not smooth all the way, but each turn of events gave me new knowledge, new wisdom.

I wanted to share with you, my real life experience about Goal Setting. You might have noticed, I had to change my immediate goals at different points in my life. My purpose was to work towards fulfilling my theme, not the wishes of others. It was not a linear journey at all..

Nothing stays at one place – everything is changing.

When planning, people often ignore that the world is a dynamic entity.

What worked last year may not work today. Computer programmers or website designers are in demand. Soon, those bits of knowledge will be obsolete. Driverless vehicles will replace today’s vehicles soon. We know that going after any single goal may not give us the success we desire in the long run.

Is there any better way to plan the future?

I can’t see the future. But I can see the trends. I also know what I want. If I blend what I want with the trends, then I can plan better. Creating a life that would fulfill my desire and make me more fulfilled and happy is important. Earning a lot of money by sacrificing health or family life and becoming sick and old can't be a wise idea. Are there ways to eat the cake of life and have it, too? Life is not something as simple as a cake. So enjoying it when I’m alive, and not regret it before I die, is possible. In fact, that is the only way to be successful and happy at the same time.

But how can you set the goal of life by mixing it with the trends?

Introspect. Your inner self, what we call intuition, is much wiser than you may think. What do you want from the bottom of your soul? A happy family, own house, a couple of real estates, seeing the world, going for an ocean cruise once a year, some passive incomes that can take care of your future needs well enough after you retire, having great health and adequate health insurance for your family and parents? This is not a single goal, but a bouquet of goals covering various areas of life. I call it a THEME of life. Sounds a tall order? It’s not if you stop having a tunnel vision towards only money and fail to have a larger outlook. Money is very important. But there are smarter ways to create money than working your backside off all the time and forget that you have a right to enjoy life as well.

Extra income can make things faster to create your theme of life.

As a starter, your expenses are in several accounts. Why should you have only one stream of income? Ask yourself to find an answer.

Can you see the trend?  In the future, the employment market will favor people having skills in very high technologies only. Your current skills may be obsolete soon unless you upgrade yourself fast enough. You may not be willing or capable to change yourself beyond a limit. But you can keep your eyes open to take the right decisions at the right time.

To have more than one stream of income, you should be open to earn side incomes besides your main job. You can work part-time in the beginning, working on a business that solves critical problems of people. The more acute the problem is, the more will be your chance of success.  Such a business can easily replace your income of a full-time job within a matter of 2 to 3 years.

Invest money in businesses of the future. Investing in traditional term deposits in banks, endowment based investments in life insurance, postal saving etc. can earn some money for you, but those would be a meager pension-like income.  Some of the businesses to look at today are Cancer diagnostics; high-tech educational institutions; 5G or 6G telecommunication companies; pharmaceutical companies producing medicines for HIV, cancer, infertility, Nano-chemicals to treat diseases. The list is endless.

Don’t run after every shiny object. Become better every day in what you are doing today. You need to be better than others in any one field. Invest in yourself. Brand yourself on that single field and you can use that knowledge in your part-time business. Use digital marketing to promote yourself as an authority in your field. Having an excellent brand image of authority is the new age boon that can bring abundance.

Take care of your health. You may be working 80 hours a week but keep only 3 to 4 hours every week for physical exercise. That will need some willpower, but if the ‘theme’ is always in front of you, that will help you overcome procrastination. I had been a master of procrastination once. So I know that a desire to change myself can overcome it. Look at yourself in the mirror every day and see the change. It’s a great inspiration to stay on course.

Before coming to the end of today’s post, here is a recap of what I shared to help you achieve a life of fulfillment and happiness.

  1. Don’t go after a single point agenda of making money.
  2. Know yourself and your inner voice.
  3. Chalk out a map of how you wish to see yourself 5 years, 10 years and 30 years in future.
  4. Draw an action plan to work toward a theme of life that you desire.
  5. Move towards it but remain flexible to change course.
  6. Your goals will change but take care not to lose sight of the theme.
  7. Once you feel you’ve reasonably achieved it, don’t stop. Enrich it every day. A static life is boring. Renew and re-invent yourself every day.
  8. Last but not least, think about others and their problems that you can solve.

Remember a famous quotation by the legendary marketing expert, Zig Ziglar

“If you can give enough people what they want, you will get what you want”

Wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Very Happy 2019.

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