Self Goal Setting

Find direction. Live your life your way

The difference between a goal
and a dream is the written word.
-Gene Donohue

When we talk to many candidates and ask what you want to become? Or which fields do you like? Or what you want to do in another 5 years? 95% of the people don't have any answer to this question. Moreover many people are surprised and ask, do I have to know? Is it required? Is it possible? Many of them say, I am working as a software engineer because my uncle put me in B.E. computer science and asked me to do this. If you lead such a life, you will get bored soon. Nothing will make you happy unless you set your plan and milestone and try to reach that.

You will not be happy by seeing the number of cars going on the road, but you will be extremely happy if you buy a car on your own with your own planning, own effort and own money. This is not because the money or bike got so much value, it is because you have made a plan and achieved it. The same car may not give so much value and worth to your brother/sister within your family. Some people have a goal but they don't have a plan to achieve that goal. Hope this document will guide you to set your goal and plan to achieve that goal.

The process of setting goals help you choose where you want to go in your life. By knowing exactly what you want to achieve, you know where you have to concentrate your efforts. You'll also quickly identify the distractions that can be fixed to reach your goal.

Also, properly set goals are the best motivators to achieve excellence in personal and professional life. As you get into the habit of setting and achieving goals, you'll find that your self-confidence is also increasing and you are able to target higher achievements.

What is Goal?

Assume that you have to drive from Chennai to Bangalore. This is the goal. What are the things that you should know?

  • The Bangalore address where you want to go
  • Route map/direction from Chennai to Bangalore

This is the process or plan to achieve the goal.

If you don't know where you want to go but you started driving on the road, imagine what will happen to your travel. This is the way most people lead the life. There are some of them who know they want to go to Bangalore, but they don't have map/route or address to reach there. Goal can be defined as:

"It is a well written, visualized, step by step procedure to reach where you want to be".

Goals are set on a number of different levels. First you decide what you want to do with your life. Second, you break these down into smaller and smaller targets that you must achieve, so that you reach your lifetime goals. Finally, once you have your plan, you start working to achieve it.

By setting sharp, clearly defined goals, you can measure and take pride in the achievement of those goals. You can see forward progress each year and get better clarity on your goal.

In our childhood our relative/neighbors will ask that what we would want to be? Most of us would say that we want to become a doctor, an engineer, a collector, etc. But this is not a goal; it is a dream or dictated by our parents. It does not have any background thought whether you really want it.

But, when you grow and mature you start to understand the realities of life and also understand your interests and your talents. You also start having the desire to achieve certain things in life and these desires are mostly based on your interests and talents. This is the time when you start life. If you take life as a journey, you should know the destination and travel map to reach that destination. Unless you have a destination in mind, you can't catch a bus that you want to travel. Without goal in life, it will become like catching a bus without knowing where you want to go.

Goals can be of different types. Below are some of the goals that people set for themselves.

I want to become a Writer.
I want to become a Scientist and do research in nano technology.
I want to become a Professor.
I want to become to Businessman.
I want to become a Doctor and serve the rural population.
I want to start a school for the rural children.
I want to become a Pilot.

It is unfortunate that most people do not have any plans for their life. They live life as it comes. Sometimes this is through no fault of theirs. A lot of times they don't get any guidance on how to choose the goal for their life and end up doing routine tasks that everyone around them are also doing.

Some of the routine tasks that most people end up doing are:

  • Study hard to pass X and XII STD
  • Apply for all colleges like physics, chemistry, maths and commerce
  • Whatever seat I get take it and study hard
  • Pass the degree with first class
  • Study masters on the same field or try to get into job which is not of your interest.
  • After 27 years we will get pressure from family to get married
  • Get married and settle with regular life style like going to movie, attending functions etc.

One of the main problems of not having a goal is to allow other people like, parents, relatives, and society to drive your life. In the end you become what other people want you to be instead of what you would have liked to be. So very often do we hear people complain that they studied a subject or chose a career because someone asked them to do so and not because they themselves wanted it. The only way to avoid such a situation in life is to set a goal and choose the education based on your interest.

I did some mistake in choosing the right education. Can I still reach my goal?

Yes. Suppose you wanted to study computer science and travel across the world but ended up studying B.Com due to family or other social pressures, you can still hope to make a career in IT.

What you need to do is, get an MCA degree, full-time or part-time, and then apply for a job in IT.

Full-time education is better as you are able to complete your education in a shorter time and it gives you the additional advantage of attending campus interviews in your final year.

However, if you are not able to attend full-time classes, you can always attend part-time classes or even get the necessary degree through distance education. Distance education or part-time mode helps you to gain work experience as you learn. This is really advantageous as a lot of companies will recruit experienced people only. However, in this mode you usually have to find the jobs yourself, as most colleges perform campus placement for full-time candidates only.

So, if you know what you want to become, you can always find ways and means to reach your goal. You may have to take some short cut or U turn to reach your goal.

Are the Goal and Career one and the same?

Not always. They can be same, they can be different and they can be related but not the same.

An example where "Career and Goal are same"

Goal: To become doctor and serve the rural population.
Career: You studied science in high school, scored good marks in the medical entrance examination and secured a seat in a medical college. Once you gain experience as a doctor you can start your practice in rural area and fulfill your goal.

An example when "Career is related to Goal"

Goal: I want to start my own school for the rural children.
Career: After completing your master�s degree (MA or M.Sc.) you get a B.Ed. or M.Ed. degree, and join some school as a teacher (This career is not your goal but it is related to your goal). You have to gain experience and knowledge of what a school system is like, how to handle the staff, how to teach, and other aspects of running a school. After gaining sufficient experience you will gain confident to start your own school. At this point you can either open a new school or you can look for the school that you can buy and apply your education and thoughts instead of starting from the beginning.

An example where "Career and Goal are different"

Goal: I want to become a good singer.
Career: In my family everyone is well settled and I was put in C.A. and asked to practice as charted accountant which will be helpful when I go to USA to become the CPA. Here your goal and career are totally different.

Things to remember when you choose your goal:

  • Be practical
  • Do you like/love that field?
  • Can the goal have any professional activities that can bring some income?
  • Can the income support your life and your family?
  • Is the goal having any social values?
  • Is the goal aligned with your personal values?
  • If your goal doesn�t fetch any money, how are you going to lead life? Have youidentified any alternate way to satisfy your financial need?

Your Lifetime Goals

"Your goals need to be complete and focused, much like a road map" Sample Goal Chart:

The first step in setting personal goals is to consider what you want to achieve in your lifetime, as setting lifetime goals gives you the overall perspective that shapes all other aspects of your decision making. To give a broad, balanced coverage of all important areas in your life, try to set goals in some of these categories (or in categories of your own, where these are important to you):

Goal Type

Goal Meaning



Is any part of your mindset holding you back? Is there any way you behave that upsets you? If so, set a goal to improve your behavior or find a solution to the problem.

Assume your goal is to become a successful leader, what are the leadership attitudes you want to adopt for yourself?I want to reduce my anger and talk to everyone nicely but firmly if required.


What position do you want to achieve in your career?

I would like to work as a Chief Architect of the database division in Microsoft.


What educational qualification would you like to achieve?

I want to get a PhD. degree in Computer Science from IIT Kharagpur.


Do you want to be a parent? If so, how are you going to be a good parent? How do you want to be seen by your partner or by members of your extended family?

I want to get married in 2010. I want to marry an educated person who will support my family and other goals.


How much do you want to earn by what stage?

I want to have 1 individual house in chennai, 1 car, 2 lakhs cash in the bank.


Are there any athletic goals you want to achieve, or do you want good health deep into old age? What steps are you going to take to achieve this?

I want to maintain my weight and do regular yoga. Live happily without any medication. Eat only organic food.


How do you want to enjoy yourself? - You should ensure that some of your life is for you!

Travel to Scenic places and mountains in India and spend 15 days a year for personal trip.  I want to travel to Australia, UK, USA and Singapore and spend at least a month in all these countries and visit beautiful scenic places.

Public Service

Do you want to make the world a better place by your existence? If so, how?

I want to help at least 10 rural students to get job and settle in life. I would request them to adopt their villages to get all the basic needs for their village.

Once you have decided your goals in these categories, assign a priority to them from A to F. Then review the goals and re-prioritize until you are satisfied that they reflect the shape of the life that you want to lead. Also ensure that the goals that you have set are the goals that you want to achieve, not what your parents, spouse, family, or employers want them to be.

7 goal setting steps:

If you follow the following 7 goal setting steps you will be on your way to becoming an expert in building the road maps to your goals. Below are the guidelines for setting your goals.

1. Make sure the goal you are working for is something you really want, not just something that sounds good.

While setting the goal you should verify that your goal is really what you want. It is not based on my relative or friend�s idea that it would be good if I become like that. When setting goals it is very important to remember that your goals must be consistent with your values.
When setting goals it is very important to remember that your goals must be consistent with your values.

2. A goal cannot contradict any of your other goals.

For example, you can't buy a house for say Rs 5 crores if your income goal is only Rs.10 lacs a year. This is called non-integrated thinking and it will waste all the hard work you put into your goals. Non-integrated thinking can also hamper your everyday thoughts. We should continually review to eliminate contradictory ideas from our thinking.

3. Develop goals in the 6 major areas of life:

Family and Home               Financial and Career
Spiritual and Ethical           Physical and Health
Social and Cultural             Mental and Educational
Setting goals in each area of life will ensure a more balanced life as you begin to examine and change the fundamentals of everyday living. Setting goals in each area of life also helps in eliminating the non-integrated thinking we talked about in the 2nd step.

4.Write your goal in the positive instead of the negative.

Work for what you want, not for what you want to leave behind. Part of the reason why we write down and examine our goals is to create a set of instructions for our subconscious mind to carry out. Your subconscious mind is a very efficient tool, it cannot determine right from wrong and it does not judge. It's only function is to carry out its instructions. The more positive instructions you give it, the more positive results you will get.

Thinking positively in everyday life will also help in your growth as a human being. Don't limit it to goal setting. For example: you should not write �I don�t want to become a dentist, I want to become general doctor� Just write only positive sentence like �I want to become general doctor�

5. Write your goal out in complete detail.

Instead of writing "A new home," write "A 4,000 square foot house with 4 bedrooms and 3 baths and a view of the west side. Once again we are giving the subconscious mind a detailed set of instructions to work on. The more information you give it, the more clear the final outcome becomes. The more precise the outcome, the more efficient the subconscious mind can become. Can you close your eyes and visualize the home described above? Walk around the house. Stand on the porch off the master bedroom and see vehicles that go on the road. Look down at the garden full of tomatoes, green beans and cucumbers. And off to the right is the other garden full of colorful plants trees. Can you see it? So can your subconscious mind.

Remember, Dr. Abdul Kalam always asked his students to dream. If you read his book you can see how he planned his life. Many of the successful business people, and successful people in other fields have learned from his books on how to set goal and how to make your subconscious mind which in turn give instruction to your conscious mind on daily life to achieve the success.

6. By all means, make sure your goal is high enough.

Shoot for the moon; if you miss you'll still be in the stars. Some of you might be saying that I'm not setting my goals high enough.
While setting a goal don�t think about what is possible today. So, set goal like you want to work as a CEO of a company where minimum 1000 people work for me.

If you never make it, everything you do to reach that goal will make you better. So, shoot for the moon!

7. The most important thing is to write down your goals and read them everyday

Writing down your goals creates the roadmap to your success. Although just the act of writing them down can set the process in motion, it is also extremely important to review your goals frequently. Remember, the more focused you are on your goals the more likely you are to accomplish them.

Sometimes we realize we have to revise a goal as circumstances and other goals change. If you need to change a goal do not consider it a failure, consider it a victory as you had the insight to realize something was different. Display a goal in your personal room, personal place where no one see it.

So your goals are written down.

Now what?

First of all, unless someone is critical to helping you achieve your goal(s) do not freely share your goals with others. The negative attitude from friends, family and neighbors can drag you down quickly. It's very important that you self-talk (the thoughts in your head) are positive.

Reviewing your goals daily is a crucial part of your success and must become part of your routine. Each morning when you wake up read your list of goals that are written in the positive. Visualize the completed goal, see the new home, smell the leather seats in your new car, feel the cold hard cash in your hands. Then each night, right before you go to bed, repeat the process. This process will start both your subconscious and conscious mind on working towards the goal. This will also begin to replace any of the negative self-talk you may have and replace it with positive self-talk.

Every time you make a decision during the day, ask yourself this question, "Does it take me closer to, or further from my goal. If the answer is "closer to," then you've made the right decision. If the answer is "further from," well, you know what to do. If you follow this process everyday you will be on your way to achieving unlimited success in every aspect of your life.