The life of a common man goes through a standard sequence of goals defined by age.
Be a good student, get into a renowned college, find a high paying job, get married, buy a house, have kids, and raise them to follow the same cycle.
Do you genuinely enjoy pursuing such goals, or are you caught in the norm? Countless people have lost motivation trying to adhere to such a standard defined by society. If you follow the same trend against your choice, you will end up with a life of frustration and regret.
Have you asked yourself if the standard cycle of life makes you happy? If you haven’t, your entire life can turn into decades of chasing goals you care little about. To make that worse, you won’t experience contentment even if you manage to achieve all your targets.
It’s time you did some soul searching for your happiness.
Why should you define your measure of success?
The typical goal cycle is a benchmark the society has imposed. It is not the worst approach to go about life, but not the best either. Just because another person follows the standard pattern of life, doesn’t mean you have to.
For example, orange is the most preferred flavor across the world among beverages. So if I told you to always pick orange juice even if you like pineapple, would you agree? Of course not. You’d find my logic absurd. But, unfortunately, that is what most people do with their goals. They sweat over goals chosen by the majority of the world.
But why should you let others determine the course of your life? You live once, and you must experience it to the fullest. You are the master of your own decisions and the captain of your own ship. So steer towards the direction you want to go to.
How to define your measurement of success
1. Start with the why
Identify what you would like to achieve in life. Not everyone wants to become an executive of a large organization or draw a fat paycheck. There is nothing wrong with finding solace in a job that pays lesser if it makes you happy.
Many people have found meaning in teaching, living amidst the woods, or traveling with a backpack. If a life of minimalism is your definition of contentment, feel free to strive for it.
If you’re a person who likes to balance a reasonable luxury and happiness, pick a profession that you’d enjoy working on every day. That said, it does not always have to be your passion which causes a fire in your belly.
As Cal Newport explains in his book, So Good They Cannot Ignore You, picking an area you do not mind spending time on is a great start. You will develop expertise and passion with time. Start with a goal such that you don’t have to dread every Monday.
2. Decide when
Set an approximate timeline for achieving your goal. Your estimate does not have to be precise to the dot. You’re not launching a satellite into the earth’s orbit, are you? Therefore, incorrect judgments won’t lead to dire consequences.
If you do not put a deadline to achieve your goal, you are more likely to keep procrastinating the required tasks. In the end, your dream remains just that – a dream. When you have a timeline with milestones, you’ll always know where you stand, how far you’re from the target, and what changes you need to make to get there.
3. Plan how
If your real goal is on a different trajectory from your current direction, you cannot succeed without making changes. For example, you’re working at a 9-5 job, but craving to start a business of your own.
To proceed in a new direction, you cannot throw your current situation behind you and make abrupt decisions to chase your dreams. Take a pill of patience and analyze how you can get here.
- What are the skills you need to learn?
- How can you make changes in your daily life to make the time?
- How can you manage the expenses during the transition period?
4. Prepare for obstacles
An optimistic mindset helps you stay positive and motivated. But, a smart person considers all possible angles, including obstacles and failures.
No matter how detailed your plan and how sublime your skills, you will hit roadblocks time and again. The journey to your destination isn’t decorated with a red carpet. Planning for obstacles helps you face them head-on when they occur in reality. If you’re unprepared, you will be caught by surprise and possibly fail to fight back.
Anticipating failures and hardships isn’t being pessimistic but instead being realistic. In the real world, that’s a thoughtful move.
5. Talk to other people who have done it before
No matter how confident you are about your abilities, take the time to engage with like-minded people who have chased the same goal you have in mind. Their real experience would have taught them what it really takes and what difficulties you might encounter. Also, people will be more than happy to share their genuine thoughts and lessons with you.
The internet can help you find and connect with such individuals just by using your phone. Websites like LinkedIn, Medium, Facebook, and Quora have all the information you need to spot them.
Going by your life on autopilot is like sitting idle on a boat moving through a flowing river. You have two choices. One, you can let the current take you wherever it likes. Second, you can grab the oar with both hands, row against the flow, and guide the boat in the direction you want to. Which option will you choose?
Maxim Dsouza has spent over a decade experimenting and finding various time management techniques to improve his productivity. He strongly understands the fact that time is a limited commodity and tries to make every second count. He has extensive experience in leadership in startups, small businesses, and large corporations.
He has helped people of different professions and age groups gain clarity on their goals, improve focus, revise their time management skills and develop an awareness of their psychological cognitive biases.