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Setting your goals

By Binayak Datta
Last month I wrote it is of primary importance for you to dream, and to be able to recollect those dreams.
In a way we dream what we most strongly want. So if you want to achieve you must first be able to dream that you achieved – to bring “achievement” a tangible – touchable shape – that’s appropriate for you and only for you!
I dream – I want to be “successful” – is no dream. As I said nobody dreams something which could be as abstract as that. To be “successful” you have to want to be successful.
I dream – I am the head of a large office, a large company, a large institution, people taking instructions from me, people coming to me for advice, I am speaking at a big meeting, I get down from a big car, etc, etc, often imputed from either stories we read, or films we saw or simply from something we heard from friends – but inwardly touched upon our imaginations. That’s a cognitive dream.
Your dream gives rise to your vision, your target of yourself in life – or may even be something which you know you may not ever achieve – but somewhere in which direction you would want to go.
“I want to lead a big company in 20 years from now!” is a vision which may have been carved out from the dream you saw described above. This is cognitive, clear, tangible and which you can pursue.
In the words of Helen Keller, “The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight but no vision.”
So our first task is to reiterate our vision. And go on reiterating it, remembering it through our life; that’s something which cannot change nor correct itself; the dye once cast is cast forever.
I ask my students often what do you dream of, and as I said, the answer nearly always comes “I want to be successful..”(a majority), “I want to be happy”..a good number!! One young girl rose and she said I want to be the best orator in Goa!
That’s what i meant is a cognitive dream. But yet it still is not a vision, it becomes a vision once you give it a tangible shape, for example a leading counsel, a big academic or a management consultant, the leader of the opposition, and so on.
We need not all dream of the same thing for example we all need not be managers, some of us may even want to achieve in fields like say sports or art or say music, the only thing that should be remembered is vision should not point out to a hobby, it should point towards your strengths, your basics.
The difference between a hobby and your strength is that in a hobby you need not crave to be successful. In strength you see success.
Once you are sure of your vision do not leave it at that. Your next step is to fix up a goal, a set of goals – that will lead you to your vision.
For example, if your vision is that you will lead a large company in 20 years you will have to work the arithmetic out, how to make that happen?
Fix up a goal for say 10 years, the next for five years thereafter and finally the achievement of the vision around the 20th year.
Now go back to your vision – if that is to lead a large corporate in 20 years, first you have to target being the head of operations (CXO) say after 15 years.
To be the head of operations in 15 years, you may calculate, I want to be the head of say manufacturing or head of services, or say head of rooms or say head of F&B in 10 years.
Your arithmetic, logic, information and stretch – these 4 things have necessarily to be in place. Otherwise you run the risk of walking towards the business of making and selling dreams. That’s not our idea.
Your goals have to be:
i. Specific
ii. Measurable
iii. Achievable with stretch
iv. Realistic
v. In a time scale
vi. In a field where you have:
1. Talent or
2. Strength
a) Knowledge
b) Skills
In my example you saw – to be
– Functional head in 1o years
– CXO in 5 years thereafter
– CEO in 5 years thereafter
This is specific, measurable – at the end of each period, it is achievable with your background – you have of course to have the strengths (knowledge and skill sets to do this, we discuss how – next day), Realistic – that’s what so many of others have actually done and finally measures up to a given time scale!!
Show me one thing I said which is really tough – get down to think of it – it’s all there actually in your own hands. It looks great and “selling a dream” – but get down to it today….you realise it is only you!!
The first step is the one which is the toughest – once you take that the rest is easy.
I read somewhere Louisa M Alcott writing…”Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead!”
(The author is former CFO of the Zuari Agro Group and currently engages with youngsters at leading Institutes and colleges at Goa, Kota and Pune as member of visiting and guest faculty.)

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