"Balance is a myth - Set goals one at a time."
"You can have all. Just not all at the same time. Balance is a myth" - I came across this thought-provoking quote sometime back and it really made me delve deeper. Think about it, we all have a list of resolutions but how many of them do we achieve. In most cases, none! Why? Because if we are going to put our 100% energy in accomplishing all at the same time, we are going to end up feeling fatigued and overwhelmed. Our mind is going to feel cluttered and in all practicality, we just have 24 hours to work on all of them everyday. And more so, we just have 100% to give. So now, if we have 5 different goals, either we give just 20% of our dedication to each one. And be prepared as 20% of effort is only going to fetch us a result of 20%. Is that what we aspire? Or, we prioritize and take one or two goals at a time and work on them one-by-one.
Taking things one at a time also took me back to our ancient wisdom of Hinduism - the four stages (or popularly called "Ashrams") of our lives - Brahmcharya (student life), Grihastha (household), Vanprastha (retired) and Sannyasa (renunciate). Now what does this mean? It means that even according to this, we dedicate our energy on one area of life at a time. So, in student life we have all the time to stimulate our mind, our health and our career, in Grihastha we focus on our personal, finances and family, while in Vanprastha we start getting into spirituality and by Sannyasa we are ready to live a detached and peaceful life. But we also understand the age we are living in, our lifestyle has become all-encompassing blurring the lines altogether. The best way to address it is to give whatever it takes to one goal, get comfortable with it, weave it as our habit into our daily routine and master it so, by the time we move to our second one, the former one is already a part of your lifestyle effortlessly and it is carried forward with minimal effort. But if we try to make several habits all at the same time, be assured we are not going to get productive in even single one.
Now the question is how to know which goal to focus first? Every goal is related to some area of our life. How many areas are there in our lives? Lets break it down - Personal (self-growth), Career & Finances, Relationships (friendships, romantic and family), Spiritual and Health. Now lets see which area of our life we are feeling the most pain in and how do we do that? You remember those emoji smileys we get for rating an experience - that goes from worse, bad, average to good and excellent. However we are feeling in a particular area of life, rate that with these ones. After this, conclude which one has got the worst rating - that's the one we need to work on the most. After this, define a goal for it which will take you from worst to at least good - that's how we even learn how to set goals (other than a whole lot of other factors which we will discuss in following articles). Specify and break it down what do we need to have to make that area good or excellent. Its like Perceptual Mapping we do in marketing - to understand where we are right now and where we are willing to reach on the basis of given factors.
Once we have identified which area to work on and listed a specific detailed goal, let's work backwards. If it's a cakewalk for you, which happens rarely, then you the lucky one. But if not, then let's prepare ourselves for all the setbacks we think we can encounter. That's the beauty of it - once we have finalized the destination and the route, we also have to understand the possible potholes so we are ready with plan Bs or a revised goal. Our potential lies in difficulties - either it leaves us with a lesson or it gives us a new direction. So, learn to embrace challenges; it only evolves us for better. I hope this article is able to put in a bit of perspective to the way we set our goals. It's not the only way to do it but one of the many easier ways to actually look at it. Drop in a comment if you like the article or even if you have any feedback to share. Would love to hear from you on this.