When I was growing up I read a lot of books on improving myself and the importance of having goals in life. I came to the conclusion that if I set goals and achieve them then I would be happy and fulfilled. People who I respected and the success literature I read all said that I would be happy when I achieve my goals. As a child it was when I passed certain exams or learned a new move in Kung Fu or Karate since I was passionate about martial arts in those days and mainly inspired by Bruce Lee. Until I achieved my goals I had to be serious and focused all the time on my goals. I did not allow myself to celebrate until I have achieved my goals. I also believed that if I worried about my goals enough then I was more likely to achieve them since I was focused mentally on them. I believed that happiness came after I reach my goal, however before that I have to strive, struggle, suffer and go through the pan barrier.
As a person I was considered relatively successful since I had achieved a lot of my goals. I set a hundred goals to achieve in 10 years and had only achieved 72 of them. I felt like a failure even though I was doing well in my career, finances, proud of my family and developed a whole range of new skills. People held me up as a role model in the community but I felt like a completed failure. It seemed illogical. It dawned on me that I was never ever going to be happy because as soon as I achieved a goals I would set another higher goal immediately. I set a goal to write 100 papers and as soon as I reached a 100 a set another goal of 200 and then 300 etc. I realised that goal setting was a never ending process and I should not be linking my happiness to achieving goals. As far as goals go I would never get them all done. There will always be more to aim at and achieve.
I had to shift my thinking. I had to start off with being happy and then work on my goals. I decided to create a state of happiness, joy and gratitude before I do something. Be happy first then focus and work my goals. Therefore, I will happily achieve instead of achieving to be happy.
I had a plan on how to approach my goals.
Before working on my goal
I decided to do one of the following things prior to working on my goals.
1. I visualised and really felt as if I had already achieved my goals. I would enjoy and celebrate achieving my goals.
2. I did deep breathing exercises and meditated for a few minutes before starting on the tasks required to get closer to the goal.
3. I repeated a positive affirmation several time regarding the goal I was working towards.
4. I listened to upbeat music that would get me in a good state of mind.
5. Write down 3 things I was most grateful for in my note book.
After working on my goal
I decided to reward myself after as well so my happiness was extended.
1. Reward myself in some way by having a cup of tea or a cold drink.
2. Go out for dinner with family or friends.
3. Buy something I wanted.
4. Feel great about myself and what I had done.
5. Watch a film or sports event.
About 5 years ago I wanted stretch myself and set a goal 10x bigger than I had ever before. I decided to write 20 pages a day of manuscript. Previously, my average had been 2 pages a day so 20 pages was an impossible goal but I reasoned even if I achieved anything more than 2 pages would make me feel like a success.
I decided to do the following things:
1. Keep my pen and writing book with me 24 hours a day.
2. Relax as much as possible during the process of writing.
3. Appreciate and really enjoy every letter that I would write.
4. Be grateful for every word or idea that came to mind.
5. Not judge anything I wrote.
6. The most important thing for me was to maintain a state of appreciation and happiness at every moment of the day.
After 10 days during this process I averaged about 17 1/2 pages a day. I felt an incredible sense of achievement and joy throughout. The period was the most joyful and productive of my career up to that point in time. My belief changed from “I need to achieve my goals to be truly happy” to I can happily and joyfully achieve anything.
This small shift in thinking has changed my life and prospective everything i decide to tackle in life. I still set challenging goals and achieve them but now I do it from a position of appreciation and joy.