Goals Setting

How often do you ask yourself “Am I working on the right things”?

One of the things I keep asking myself increasingly is “Am I working on the right things”?

Usually these “things: are “goals” which I set for the year, or “initiatives” for the quarter, “projects” for a month or so, “plans” for the week, or “tasks” I do daily.

That’s a framework most people follow: Goals – Initiatives – Projects – Plans – Tasks.

Lately, though, I am asking the “am I working on the right things” when things refers to “goals”.

The first reason is as the world around me has gone more “on demand”, faster and “instant gratification” based, I realize I cannot cling on to the older frameworks I have.

The second reason is that I increasingly am finding many things that I desired to have, once I get them, I realize, are not as important, as fun or as attractive as I thought they would be.

The final reason is there are always more things to do than those that you can do. Which brings me back to “Am I working on the right things”?

So I ask the question – “How did I come up with those things that I wanted in the first place”?

There were 3 ways:

First, I copied them from someone I saw / admire / respect, and say to myself – that would be cool to emulate, not realizing the context for why they chose to get there. For example, I have admired Neil Patel’s ability over the years and the effort and time to build a personal brand and followed that as “something I should do”.

So, like him, I spent more time creating content – not as good, not as effective and not as high quality. The difference in the results is stark – but not only because of the quality of the content.

After having built 1/15 of the brand (or some other smaller fraction) he is, I realized that’s not as important to me as it was to him.

The second way I came up with those “things”, was to think in a vacuum. Long plane rides are usually good for these. When I got on a cross-continental trip I’d always carry a good plain notebook and a book to read. When I was done reading a 10th of the book, I’d get these ideas and goals based on maybe one sentence from the book and run to come up with a manifesto for myself – which I’d keep for a few months or weeks. Until the next long plane ride.

The third way I’d come up with these “goals” was drawing inspiration from other things – a movie, a story I heard, a startup I read about and say that would be good for me to do. My inspiration to “lose weight” was drawn from an arbitrary discussion with a friend, then noticing my sister using MyFitnessPal and finally an annual checkup that revealed nothing but the fact that my BMI was on the “higher side of normal”. Not high, mind you. Just higher side of normal.

If all these 3 are arbitrary and not very well thought out, then welcome to my world. Or as they say in India – “I am like that only”.

I am curious as to how other people come up their list of things to do – not in life or in general terms, but more over 2-3 year. As a goal for example.

What technique am I missing?

3 thoughts on “How often do you ask yourself “Am I working on the right things”?”

  1. Meditation? I know you do this. Some of my very best ideas have come during or right after meditation sessions. How to solve a client problem around their launch , what are the right things to be working on, etc. Maybe that’s your plane ride time for you?

    Very good question to be asking!

  2. Spot on! The three ways you mentioned are just so broad that they cover almost every way possible from which you get these ideas. I can relate to all the three ways.

    There is so much noise around us due to information overload that we tend to lose sight of what’s right/relevant to us. In other words, we very much get carried away, and start focusing our energies on some goals which are just not relevant many times.

    As an entrepreneur, along with the question ‘Am I working on the right things’, you should also ask ‘is he working on the right thing’ for each of your colleague.

    Thank you for this. Another awesome read.


  3. I usually set my goals based on Rule 1: What is the best possible position I can achieve a field of work and Rule 2: Deciding whether it aligns with my own areas of interest, values etc. What makes it interesting for me about this mundane process is Rule 3: Be open for challenges and opportunities… Because most of the times you don’t know what you are capable of, until you try it. These unwritten rules have been serving me very well 🙂

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