There’s one interesting thing about goals that I’ve learned in my lifetime: I tend to achieve a massive majority them. Even outperform them. And guess what? Most people (even you) are probably experiencing the same thing.
You see, this is nothing special at all. I don’t consider myself a super intelligent person at all. In fact, the other day I got beaten at chess by an 8 year old. I’m not even trying to tell you something new.
Of course, I’m talking about goals for which the achievement is mostly in your own hands and that are actually, realistically achievable. If you want to win the lottery this year, or want to become president… things like that don’t fall in this category.
Some of my past goals
When I finished school, on a career level, I wanted to become a programmer. So I stuck my nose into programming, started building websites from scratch, did a lot of free work as well and a couple of years later I could say that I bacame a programmer.
Another goal I had during my uni years was to do a scholarship in Germany. I applied for that and was selected. I became an Erasmus student in Germany and I loved every day of it.
As an Erasmus student in Germany I was pretty short of money, so I had to find a job (goal:job). I found several little programming jobs that I enjoyed and made enough money to survive.
Was the UNI wasted time?
After university, once I started working as a programmer 9 to 5, I realised, I didn’t really like it and I switched to a different position that didn’t require a uni degree. So basically I went to uni for 6 years to have a job I didn’t like. If I had known I didn’t like programming before I started uni, I could have saved 6 years of my life (plus all the costs)!
How do you know you want something?
Let’s say, you’re really interested in a new smartphone that just came out. In this case the goal is to own that smartphone. Normally you can go to a store, play around with it, touch it and decide whether you still want it. Even better: order it online, try it for a few weeks, and if you don’t like it, send it back.
So, if you decide you don’t like it, you don’t lose anything. Just send it back, or don’t buy it in the first place. You thought you wanted it, but once you had it, you realised you didn’t really want it at all any more.
With more serious and time-intensive goals like a degree it’s not as easy. If, let’s say, you decide you want to become a lawyer, how do you find out whether you will actually like working as a lawyer? Probably the only way to find out is to do an internship in a lawyers’ office for a half a year or so. If you still love the idea of becoming a lawyer…well go and spend a few years at uni.
Funnily enough, the other day I spoke to a lawyer freind of mine. He recently took over the lawyers’ office he worked in. He took out a massive loan and he’s going to have to work for at least ten years to pay it back. He confessed to me that he really hates his job but has no chance of getting out of it and has no idea what else to do.
What scares me though, is that most people set their career goals without having a clue what to expect and whether they’ll like it. Even worse: they know they won’t like to work in that field, but still go and get a degree because the job pays well. These people are very unhappy. A high income won’t make their life better.
As long as it takes little energy and time to achieve your goal and you can afford to change your mind after you achieved it, well, why not try. But when you’re talking about 4-5 years of your life (for a degree)…I think people should put more time into doing some research and trying things out before starting uni.
Other life goals work the same way
Some time ago we had a chat with a young couple (friends) about family planning and they seemed very convinced about the fact that they wanted three kids. They didn’t have one yet, but they knew for sure they wanted three.
Another example: friends (a young couple) decided to buy a house and move out of the city to a little village. Sounds good so far. They got a massive loan and bought a house. But it’s in the middle of nowhere. They bought it because they liked the house and they couldn’t afford one closer to the city.
They haven’t spent a single day in that village, but they seem to be sure they will love it. They know that they’ll need two cars but they haven’t thought about the fact that they are still going to be isolated. Visitors won’t just quickly pop by. If they don’t like the house it’s not going to be easy to just sell and move one. You need to find a buyer first…
While it’s allowed and perfectly fine to have three kids or have a house in the middle of nowhere, I still don’t really understand how people can be so sure about wanting to achieve a goal and even commiting to it, maybe borrowing a ton of money but have no clue about what’s going to be like when they achieve that goal. They have no idea whether they’ll actually like it.
Financial independence is just another goal
If your goal is to find a job at a major company and climb the career ladder, well, if you work for that, if you focus on achieving that the chances that you get high up that ladder look very good.
On the other hand, if you decide to become financially independent and you start reading blogs and books to see how other people did it, learn about investing, control your expenses, and…even better, set up a strategy (here’s what we used) and guess what, sooner or later you will get there.
It’s that simple.
There’s no need to try it. There’s no risk that you’ll hate it since you can always decide to work whenever you want if you don’t fancy doing nothing all day.