I read this interesting article Go for Goals by Adrian Teo on TheStar, a Malaysian daily.
"Something to aim for makes life interesting. EARLY this year, while having dinner, I bumped into a family friend whom I hadn’t seen for at least five years. I waved at him, he waved back. I gestured to him to join me at my table, pleased that he could recognise me. We then exchanged information about ourselves and our family members.
Despite having put on some weight, my family friend looked healthy, his face was radiant. He retired in 2008. And when we hear of someone in retirement, the cliché remark arises – “Isn’t every day a holiday now?” –which I made to this family friend of mine. Instead of nodding his head, he disagreed. He complained about being idle, not being able to pass the time. Not having much to do daily apart from light gardening work outside his house and taking regular evening walks in his neighbourhood, he began to feel lethargic. He thought of volunteering his time and energy, but wasn’t too keen about it at the same time.
Then he met up with an old colleague who, upon hearing his dilemma, revealed to him the importance of goal-setting. It’s crucial for anyone, especially retirees, to set goals to stay focused. Although retired, there’s no need to let go of everything for the sake of fitting the mould of retirement – my family friend was told. It can be a goal with a target date many months or weeks down the road. The idea is to have something to work on and look forward to, which in turn will fill you with a sense of purpose to keep you going.
“Goals are what keep us going. How often do we hear of someone retiring after 40 years and dropping dead within a few short months?” asks Andrew Matthews in his book Being Happy! “It is our nature to have goals. We can’t live without them, or at least not for very long.”
Curious, I asked my family friend what goals he had set for himself. The last time he went to Genting Highlands was in the late 90s. Buoyed up by the suggestion to set goals, he made Genting Highlands his year-end destination with his wife. To make the goal challenging – choosing the expensive peak Christmas time for his seven-night getaway – it required some hard saving if he wanted this goal to be achievable. This was the only goal he set himself, actually. And, to see “the new Genting Highlands,” he said, he had about eight months – from the day he committed himself to this goal to the departure day – to save up for this holiday.
My next question for him was: Does setting the goal made you feel less lethargic? He pondered this, but was quick to point out how exhilarating it was as the date drew closer, and the fact that he refused his wife and daughter’s offer to help pay for the trip made this goal more meaningful if he were to accomplish it.
Of course, life wouldn’t be life if everything always goes smoothly. “When setting out for a goal, it is worthwhile remembering the way things work on this planet. Nothing travels in straight lines. No goals are achieved without setbacks,” explains Matthews in his book. “When the tide comes in, it comes in a bit and goes out a bit, but gradually it makes its way in.”
For my family friend, his setback was minor. His house needed minor repair work, and he had to use the money from the amount he’d put aside for the holiday. Despite that, he accomplished his goal of visiting Genting Highlands with his wife during the Christmas period of 2009. Whether he stayed there for seven nights as planned, or less, I didn’t dare ask.
It was nice to hear he’d achieved something – I call it his second honeymoon – which he’d not have accomplished if he hadn’t been introduced to this goal-setting theory. Most importantly, he felt good, he was in high spirits, healthy, and proud of himself.
Being a nosy person that I sometimes am, I asked about his next goal – big or small – to keep him going. The twinkle in his eyes, before he even answered my question, said it’d be something big. He revealed that it’ll be a dinner gathering with all his close and distant relatives, some of whom he hadn’t seen for more than 10 years.
The great thing about setting goals – especially goals that require a lot of effort and planning – is that when the goal is accomplished, you’ll experience an enormous sense of pride and joy. But many people tend to doubt themselves when deciding on a goal. Even as they work on achieving it, the common fear and question is: “What happens if the end result of my goal doesn’t turn out to be as excellent as I’d hope?” “Actually, it is wonderful,” reveals Matthews in his book. “They have now eliminated an additional possibility and they know more about what will make them happy and what will not.” Depending on how you see it, goal-setting may also be a tool for self-discovery!"
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Think, Write And Retire!