The beginning of a new year produces much talk in the media about “New Year’s resolutions”. All this talk is premised on the notion that making resolutions – goal setting, in fact – is a process to be engaged in once a year for the coming year.
I have adopted the habit of writing down goals for the year, but I do it more often than once a year. I do it quarterly. And I don’t just do it for the year.
On a quarterly basis, I write out goals on a “lifetime” basis, and for the next five-year, three-year, one-year and quarterly periods.
And I organize my goal setting in relation to the several areas of life which are important to anyone’s happiness and well-being. These are business, financial, health, family, and yes, fun! Sure, my personal injury law business is very important to me, but I take the view that it should serve me, not the other way round, and this means that goals should be set in a balanced way to involve all the important activities and relationships that when developed, can give us a fulfilling life.
Goals must be written down. The writing out of goals keeps us accountable to ourselves.
The critical point about setting lifetime goals and not just yearly ones, is that it enables us to examine ourselves as to what is ultimately important in our lives. A newsletter column by my friend Rem Jackson discussed research drawn from work with people who were dying. The most common death-bed regrets turn out to be as follows:
Number 5: I wish I’d let myself be happier. (It turns out they realized too late that happiness is actually a choice).
Number 4: I wish I’d stayed in touch with my friends.
Number 3: I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
Number 2: I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
Number 1: I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
Pretty good counsel from people who should know. The way to avoid a regretful “wrongful” death, is to live a rightful life. The unexamined life, without meaningful goals and progress toward them, is a wrongful life.