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Setting Goals Towards Success and Happiness

I am a graduate of engineering who enjoys writing, public speaking and motivating people to be the best they can be.


It requires clearly defined goals to achieve happiness and success. As a matter of fact, the imperativeness of goal setting in the pursuit of success and happiness cannot be overemphasised. Tony Robins said, ‘Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.’

Goals are the tools that shape people’s attitude and drive; they motivate one to imbibe and forge the discipline that will make one conduct one’s affairs in such a way and manner that will usher in the life of one’s dreams. Goal setting is a fundamental human trait and survival strategy; the first step to achieving both notoriety and fame.


As stated earlier, we all set goals. However, one of the best, liberating decisions one can ever make is to come to the awareness that not all goals are noble or worth pursuing. A sure way of attaining notoriety, or ruining one’s own life, is to scorn this sacred assertion.

Bad goals are definitely not goals that will fetch you real success or for which you will be celebrated. For example, people go to prison because they were not circumspect in setting their goals. Bad goals push bad habits and illegalities that will most likely get you into serious trouble and preclude you from achieving success and happiness.


A good goal drives you towards a noble cause; it helps you impact lives positively, making decisions that will make the world a better place. Some examples of such goals include creating jobs; striving to be better than the best; stepping in to demonstrate uncommon leadership amidst anarchy and political upheaval; to keep the peace; to embrace volunteering; to build a huge and business empire; to be a good spouse or parent; to raise successful and well-mannered children; academic success; being a great athlete or writer; breaking into the sparsely populated world of highly successful people; being a great and selfless leader; being a fearless critic of bad and hopeless leadership or policies; to discover a vaccine or cure for a hitherto incurable, debilitating ailment–the list goes on and on.

To be able to set good goals, it’s pertinent to answer some vital, thought-provoking questions bordering on the essence of one’s existence. For instance, what do you intend doing with your life? Why do you think you’re here? How do you want to be defined and remembered? Are you already the best you can be? Are their ways to better your lot? Won’t self-improvement make a difference to your present situation? The answers you provide to these questions will determine your goals, which in turn will define your life’s trajectory.

Do you aspire to make an indelible footprint on the sands of time? Do you indeed crave extraordinary achievement or intend to be highly successful? Are you willing to transcend the normal human path of getting a good education, landing a good job, and enjoying a blissful retirement? If yes, then you have to act right away by setting the right goals. With this, great success lies ahead of you.


Your goals must be realistic if they are to be accomplished. Dreams that are far too removed from reality constitute mere wishful thinking. An ostrich, for example, can dream of flying but such a hugely irrational goal will remain a perpetual fantasy. An English adage says ‘If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.’ Moreover, the late American statesman and former president Theodore Roosevelt said, ‘Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars, but remember to keep your feet on the ground.’ These shrewd, timeless sayings convey vital life’s lessons on setting realistic goals.

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Your goals should be set within the ambit of such critical and limiting parameters like the resources available to you, your skills and, in some cases, your environment. This seemingly restrictive position holds true for every facet or stage of human endeavour. It makes no sense, for instance, aspiring to become an engineer when one’s mathematics skills are irredeemably bad. An organisation is bound to fail, or at the very least erode its own credibility, if it undertakes projects for which it lacks the requisite competence. Moreover, a third world nation running a curriculum that is best suited to an advanced economy stands the risk of being confined within the abyss of perpetual underdevelopment.


The greatest discovery you will ever make is to discover your calling. As previously implied, the ability to strike a harmonious balance between your dreams and certain cardinal parameters will determine the level to which you’ll be successful and fulfilled. One of the stark, blunt realities of life is that we are not all equally gifted and certain heights or privileges are not meant for everyone.

There are places you are definitely not meant or rightly wired to be. You can stretch yourself to the limits, but you can never achieve anything worthwhile beyond your competence. For instance, history is replete with men and women from all spheres of life whose political adventures culminated in tales of sorrow, sad amusement, heartache, anguish and unwarranted bloodbath.

In my own estimation, there is no greater misery than the situational irony of expending so much on making an acquisition that later culminates in tales of woe, frustration, erosion of credibility, untimely demise, or a place in the hall of shame. You can, of course, avoid this scary, sombre scenario by exhibiting a sharp, good sense of judgement when setting your goals: never delve into what you’re not really made for, or for which you’re not ready to acquire or seek the requisite skills; it bears all the hallmarks of a harbinger of an unmitigated disaster. Real fulfilment lies in making the most of what you have and striving to be the best you can be with it.


Furthermore, it’s of utmost importance to get your priorities straight when setting your goals. The goal of a student, for example, should be to pass examinations, not to party hard. The goal of a budding entrepreneur should be to create a viable and enduring enterprise, definitely not to be given to extravagance. The pursuit of a military leader should be to accomplish an assigned task in such a way and manner as to keep most of his men alive, not personal glory. In addition, the goals and aspirations of a good leader are to seek the welfare of their people; they should not aim to advance any divisive, selfish ideologies or agenda.

Misplaced priority engenders failure, misery, despair and disaster. For example, development will elude a poor country with leaders who, instead of focusing on improving critical infrastructure and poverty alleviation, opt for frivolities or primordial pursuits like expending public funds on religious tourism and the building of an enduring personality cult.

It’s also noteworthy that very few things corrode success, happiness and legacy as a dysfunctional family. A parent should thus prioritise and ensure the proper, all-round development and welfare of their children, even when this entails temporarily sacrificing their own happiness. This will pay off handsomely in the long run, as it will preclude the misery of having one’s children become vermin and ne’er-do-wells.


Admittedly, life isn’t fair. It’s incontrovertible that things can still go horribly wrong despite doing everything right. Moreover, sometimes, the unintended consequences of one’s good, well-intentioned decisions could become one’s undoing. Nevertheless, decisions are the major determinant of destiny, and the only way of making good decisions is to set good goals. The actualisation of whatever goals and aspirations you have starts from here.

© 2021 John Macleans

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