Coding Goals for Your Life
Most people would agree that the Olympic Games ranks among the world’s most rigorous, respected and legendary trials of achievement. An Olympic Gold is a mark of extreme and exacting expertise, glory won through training, practice, passion and determination. By those standards, one young Jamaican could be called a legend in his own time. His name is Usain St Leo Bolt, but he is known as simply Usain Bolt. He holds the world record in the 100 metres, 200 metres and 4 × 100 metres relay, and is the only sprinter to win the Olympic 100 m and 200 m titles at three consecutive Olympics, in 2008, 2012 and 2016.
Bolt is widely considered to be the greatest sprinter of all time. The media nicknamed him Lightning Bolt.
In an interview with ITV News at the launch of his autobiography, Faster Than Lightning, he said that the key to his success was continually setting goals in life. “If you want to be the best, or you want to strive for more,” said the world’s fastest man, “you’ve got to set goals in life. I set mine to the highest standard I can achieve”
Bolt’s journey began with a single audacious vision : “I want to be a legend.”
That grand goal fundamentally changed the way he ran. While other runners ran to win a race, Bolt won for a higher purpose; his vision was something much grander. What made him a legend finally was his deep understanding of how each race he won was a step towards his life goal of becoming a legend.
“You can daydream for free,” he said once, “but goals come with a price. Time, effort, sacrifice, and sweat.”
It should surprise no one that Bolt has paid that price and, in his early 30s, is all set to retire, having achieved his goal.
Setting your life goals is one of the single most demanding, vital and life-expanding things you will do as you read The Source Code To Success. This one activity will give you a detailed map of your way forward, step by step, towards the future you have envisaged in your Vision and Mission statements.
Building the world’s first $1 trillion company
When Steve Jobs was literally a nobody, he and his buddy Steve Wozniak assembled a small, exceptional personal computer because he wanted to make “a computer for the rest of us”. At that time, computers were treated as costly, arcane, inaccessible machines that specialists and experts used. Jobs did not know then that the little boxy computer he and his friend created in a garage would one day be at the heart of the world’s first company to be valued at over $1 trillion.
Jobs had a vision, though he might never have written it down as a sentence on a sheet of paper. However, once Apple became a legal corporation, it did need to craft clear statements of vision and mission.
Jobs statement was typically concise; he was not a man who enjoyed wasting words: “To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind.” Jobs is no longer alive, and Apple now has a wordier but more surgically precise statement of vision —
We believe that we are on the face of the earth to make great products and that’s not changing. We are constantly focusing on innovating. We believe in the simple not the complex. We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products that we make, and participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution. We believe in saying no to thousands of projects, so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us. We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in a way that others cannot. And frankly, we don’t settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company, and we have the self-honesty to admit when we’re wrong and the courage to change. And I think regardless of who is in what job those values are so embedded in this company that Apple will do extremely well.
Its mission, equally, verbose, is —
Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.
But yet, Apple today is still doing exactly what Jobs had envisioned — in a sentence, as Jobs put it, the company is making tools for the mind that advance humankind.
Jobs believed deeply that having a world-changing vision required a certain amount of craziness, a belief in the impossible. “The ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do,” he said memorably once.
Jobs certainly fit that description well. Orphan, college dropout, globetrotter, one-time hippie, pothead, nerd, Jobs drifted, seeking and not finding for many years. The story of how he and Steve Wozniak founded Apple in the back of a garage is now legend. Apple redefined personal computing and set the bar for what a user interface should be like.
Fewer people know that Steve Jobs, at the height of his career with Apple, was evicted from the board and found himself jobless. Suddenly his life had been reset and he had to find a new purpose. Being Jobs, he lost no time in re-inventing himself. With his next company, appropriately called NeXT, he single-handedly transformed movie animation, leading the world into a stunning era of enchanting stories, unimagined special effects technology and immense profits.
He also spent $10 million to buy up the computer graphics division of George Lucas’ production company, Pixar. Even Jobs could not have imagined how much Pixar under his stewardship would disrupt the animation industry.
Once again, he seemed to have a single-minded focus on what his company would achieve, even if he never put it down on paper. Those who worked with Jobs remember that the one mantra he repeated whenever he could was Make it great!
Jobs had no idea how to “make it great”. He knew only that he would have to take small steps, starting with upgrading the hardware and creating new, powerful software. The first of these was the Pixar Image Computer, which produced stunning high-resolution imagery at an equally stunning price of $135,000. But though it got some attention, it created a ripple, not a tidal wave.
More successes came as Pixar teamed up with Disney: the computer animation production system (CAPS) which eliminated the need for hand-drawn ‘cels’ and freed up capabilities for advanced effects; and, RenderMan, the software used for the groundbreaking visuals in live-action films like The Abyss (1989) and Terminator 2 (1991).
Pixar was still not doing well, staying afloat through personal checks from Jobs, amounting to some $50 million through 1991. Then they created Toy Story — and the tide began to turn. Disney was interested in financing and distributing Pixar’s first feature film. Jobs helped hammer out a three-movie deal for 12.5% of box-office receipts. The film earned a staggering $30 million at the box office.
Then came a 5-movie deal in 1997 in which the two sides split all costs and profits, placing Pixar on par with Disney, the company that had dominated the animation industry for six decades.
Jobs sold Pixar to Disney for $7.4 billion before returning to revolutionize Apple again. This time, he made sure that his top two lieutenants, Lasseter and Catmull, were given full reign to run Disney Animation as part of the sale agreement. Guided by his goal, Jobs made Pixar a household name, and helped it become the driving force behind some of the most successful and popular films of the past 20 years.
When Jobs returned to Apple, he was his own reincarnation. If anything he had sharper focus, more discipline. In the decade that followed, he trimmed Apple’s portfolio, bringing sharp focus to a handful of best-selling products, introduced the iPhone, and the iPad, and turned the company into the world’s first trillion dollar company.
Learning from the Hanks’ family ritual
The beloved film actor Tom Hanks feels very strongly about many things, such as being true to one’s principles and values. One of the things he is passionate about is setting and achieving goals. So strongly does he feel about goal-setting that he has even devised an annual family ritual around it. I’d like to end this demanding chapter on this affectionate, cheerful note, and as a reminder that goal-setting does not have to be a chore. It can be a delightful family activity.
Hanks and his family sit down together once a year and make a list of goals they want to achieve: “We sit down with the family and everyone make five realistic goals to achieve over the year that we can help each other out with. My number one was to wear suits more often. Another was to exercise 300 days of the year. For an hour a day. I get 65 days off.”
What are goals?
My favourite analogy for explaining goals is based on ships. Imagine you are the captain of a ship on a beautiful journey across the Indian Ocean destined for the Bahamas, where you are looking forward to a joyous re-union with your parents. With such clarity about your final stop, your radar and control room can receive clear instructions and give you perfect guidance. Of course, you will encounter a number of unanticipated problems, such as a cyclone, pirates, or even a machinery breakdown. These may slow you down a little but your final destination will remain clear and unchanged.
Imagine now a second scenario, in which you are still the captain of the same ship but have no idea about where the ship should go. Sometimes you let the ship drift where the winds or the currents take it, and other time you make random, arbitrary course changes. Here’s what is certain — given enough time, you will certainly reach somewhere. That place might even be a paradise more beautiful than the Bahamas. However, it could equally happen that you end up isolated in some desolate, dangerous place. Worst of all, wherever you reach, you will not have any purpose once you reach there.
I like to say that you always have the choice whether to be the football or the footballer. The football’s direction is decided by the footballer; it goes where he kicks it. Look around you: you might realize that most people live their lives like footballs, doing what they’re told and going where they’re ordered to. But the ones whose names live forever and whose lives make a difference to other lives are the one who decided that they would call the shots and be footballers.
Having clear goals is like captaining a ship that has a clear destination.
So, what then is a Vision? How is your Vision related to your Mission and Goals?
Your Vision is your clear image of where you want to go.
Your Mission is a statement that explains why you want to achieve that particular Vision.
Your Goals are the milestones that will tell you that you are getting there.
Take the example of the ship bound for Jamaica with you as captain.
Your Vision might be To reach Jamaica within 60 days.
Your Mission would be To meet my aging parents and spent a wonderful two months with them to let them know what they mean to me.
Your Goals would be a broad series of steps that would help your achieve your Vision and Mission. For example —
Goal 1: Save the money for the voyage in the next two months
Goal 2: Buy a suitable yacht within the next two months.
Goal 3: Leave Mumbai by April 1.
Goal 4: Reach Cape Town by May 7and refuel there.
Goal 5: Reach Florida by May 23 and refuel there.
Goal 6: Reach Jamaica by June 7.
Goal 7: Have a wonderful time with parents.
Goal-setting is the process by which you decide what you want to achieve in each of your 11 areas of life over a particular period of your life. It is important to remember that goals do not have to span your entire life. For example, when you are a teenager, your goal in the life area called Career may be as straightforward as Complete medical studies and get an MBBS degree.
Once you have created your Goals, you will be ready to make an Action Plan, which details the steps by which you will achieve each goal and move from one goal to the next.
Setting goals has one overarching purpose: it gives you absolute clarity about where you want to go in each of the 11 areas of life within a specific timeframe. Goals help you to narrow your attention and direct your efforts towards goals-relevant activities. There is no hard rule about how long-term goal should be, but I recommend that if you Vision spans 7 years, you could see your goals for shorter periods like 1, 2 or 3 years.
There are three powerful reasons for setting goals in each of the 11 life areas —
You will feel the confusion evaporates once you nail down your goal. Suddenly, you will see clearly where you want to go and what your own future could look like — even if the road to that place will evolve with your efforts.
Your thoughts will now acquire focus and start becoming creative in breaking the goal down slowly into a series of smaller actions.
Part of the goal-setting processes is to identify inspirational role models or mentors in each of the 11 areas of life. I give great importance to identifying role models because I have seen time and again that their lives, experiences and insights are powerful motivators in moving you towards your own goals.
Warren buffet believed in the importance of having the right role models or mentors from an early age. Role models are people you admire and look up to, people who have already achieved goals similar to yours.
For example, if you are a doctor and preventing death from preventable diseases is your Vision, then you might feel super-charged by having a legendary doctor such as Dr Jonas Salk, inventor of the polio vaccine, as your role model in the career success area.
Similarly, if you’re an investor and want to excel in the stock market, you may consider Warren Buffet as your role model.
If you are an entrepreneur and aspire to excel in the field of technology, you may consider Bill gates as your role model.
A role model can be someone from your family; Warren Buffet and Bill Gates were inspired by their fathers, as were the billionaire Turakhia brothers of India. It could be someone from among your relatives. For example, my uncle has always been my steadfast role model since childhood.
You may have more than one role model in each life area. Remember that role models are touchstones — they will turn your life to gold because they have the power to influence and inspire you and bring about paradigm shifts in your life by the example of how they lived their lives. Choose your role models well and suddenly you will find your mindset itself changing from a limited view to an abundance of possibilities.
The importance of writing down goals clearly
I want to share with you the findings of a remarkable study conducted by the Harvard Business School MBA in 1979. The graduating class was asked a single question about their goals in life: Have you set written goals and created a plan for their attainment?
84% of the entire class had set no goals at all.
13% of the class had set written goals but had no concrete plans.
3% of the class had both written goals and concrete plans.
Ten years later, the students who had set written goals but not created plans were making twice as much money as the 84% of the class that had set no goals at all. However, here’s the punchline: the 3% of the class that had both written goals and a plan, were making 10 times as much as the remaining 97% of the class.
Dr Gail Mathews, professor at the Dominican University in California, conducted a revealing study with 267 people from all over the world, representing different nationalities, professions and ethnicities. She found that those who regularly and clearly wrote down their goals and dreams had a 42% higher chance of making them come true than those who did not.
So why does writing your goals help? It’s an important thing to know; after all, it might seem like a lot of extra work to write something down when you can just as easily store it in your brain, right? Neuroscientists are beginning to understand that writing something down ‘encodes’ it in the brain’s hippocampus, where it is analysed and stored in long term memory. A written goal is a goal you will remember better and which will actively guide your brain in its decisions.
Neuropsychologists also think of this as a ‘double whammy’ that figuratively burns the goal into your brain. The first whammy happens when you think of the goal and visualize it in detail. Then when you write this down, your brain receives the same vision again in a different form. This is called the ‘generation effect’ and effectively imprints your goal in a permanent way into your brian.
The 5-step process of Goal-setting
The table below contains a row for each of your 11 life areas. I want to introduce you to a simple, 5-step process for filling this table.
1. Align your goals in alignment with your Vision, Mission and Values.
2. Think big — really big — in each area of your life in reference to the table. For example, I want to be a doctor who changes the course of preventive medicine is better than I want to be the most successful doctor in Odisha. A good goal should feel so awesome that you cannot even imagine ever achieving it — and yet to commit to doing exactly that.
3. Eliminate conflicting and unnecessary goals. For example, Learn French and become a language coach and Complete your 5-year MBBS course could be conflicting career goals. Choose one powerful, transformational Career goal.
4. Identify a role model, an inspirational person who has already achieved the goal you seek and can serve as a reminder of how you will look and feel when you have achieved it. Now write down reasons why you want this goal; and declare a time frame for achieving it.
5. Write it down with absolutely clarity.
And now it’s time to get started.
Where you want to go in life in each success Area.
A reference person who have already achieved what you want in life
Why you want this goal
Neuroscience explains why write goals https://tinyurl.com/s24ue8w
The power of writing down your goals https://tinyurl.com/st2hgce
Steve Jobs vision https://tinyurl.com/rspukb9
Apple’s vision and mission https://mission-statement.com/apple/
Apple’s vision and mission analysed https://tinyurl.com/yd7fjdck