“The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of life is this; decide what you want.”
– Ben Stein
Long ago in a distant province there lived a poor little girl and her family. Due to poverty, they barely had enough money to buy food and they sometimes ate just rice and bagoong (shrimp paste) or salt for dinner. While her mother and father were barely able to send her three brothers, they wouldn’t pay her tuition. Everyone thought that she should just find work as a labandera (a local laundry girl) in their village to earn extra money, get married, and live there for the rest of her life.
The little girl hated that idea.
She didn’t want to live in poverty, she didn’t want her life to amount to nothing more than washing laundry for a few piddling coins, and more importantly, she didn’t want her future children to experience the same hardships that she did.
She insisted on going to school until her parents agreed. Although she was too poor to buy shoes or lunch, she studied hard and often got top honors from grade school all the way to college. Eventually, she graduated and had a great career getting promoted as a supervisor in a large company before marrying and having children. Together with her husband, she worked to earn a comfortable upper-middle class life for her children, eventually letting them study and graduate from the top universities in their country. There’s far more to the story than that, but the point is the girl earned a better life through her hard work and determination.
Instead of accepting poverty, she made it her GOAL to earn a better life, gave her best, and succeeded.
That little girl was my mother.
Survive or Thrive?
Study and Graduate School, Find a Job or Business, Start a Family, Work until Retirement, Die. That’s the life plan almost all of us have, and most succeed in it. When those are our only goals, they’re all we’ll ever accomplish.
We work to eat, eat to work, and work some more to buy stuff.
We don’t have money for food and a home? We work for it.
We don’t have money for that car or gadget we want? We work for it.
We get sick and the house needs repairs but we don’t have money for it? We work for it.
No problems? Everything comfortable? Then we stay as we are, working the bare minimum for survival and comfort. And that’s where the problem lies: When our goal is to just survive, we can never thrive.
“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”
Now back to Life Goals…
Earl Nightingale, author of “The Strangest Secret” (Click Link for Book) said you should imagine you own a ship and you planned a complete voyage to Treasure Island. As you guide the ship to where you need to go, you shall reach your destination. Now imagine another ship with nobody inside to pilot it. Will it reach treasure island? No. It will likely crash and end up derelict in some beach or sink in the ocean.
Which one of those ships would you bet your life on? Obviously the one you guide.
Here’s the thing: That ship IS your life! You can either guide it to where you want to go, or just go with the flow and end up like everyone else. School, Work, and Die, never achieving your dreams.
So what DO you want in life?
Three meals a day so you never grow hungry?
A good house so you never need to sleep on the cold streets?
A nice working-class income so you can afford what you need?
Enough money to feed a family of four?
Enough money to send your children to school?
Enough to eat the best and most nutritious food and have a healthy body?
Enough for a great car and buy great gadgets?
Enough to travel to wherever you want and see the world?
Earn P100,000 every month or P1,000,000 every month?
Once you know exactly what you want, you’ll know how to attain it.
You’ll know what career path you should take and how to advance it.
Maybe you should learn how to manage projects? Learn how to manage a hundred employees?
Maybe you should start a side-business on weekends, buying and selling gadgets, designing clothes, writing for newspapers or magazines, cooking and selling food in a catering business, etc.?
Maybe you should expand your business to another town, city, state, or country? Maybe you need to find some investors and contacts in those countries? Maybe find people who can run, manage and expand your business?
Maybe you can do something else? Something different from what you’re doing now so you can get closer to earning your dreams?
Like my mom, there are thousands of poor families everywhere who were able to make their children graduate school. Since that goal is very important to them, they were able to do whatever it took to achieve it, even though they remained poor. Aside from her children studying and graduating from the best schools, a part of my mom’s goals was to escape poverty so she worked for it and succeeded. I believe those poor families can achieve it too once they make earning wealth a part of their goals.
What are YOUR Goals?
If you don’t know exactly what you want in life, you’ll work for years and yet never achieve them. Like what Robert Collier said in “Secrets of the Ages” (You can find the book here), you’ll be like a drowning man spending all your time and energy yet still going nowhere. If the drowning focuses their efforts on the goal of reaching shore, they’ll achieve it. When you focus your effort on your goals, then you’ll achieve them.
“Create your future from your future, not your past.” – Werner Ehrard
LifeWork (like homework… but for your life!):
- Do you know the story of Aladdin and the genie that grants wishes? Imagine you have a genie that gives infinite wishes. What would you wish for? What do you want in life? What are your goals and dreams? Do you want a healthy family? A nice house? A good car? Travel abroad on a great adventure? Have P1 million? Donate P1 million to charity? List down 10 or more of your goals and dreams on a piece of paper.
- Choose ONE important goal, the one you want to achieve before you die and we’ll use Robert Schuller’s Possibility Thinking Game from his book “Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do!”
List down 10 things you can do to achieve your chosen goal (You can also do this with your other goals, but right now, choose just one).When you do this, the possibilities open and you’ll learn that your goal was never impossible after all.
- Choose a way to earn your goal, and start working on it. Whenever you feel that it’s too much work, remember and imagine what it would be like if you already achieved your goal. No matter how hard it gets and even if you fail a few times, if your goal inspires you, it will give you the strength to keep going.
Good luck, and I hope you earn your dreams soon!
“Dream big dreams; only big dreams have the power to move men’s souls.”
– Marcus Aurelius