Before we start, a quick reminder that the next LIVE WEBINAR is this Sunday September 24th at 8am on defining useful parameters and principles when setting goals. Register using this link.
Why do we do anything? Yes, it’s a ridiculously broad question. Yes, the question lacks context. Nevertheless, what’s the answer?
Human behaviour can be boiled down to one thing. The pursuit of results. Everything we do is in the expectation of a certain result.
Results can take two forms. It can either move us towards something that we perceive as positive/pleasant or away from something that we perceive as negative/unpleasant.
Why do we aim for that promotion?
To move towards a better income, greater status and more influence.
To move away from less income, not enough responsibility and limited opportunities.
Why do we start a business?
To move towards monetising our passion, higher income potentials and flexible lifestyles.
To move away from the 9-5 grind and having a boss tell us what to do, where to be and when to work.
Why do we brush our teeth?
To move towards that fresh feeling in our mouth, white teeth and great dental hygiene.
To move away from bad breath, cavities, plaques and of course, expensive dental fees.
Why do we want financial freedom?
To move towards doing what we want, when we want with who we want.
To move away from working because we need the money.
Why do we want that big house?
To move towards a sense of achievement, prestige and success.
To move away from a story of not having much when we were growing up.
Why do we go to the hospital when we have chest pain?
To move towards living and move away from death. I always try to weave in something about dying. There are reasons for this but that’s for another article.
If life is the pursuit of results, then effective goal setting becomes very important. I call this the art of the setting ‘dope’ goals. I use the word dope a lot. If you are wondering, here is why. I am Sri Lankan born kid who grew up first in New Zealand, and then in Australia. For some reason, a lot of the kids from the subcontinent were drawn to hip hop culture. I spent most of my high school years trying to emulate Will Smith from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. I even called myself the “fresh prince” at medical school but unfortunately, it didn’t stick. I eventually fell in love with hip hop as a dance form. As a humble brag, I won the Med School Talent show 3 years in a row! As a result of this influence, I often use words like dope. Dope can refer to cannabis, performance enhancing drugs used in elite sports, a stupid person or Homer’s tagline on the Simpsons. It can also mean, very good. This is how I use it (most the time).
I love to help busy professionals. Before we look at the art of setting dope goals, let’s understand the traps that busy professionals often fall into when setting goals in their life.
People in the busy professional stage of their life are usually in their 30s and 40s. They are ambitious and focussed heavily on their work as this is a time where their career starts to gain momentum. In life, they may be in committed relationships, married and or raising a family. This culminates in a very busy, stressful and simultaneously fulfilling period in one’s life. If you are interested, I have written a whitepaper on work life balance for busy professionals. Click here to download.
I find it useful to explore goals through the lens of the 3 games that we play in life – the Happiness game, the Health game and the High Performance game. The 3 H’s. Yes, the name of my newsletter and webinar series!
The Happiness game assesses the quality of the relationships you have with life’s circumstances, people and most importantly, yourself.
The Health game looks at your sleep, diet and activity levels to gauge your physical fitness and health.
The High Performance game covers things like income, career growth, wealth creation, personal branding and your contribution to society.
A common trap that busy professionals fall into is that they set great goals in their work (i.e. High Performance), average goals for their health (i.e. Health game) and usually below average or non existent goals for their mental health (i.e. Happiness game).
Real life story:
David was working at ANZ when I met him. I asked him about his work goals. Without hesitation, he said “I want to be in an executive position within 1-2 years”. I asked him about his goals outside work. After much consideration, he answered “I just want to be relatively healthy, have a good marriage and hope my kids get a good education and are happy”.
Real life story:
Ash works extensively in the tech start up scene. I asked him about his work goals. With a smile on his face, he said “I want to build a 8 figure company and exit”. I asked him about his goals outside work. After a lot of thought, he answered “I just want my kids to be happy and healthy and make sure my body doesn’t fall apart as I age”.
Did you notice the difference in the quality of the goals?
The High Performance goals have two characteristics. They are SMART (i.e. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely). And, they are worth getting out of bed for. They are dope goals!
The Happiness and Health goals lack these two characteristics. They are not SMART. Aiming to have a “good marriage”, “happy kids” or “making sure my body doesn’t fall apart” is vague and intangible. And, they are not goals that will make you jump out of bed every morning to go after. These goals are dope deficient.
In the busy professional stage of life, we often prioritise work and high performance over happiness and health. His holiness the Dalai Lama describes this insanity better than I can.
When asked what surprised him about humanity the most, the Dalai Lama replied: “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.”
However, the Dalai Lama doesn’t explain a very important caveat that it is possible to have it all without having to choose.
Let’s explore the art of setting dope goals.
3 steps to set dope goals in all areas of your life
I believe that we can excel in all areas of our life, Happiness, Health and High performance, at the same time without compromise, I am often met with skepticism.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford.
If you think you can’t excel in all domains of your life at the same time without compromise, you’re right. Well done, you have just fought for your own limitations.
If you think you can excel in all domains of your life at the same time without compromise, you’re also right. Congratulations! This is worth fighting for.
- Adopt dope mindsets for each of the 3 H’s.
These are the mindsets that I have set for each of the 3 H’s in my life. I invite you to adopt similar mindsets or come up with better ones. They will guide the goals you set.
Dope mindset for Happiness game.
I ask myself, how can I be happy before, during and after anything? If you can answer this question, and I believe you can, it means you are happy all the time. It’s an audacious conversation and one worth having.
Dope mindset for Health game.
I ask myself, how can I be healthier by the time I reach my next big milestone (e.g. 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100 years old)? In other words, how can I get healthier as I age. It is possible! If you don’t believe me, look up Dr Gladys McGarey. She is a practising doctor and walks 3800 steps every day. She is 102 years old! The following is not a typo. She has a 10 year plan! Of course, one day you will lose this game as everything that has ever lived has eventually died. There I go again about death. Regardless, it’s a very useful mindset to adopt.
Dope mindset for High Performance game.
The first part of this mindset is to meet your physiological needs – water, food, shelter and safety. If you are reading this newsletter, you probably already have that. This is nothing to sneeze at. Some people don’t have this luxury. After you meet your physiological needs, the fun begins. The fundamental mindset that I apply to the High Performance game is that with the right strategy, a proportionate amount of effort and a bit of luck, you can have whatever you want in life. There are no limits other than the one’s that are created between our ears.
- Set dope goals
With these mindsets to guide us, it’s time to set some dope goals.
“The greater 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.” – Michelangelo.
Dope goals have two characteristics. Firstly, they are SMART. Secondly, they are exciting and are worth getting out of bed to pursue.
Here are some real life examples of dope goals from my patients and private clients.
Happiness game goals:
-Become divorce proof in my marriage (that’s dope). The SMART part included many things including a daily foot massage for his wife.
-10,000 hours of meditation.
-Gratitude journal every day, for the rest of my life.
-Be able to run 5km in 20 minutes. This says a lot about your baseline fitness level.
-Do an ironman on my 50th, 60th and 70th birthday.
-Eat sweets only on Saturdays for the rest of my life.
High performance game:
-Build a multi-national company and exit for at least 8 figures.
-Financial freedom by the age of 50.
-Passive income of $1,000,000 a year.
-Build a hospital in a developing country.
-Monetise my passion and make $1,000,000+ in one year.
-Build enough wealth that my whole income can be donated to charity and social enterprises every year.
- Dope can mean a lot of things. This article uses dope to mean, very good.
- Busy professionals often set dope goals for their work (i.e. High performance game) and lame goals for their happiness and health.
- Belief that you can excel in all the 3 H’s at the same time precedes goal setting.
- Adopt aspirational mindsets in all of the 3 H’s. For happiness, aim to be happy all the time. For health, aim to get healthier as you age. For high performance, decide that you can have whatever you want in life.
- Set dope goals in each of the 3 H’s that are worth getting out of bed for and are SMART.
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P.S I talk about the nuances of concepts like this in my LIVE webinar series every Sunday at 8am. The next LIVE WEBINAR is THIS SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 24th at 8am on defining useful parameters and principles when setting goals. Register using this link.
Much love to you and of course myself,
Dr G (The Fresh Prince)
If you want to find out more about coaching, email me at email@example.com
Download my whitepaper on work-life balance here.
For more articles – https://drgihan.com/articles/