Now that you have established your objectives, let’s take your goal setting exercise one step further. You have listed 3-5 things you are trying to achieve, but how do you pursue 5 objectives at once? Is one more important than another?
I think so.
One of the problems with being a free agent is that you are free to pursue whatever you want, however you want. Whatever it was that your boss would have made you do, well you can take that and shove it. Or can you? Think about the teenager whose parents go away for the weekend. Without the oversight and supervision of the parents, the teenager is free to pursue his heart’s desire — even if that heart’s desire is destructive, or worse, self-destructive.
That’s one of the reasons that I insist you have at least one goal that is about paying your bills. Beyond that, I think it’s important to rank your Objectives using this system, which is based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. (Don’t know what Maslow’s Hierarchy is? Read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow’s_hierarchy_of_needs).
The basic concept is that in the pursuit of happiness or personal satisfaction, one’s basic needs must be met before pursuing higher-level needs. For example, if you are worried about not being able to pay your rent and struggling to figure out where you will get your next meal, it’s unlikely that you will have the energy to pursue self-actualization. Therefore, I’ve created a weighting system based on a value judgment that if your basic needs aren’t met, you won’t be happy, even if your spiritual needs are being met.
Using the Hierarchy Value Key here, categorize and rank your objectives.
Hierarchy Value Key
5= Necessary for basic survival – food, shelter
4= Health/ Safety
3 = Belonging/Emotional/Relationship
2 = Status/ Self-Esteem
1 = Self-Actualization/Spiritual/Creative
As you look at your ranked objectives, do they tell you anything about yourself? Do you have at least one objective that aligns to basic needs? What about the rest of your objectives? Are you surprised by their distribution? Are they balanced across 4 or 5 categories or do they mostly fall into a single category? If they are all 5s or all 1s, for example, you may want to re-assess your objectives.
This exercise doesn’t just serve the purpose of self-reflection. It also can be a guidepost for you during those times you feel overwhelmed with too much to do and not enough time to get to it all. Remember: Activities that serve your highest ranked objectives should come first. When those are taken care of, you will be able to relax and enjoy the time you spend working towards your lower-ranked objectives.