The article highlights about the problems being faced by many people in recognizing their inner strengths and the problems involved in setting goals and achieving the same. The concepts like treasure mapping, visualization and stretch goals have been talked about in this article. It dwells in depth about the concept of goal, its significance and ‘why do people fail?’ The goal setting for students by taking Indian Civil Services Examination as an example has been created so that the same can serve as a case study and which will serve as an approach for other careers for all students. The article lays emphasis on Indian culture of goal setting. The author has mentioned the types of goals and evolved a new concept ‘MSR Goals’ at the end. The tools and techniques and the innovative methods that can be deployed to accomplish the goals is focussed. At the end, the practical problems related to goal setting, obstacles involved, how to overcome the same has been effectively addressed to reach one’s cherished goals.
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Every human being has an inherent, innate urge to grow and get recognition. It is natural trait amongst all the human beings to do something unique and extraordinary in order to get noticed. It is because of this strong desire, man invented many things right from the Stone Age and evolved himself as the most intelligent animal that can talk, memorize and reason. All the latest technology, comforts, innovations, inventions etc., are the result of the root desire to excel and get noticed from the crowd. Although all human beings are gifted with many qualities and traits, it is only a few who explore their inherent strengths and succeed in the society. And the majority gets absorbed in the crowd. Goal setting as a tool had been existing since time immemorial but very few realized that goal setting as a science and as a tool. All people those who succeeded from Stone Age to space age has set their goals one way or the other.

Goal setting is a wonderful and interesting tool and, if used as the right technique, man can succeed in his life. The management books do lay stress on this as it has become a vital and pivotal for the success of any institution or organization. In this century and especially in the recent years this tool is being added in various academic institutions in order to get the best results.


Everyone has a goal either directly or indirectly and whether one pursues seriously or casually and whether knowing it consciously or unconsciously. Goal setting as a tool can unlock the vast hidden human potential. Harvey Mackay quoted, “ Goals give you more than a reason to get up in the morning; they are an incentive to keep you going all day. Goals tend to tap the deeper resources and draw the best out of life”.

Goal setting as an idea can change the world within you and around you. It makes an individual to plan properly. It provides a sense of direction and prepares one to organize himself properly. It constantly awakens an individual to remain alert both physically and mentally. It builds up confidence and competency. It raises the levels of energy and enthusiasm. It cultivates passion and it brings out the best from the people. And it helps in managing one’s time efficiently and effectively.


Goals vary from person to person depending upon the values one cherishes. For example, the goal of Mahatma Gandhi was to attain independence for our country from British. The goal of a sportsman is to win goals medals in Olympics. The role of a businessman is to stand numero uno in his business line. The goal of a student is to stand first in his class or to stand first among all institutions. Likewise goals differ from individual to individual depending upon his tastes and temperaments.

However, the goals are basically divided into short term and long term goals. Again, the span of long term and short term differs from context to context. Usually less than a year, it is known as short-term goal and if it is more than a year, it is known as long term goals. One needs to have both short term and long term goals and one must see that these two are closely related. To lay stress on the significance of long term goals Charles C. Noble rightly said, “You must have long term goals to keep you from being frustrated by short term failures”.

For instance, if some one wants to become a successful businessman, he must set his short term goals in such a way that the successes or achievements made out of the short term goals must be intertwined with his long term goal. Even if there are short falls or set backs resulting out of short-term goals, the long-term goal will not be lost sight of as aptly said by Charles C. Noble.

In marketing language, goals are known as targets and the marketing people continuously strive to reach their marketing targets. By this way also the companies expand their business.

Jack Welch of General Electric (GE) highlighted about stretch goals. When the goals are stretched, people work with more dedication, determination and discipline. Because stretching oneself leads to touching upper limits and touching one’s upper limits bring a great sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. One way the stretch goals are encouraging and enlightening and force an individual to stretch to greater limits.


Abraham Lincoln said, “ A goal properly set is half way reached”. First, find out the strengths and weaknesses and list it out. It is desirable to consult your trusted colleagues to assist you in this exercise. All human beings have biases and prejudices. And if assessed by yourself it may not give you correct analysis. Acquire the correct analysis and report of your strengths and weaknesses. After listing out your strengths in the assets side and weaknesses in the liability side, you can deeply analyze and can come to a conclusion about your personality profile. Then you list out your inner ambitions and goals whether they are matching with your profile. Whether it can be attained or reachable and what are all the obstacles or hindrances or the stumbling blocks on the way to reach the same. It is a typical mental exercise but once the process is completed it is almost like a winning half of the battle.

All efforts must be made very clear to see that the goals are not conflicting and contradicting with each other. Check whether your goals are in tune with your principles, policies, philosophy and ideals. If found to be in tune than go ahead. It is like what Epictetus said, “First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do”. The next stage is to break the goals into smaller parts or elements. You can also divide the goals into short term and long-term goals. Here another important thing is to commit your goals on paper. Some one rightly said, “Write it down. Written goals have a way of transforming wishes into wants; can’t into cans; dreams into plans; and plans into reality. Don’t just think it – ink it! ” Studies revealed that 95 percent of the people don’t write their goals and it is only 5 per cent write and their success rate is higher.

After classifying written goals into short term and long term goals, break down the tasks further on a daily, weekly, fortnightly, monthly, quarterly and annual based. By executing in this way you will get focussed and it becomes easier for you to monitor your performance periodically. It is like a few people making annual resolutions on every New Year day and tracking the same at the end of the calendar year.

Goals should be set in such a way that you must be able to work with passion rather than under compulsion. While setting the goals there should not be any influence from parental side, family side or friends’ side. And don’t set the same goals, which others have set and succeeded, as goals will vary from person to person based on attitude and aptitude. In a nutshell, don’t copy others’ goals.

While setting goals, usually set small, achievable, and reachable goals. Any effort to set bigger goals in the initial stage itself will lead to failure and becoming a demotivating factor and thereby upsetting the apple cart. Global steel giant Mr.Lakhsmi Niwas Mittal said, “Set realistic and achievable goals. After achieving the same, set further higher goals”. For each goal there should be a deadline and fixed time frame. Ensure that the goals have multiutility purposes and objectives. At times intuition can prove handy in setting goals.

It is rightly said, “A successful person doesn’t quit trying once a goal is reached, but sets a new one and keeps going”. Always reward yourself after reaching each small goal. It boosts your energy levels and also serves as a motivational tool.


Students should recognize their inner and inherent abilities in the childhood itself. A goal, which is focussed for a long time and that too from the tender age itself, will become more meaningful and realistic. “Goals are discovered, not made”, said Richard J. Foster. In this context, the parents must play a pivotal role to find out the hidden talents of their children by scientific or psychometric analysis tests and must nurture the children. Simultaneously, teachers have also a vital role to play in this context. They are also involved in shaping the minds of the students. If the approach is triangular i.e. from parental, teacher and from the student level then the probability of reaching goals faster and quicker are brighter.

If a student dream of becoming an IAS (Indian Administrative Service which is a prestigious civil servant post in India), he should get equipped him right from the elementary school level itself. For this, there should be both short term and long term goals. In short term goals, the student should stand first in the class by reading the entire subjects voraciously from different dimensions. He must be a good leader in the school level itself by organizing various social and cultural activities. He must excel in all types of competition such as quizzes, essay writing, extempore speech etc., He must also participate in sports and extra curricular activities, which builds qualities like team spirit, camaraderie, killer instinct, organizing ability and sociability. Like wise, he must be all rounder right from the school level itself so that when he comes to higher level of education he will have strong foundation. Rather he will become jack of all trades and when he joins in degree level he will become master of a particular trade.

The short-term goals, which he achieved, will indirectly correlate to his long-term goals of becoming a prestigious civil servant. The extracurricular activities like reading newspaper daily, winning in essay writing, extempore speeches; debates will groom him to become an eligible participant for civil services. The student is sure to succeed in the competition examinations and will come out with flying colors because he knows something of everything and everything of something. Such a wonderful example of a particular career is given to effectively combine both short-term goals and long term goals chronologically and systematically in order to make it like a case study for all students with a career of his choice.


Although goal setting is a universal thing, there will be difference in analysis and application of this tool from one country to country because of diversified cultural, social, political and economical backgrounds. In the case of India, goal setting is based on herd mentality/instinct, and it is mostly dictated and directed by parental wishes and guidance. Rather to put in a nutshell, goal setting is not based on aptitude but on attitude. Once upon a time, going for Class I Indian Civil Services Examination was considered respectable and commendable. Many students showed their eagerness to get into these services because of the prestige and power associated and attached to it. Gradually things changed the other way round with the changing times, technology, tastes and temperaments.

Indians are basically strong at mathematics and now they are strong at Information Technology. Students began concentrating on professional qualifications like engineering, medicine and management. These days everyone wants to become an engineer or doctor or a management executive. It is basically because to get fat pay and perks, to get placements faster and to get settled quicker with comforts. So we can conclude that Indian culture of goal setting is purely based on herd instinct. Parents also want the quick settlement of their children in their lives.


“The shortest way to do many things is to do only one thing at a time”, quoted Sydney Smiles. People fix too many goals at a time and get confused. The so-called multitasking is not effective in goal setting, as the individual is not able to focus on a singular activity with concentration. Such things lead to confusion and chaos resulting in failures. And it is a known fact that failure rarely stimulates positive vibes except in case of a few extraordinary individuals.

Some people are good starters but are poor finishers. When they are faced with obstacles their initial enthusiasm gets fizzled out thereby neglecting their goals. Overconfidence is the worst enemy. People tend to rate themselves as superior humans and take everything for granted resulting in failures. Some people are a confused lot and they keep changing their goals frequently resulting in a fiasco. Lack of involvement and resources could result in giving up goals.

Setting unrealistic goals could prove to be counter productive. People often fail to break a big goal into small elements and make futile efforts to achieve and fail miserably. Lack of sincere and sustained efforts may be another reason. “Vision without action is a day dream, action without vision is a nightmare”, goes the Japanese proverb. In few cases people work without any proper planning thus resulting into a fiasco. People often get confused between hard work and smart work. In fact what is needed is the combination of hard work and smart work that can deliver healthy and positive goods to reach goals. Improper time management is one of the key reasons to failures. Procrastination is the thief of time. People are in the habit of postponing the difficult tasks thus resulting into procrastination. Once the goal is set there has to be determination to reach by any means. In some cases, people do not organize actively towards their goals due to lethargy. In this context Elbert Hubrard clearly said, “Many people fail in life, not for lack of ability or brains or even courage but simply because they have never organized their energies around a goal”.


The globally renowned American author, Dale Carnegie said that man had to conquer six types of fears. Firstly, fear of criticism, secondly fear of failure, thirdly fear of old age, fourthly fear of poverty, fifthly fear of ill health and sixthly fear of death. It is fundamentally both the fear of failure and fear of criticism that are the stumbling blocks to goal achievement. People tend to bother and tend to be oversensitive and as a result, they fail to retry even after their repeated failures. One should make a note that success is the product of successive failures.

Wavering mind is the worst enemy of a man. Once the goal is fixed the mind should neither wander nor waver from the goals. People, at times, get engaged with too many other activities resulting in ineffective concentration on goals. Lack of emotional support either from family or friends can divert the attention. Inadequate resources may become another obstacle. People are often faced with internal and external threats. In most of the cases, the internal threats can be managed. Where as the external threats can not be managed effectively which are in fact beyond human control. Even if one is sidetracked temporarily due to threats he must be able to place himself on the right track mentally. Things like insecurity at times become another major mental block.


Always develop the ability and capability to hit the bulls’ eye. Periodically monitor and review your goals. Whenever you reach your goals, try to reward yourself with a small break or holiday or a gift which drives your energy level to the higher level. Regularly check yourself whether you are sidetracked or sidelined from your committed or chosen path. Set reminders to cross check whether you are on the fast track or not.

Daily read the written goals once in the early morning when you get up from your bed and again when you go to bed. By doing so, your goals will automatically go to your subconscious mind which will serve as a reminder whenever your mind goes out of sight or out of the way of your chosen goals. Try to come out from your comfort zone and enter into effective zone, which brings thrill and joy and keeps you going. Always attempt to touch your upper limits. Once you reached a goal, set tougher goals so that you tend to touch your upper limits further.

Try to motivate and hypnotize your mind and visualize that you have reached your goals. Treasure mapping and visualization work as a wonderful tool to reach your destination. Close your eyes for some time, picturize and visualize the success and then open your eyes, you will find yourself with radiating energy and enthusiasm. It refreshes and recharges your mind.

Daily allocate fixed amount of time for your both short and long term goals. Try to remove your psychological and mental blocks and myths, which hinder to the path of reaching your goals. Create a friend circle that contributes towards your goals and values either directly or indirectly. Collaborate your different goals into one and streamline rather than indulging in conflicting, confrontational and competing goals.

You should always be guided with single objective, which must be highly focussed. In the Hindu epic – Mahabharat, the teacher Dronacharya was often blamed by his students who belong to the faction of Kauravas and especially Duryodan that he was showing partiality to Arjun of Pandava faction. The teacher Dronacharya who was vexed with frequent allegations by Duryodan offered a test to showcase the skills what Arjun possessed. Dronacharya arranged a fish, which was kept hanging with a thread with in a tree and asked all his students to tell what did they see in the tree. Every one could not notice the fish and said that they found leaves and fruits. But it was only Arjun who said to his teacher (Dronacharya) that he was able to see an eye (i.e. eye of a fish). It shows that Arjun was highly focussed on his goal (i.e. eye of a fish) not even the fish. Then Dronacharya told his students that all his students were equal but it was Arjun who was more dedicated, concentrated and focussed on his goals. Therefore, you must stay focussed on your goals and that is the mantra of success and the secret of success.

Wherever it is possible, simplify your life by removing complexities. Be committed and always do not say ‘yes’ to all other unrelated tasks for the sake of courtesy as such things will divert and divest you of your objectives. Try to keep motivational and inspirational postures related to your goal at your home and at your work places. The author has a poster of Swami Vivekananda with a slogan, “Arise! Awake! And stop not till the goal is reached” at his bedroom which constantly motivates and takes him towards his goal. Listen to the audio CDs related to your goals and watch video CDs that will elevate you. Always think, dream and sleep with your goals and one day, you would find that you have reached your goals and the entire world applauding over your achievements.


The road from nowhere to number one is not easy and it is an uphill task. It requires a lot of planning, organizing, directing, preparation, controlling both internal and external deviations, which might sidetrack or sideline the cherished goals. Materially, motivationally and managerially, it requires a confluence of various factors and resources. In this context, Aristotle aptly said, “First, have a definite, clear practical ideal; a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends, wisdom, money, materials, and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end.”

You should accept goal setting as a strategy and adopt it as a powerful tool and technique. Set your goals rightly, get into the correct track, follow the right track and be always on the fast tract to reach your beloved and cherished goals.


Jim Collins’ ‘Good to Great’ gave a tip to have ‘Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals’.

Goals must be motivational and inspirational. The goals so set must move you constantly on your toes. It must provide daily fuel to your body and mind and energize with enthusiasm. Arnold H.Glasgow rightly said, “Make your life a mission – not an intermission”. Your life will be filled with energetic activity with a mission to achieve your goals.

Make your goals simulating and stimulating. The goals will make you to visualize your success in simulated conditions. Such simulated mental success will in fact raise your interest to achieve your goals in realistic world.

When you set reachable and practical realizable goals, then there will be a higher success rate to accomplish your goals. When one set practically possible goals it enhances confidence to move ahead with optimism and dynamism.


Never change your goals. Setting goals is like setting your destination towards success. If required, change only your strategies to reach your destination but not the destination itself, however problematic the path towards your destination might be. Madam Curie won Noble prize twice. She said that path to success was not easy. She always worked against all odds and reached her goals successfully.

Remember the wonderful words of Ursula K. Leguin, “It is good to have an end to journey, but it is the journey that matters in the end”.

About the Author :
Professor M.S.Rao is the Founder of MSR Leadership Consultants, India with more than 30 years of experience in leadership development.

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