Tuesday, April 26, 2005

I've been thinking a lot about goals lately, as the first year here draws to a close. I think I've actually come a long way in deciding what I want to do with my life, which has been a nice benefit of the case method. You get to read about how so many different protagonists chose to live their post-MBA life, and you start to really get a sense of what you want to do with yourself.

I've got one overall long term career goal, with a couple or three intervening paths to get there. Right now I'm really focused on two options straight out of school, and hopefully this summer will allow me to decide which way I want to go. Either I'll love my summer job, and that will be the industry to move into, or I won't, in which case I go to Plan B, which is really just Plan A2, in that I am basically indifferent between them.

So what does any of this have to do with goals? Well, back in December I meant to write about a couple of books I read over the break (Replay by Grimwood and Memoirs of Hadrian by Yourcenar). One of the themes that the books shared was the idea that without goals and direction you won't ever accomplish what it is you want to do. Instead, 1,5,10 years will pass and all of a sudden you'll realize you're 40 and you haven't done anything you wanted to do. So, as my long term goals become clearer I can break them down into short and medium term goals so that in 10 years it all works out.

In order to stay focused on my short term goals I try to make it a habit to write them down in a notebook once a day. Now, at this point I might start losing people with this quirky sounding new-age BS, but for me it works. This is what I used to focus on the CFA, b-school applications, and my summer job search, and in each case I accomplished exactly what I set out to do. I'm not saying it will work for everyone, you've got to find your own system, but the basic idea of setting goals and keeping them firmly in mind is a powerful one.

Anyway, the difficulty lies in figuring out a concise set of goals that covers everything, is motivational, and can be written down each night without being so tedious that I won't do it. So, that's what has occupied my thoughts when I say I've been thinking about goals.

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