THERE IS an essential preliminary step we should take before
the task of goal setting. An objective assessment of our weaknesses.
It may be self-assessment or assessment carried out with the help
of parents, teachers, or sympathetic friends. We have to be frank
in our assessment. The weaknesses may be deficiencies such as
poor reading habits, inability to tackle mathematical problems,
inadequate drawing skills, examination phobia, hatred of the classroom,
want of persistence, poor concentration, habit of making silly
mistakes, or lack of self-confidence.
An appreciation of our weakness and adoption of appropriate
corrective measures will develop our confidence in taking up challenges
in goal striving. It is important that our early attempts in achieving
small goals should succeed. Remember the maxim `nothing succeeds
like success'. Looking at our negative aspects is not counterproductive
as some may suggest. We are only being realistic and rational
when we do this. Our attempt is to correct negative traits and
not brood over them perpetually. Sometimes we may write down some
of our negative traits that we do not want others to see. But
we should see them in black and white in our own privacy. This
is only an exercise in facing truths, with the ultimate motive
of self-improvement. We have to write out the steps that we intend
to adopt for correction.
It is sometimes said that you may know a lot about several
things, but you do not have a clear picture of yourself. Thousands
of thoughts cross your mind each day, but how many of them pertain
to knowing what you are? Reflect on what you want to become in
Identify those activities that you enjoy most, and thoughts that
offer you delight. These will tell you something about yourself.
You feel more energetic when you do things that take you to what
you want. Look at school dropouts. They hardly have any passion
for schoolwork. They feel that the school will not take them to
destinations that they cherish. Normally you constantly talk to
yourself and draw mental pictures. Try to write about them even
if they are negative in content. When you write out what they
are, you gradually realise what kind of person you are. Do you
hate regular schedules or strict adherence to a fixed timetable?
What are the activities that take you to seventh heaven? Ask similar
questions to yourself. The aggregate of the candid answers you
give will paint your own picture before you. This helps in effective
goal setting and further follow-up action.
One element of follow-up action may be the efforts to change some
of your habits that obstruct your easy movement to the expected
goals. Good study habits are essential for keeping learning efficiency.
Perhaps you may have certain poor study habits. For example, if
you have the habit of lying down while reading your lessons, you
get no opportunity for making notes or trying to sketch the diagrams
that are part of the lesson, or solving numerical problems on
Unless you solve numerical problems independently, you may not
be able to do them in the examinations. It is fairly certain that
a student, who just reads the worked out examples from a textbook
in his relaxed posture and does not take pains to solve them by
himself, would regret his poor style when he fails to solve similar
problems in the examination hall. Be confident that habits can
Copying from your neighbour's assignment sheet may ease your work
temporarily. Once you do it, it is likely that will you repeat
the action. In course of time that becomes your habit. Unless
you make a conscious effort, you may continue the unhealthy habit
that will ultimately harm your studies. Never be under the impression
that habits once formed will always be with you, despite your
efforts to change them. It is only a question of will. Remember
the pithy saying,
"Sow a thought, reap an action;
Sow an action, reap a habit;
Sow a habit, reap a character;
Sow a character, reap a destiny."
Those who want to attain excellence in any activity will benefit
from what Aristotle once said, "We are what we repeatedly
do; excellence is therefore not an act but a habit."
It is easy to say that you are changing one of your habits for
the better. You may change your behaviour on one or two occasions,
but may drift back to the old style.
You have to exert your will to commit yourself to the new habit.
Affirming your intention and sticking to it steadfastly is an
essential ingredient of successful goal striving. A common illustration
is maintaining good handwriting. We know the great benefits of
a good hand. Many students often do not secure the marks they
deserve in examinations, since they do not write legibly in the
examination paper. No examiner would strain himself to decipher
what you have scribbled in the answer book.
A neat hand simplifies the examiner's job and creates a good impression
about you in his mind; that impression will be of your advantage.
Even on other occasions, a beautiful hand may help you in several
ways. But many of us have no patience to make a habit of writing
only in a good hand.
We assume that we are in a hurry and scribble something even when
we have the time for writing it neatly. Keeping a fine hand is
a habit. Unless you have some good reason to do otherwise, write
only in a legible hand. In other words, you develop a habit of
maintaining good handwriting.
Whatever you write should be legible for others to read easily.
If a person has the habit of scribbling carelessly, he himself
may not be able to read what he had scribbled earlier.