Tuesday, 20 April 2010

The Importance of Goals

The importance of setting goals has become a popular topic of discussion and blogging. Many of us have heard the teaching "Reach for the stars, that way you might just get to the moon" (unknown).

Let us take a look at why it is important to set goals. Why cant we just do, just be busy or active or inactive, according to our choice. How does setting goals help us to succeed in life?

The Model of Human Occupation (MOHO) by Prof Gary Kielhofner states that a person can not be healthy in the absense of meaningful occupation. That means that our health is directly related to how much importance we give to the activities, tasks, occupations that take up our time and comprise our daily life. The more a task has meaning to us, the more we are able to be motivated by it and to have the desire to complete the task despite any challenges that may arise.

MOHO teaches further that the stage of development, roles, values, beliefs of a person will have a direct impact on our goals, volition and the necessity to complete certain tasks.

Let us look at an example of going for a bicycle / tricycle ride.

If the person going for a ride is a child of about 6 year old and is just mastering the skills of cycling independently on two wheels, going for a ride down the road or even to the end of the dirve way can provide enormous excitement, motivation to achieve and potentially nervousness as to whether s/he will manage to ride just down the drive way or to the end of the road.

For an experienced cyclist, his / her goal in terms of where they will cycle to will alter tremendously. Someone training for a cycle race will need to have as a goal, time, speed and the nature of the terrain. It could be that they will want to practice the same route that a given cycle race will take.

For someone who used to ride a bicyle but has been ill or had an injury and is now struggling to have the endurance to ride even down the road, his or her goal in cycling on a give day becomes quite different and they put in physical exercise in order to regain strength and endurance.

Let us now look at an inspiring uncle of mine who at 97 years old described a goal of his. He had obtained a tricycle designed for the elderly and was determined to improve his skill enough to convince his son that he could have a motorcycle. On a particular day he went out on his regular cycle ride and took a wrong turn. He decide to explore the new route that presented itself to him until he either tired or recognised somewhere. When he reached 2 miles he decided it was time to turn back.

With each of these scenarios, we see that the age, stage of development and certain other factors in the life of the person will affect how far they decide to go, where to, how fast etc. Each of these details help to comprise the goal of the task / activity, in this case a bicyle / tricycle ride.

My uncle demonstrates an important point. Even when he had taken a wrong turn, he decided to make his ride meaningful in terms of exploring a new area near where he was living, and measuring how far he could cycle until he had to turn back. Even though he did not know geographically where he was going, he still had a goal and enjoyed his afternoon cycle.

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