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Nigerian Scholars » Articles » 7 Important Goals to Intensely Focus on While You’re Still Young

7 Important Goals to Intensely Focus on While You’re Still Young

7 Goals to Focus While We’re Still Young

Face it! You’re not going to be young forever. In fact, with each coming birthday you celebrate slowly but surely comes old age. The point of this article is not to make you feel sad about your humanity and inevitable fate but to guide you towards a more enriching and fulfilling life. And this kind of life is best achieved by starting early.

7 Important Goals to Intensely Focus on While You're Still Young

Although from a big picture perspective, time is not necessarily moving. It’s somewhat infinite and will exist even after the world ends. Before we start to enter deep philosophy or physics, let’s just say that that it’s the time we have to be alive that is limited. Because life is fleeting and ultimately ends for each of us at some point, we can learn to better appreciate, learn from and make the most of it. So, let’s begin:

Goal 1: Getting to Know Yourself Better

This is by far one of the most important goals to focus on while we’re young. The reason is because we all have a major role to play in creating a life for ourselves that is most enriching and fulfilling. Even though we cannot change our past, our backgrounds, and the circumstances surrounding our birth and childhood, we still have the capacity to sculpt our characters, control our reactions to events and ultimately influence our destinies.

The ability to overcome adversity and maximize our potential is greatly hindered when we don’t really know ourselves. A lack of adequate self-knowledge can very easily lead to constant self-sabotage. Self-mastery is a must-have if you want fulfillment in life. This is the ability to control oneself, in particular one’s emotions and desires, especially in difficult situations. And the first step towards self-mastery is getting to know yourself better. In identifying your strengths, weaknesses, thought patterns and behavioral patterns, you can then begin to learn how to control, change or positively utilize them.

Understand that you cannot afford to pay little attention to, or worse, ignore your behavioral patterns and predispositions. This is simply because life can get unnecessarily difficult when we’re the ones sabotaging ourselves and no one should spend their lives living in denial. It helps here to notice your reactions to events of a similar nature and asking yourself if the results were what you had intended. 

Getting to know yourself better takes time and that’s why it’s best to start early. It also requires a lot of patience and commitment. Making observations about your behavior can be carried out most effectively when you do it with some detachment, so that you don’t end up beating yourself up or over-justifying your actions. This will make it easier for you to admit faults and attain more objective insight.

Every now and then, if you need to take out time for yourself, please do. Don’t feel pressured by the need to keep other people constantly posted with all that is going on in your life. Also, if you need to have some hard and vulnerable conversations with insightful people who know you well, who will be willing to tell you the truth and who have your best interests at heart, don’t be afraid to do so.

Goal 2: Acquiring Skills and Learning Deeply

Because each individual’s life is short, our time for learning and creativity is limited. We have only so much time and so much energy to expend. Experts say our most creative years are generally between our 20’s and 40’s. Youth is a great time to admit inexperience, to make a commitment to life-long learning, to value learning above all else, to find mentors who can help to streamline the learning process, to trust the process, to get used to some of the grind that comes with learning, and to acquire practical knowledge in the most efficient manner possible.

We all have access to high levels of intelligence that can allow us to understand our surroundings better, anticipate trends when we need to, respond quickly to opportunities if necessary, and navigate the world better. However, this intelligence is cultivated by deep immersion in a body of knowledge or subjects of study that are tied to our inclinations.

Experts say it takes about 10,000 hours or 6 to 7 years to master anything. While we can reduce this time with more efficiency and help from mentors that are far ahead or more experienced people, the best time to begin developing our skill-sets and knowledge-banks is still now. Also, someone once said: “If you develop a love for reading while you’re young, it just might be what saves your life.” So, learn as if your life depends on it.

Goal 3: Understanding Other People Better

A major obstacle that hampers our ability to maximize our potential and make the most of our lives is the emotional drain we experience when dealing with the people around us. As with getting to know yourself better, you cannot afford to ignore the behavioral patterns of the people around you, especially people close to you and people you work closely with.

Your ability to detect the intentions of those around you will help you avoid confusion and conflict, communicate more clearly and directly, navigate smoothly through the social environment and ultimately provide you with more time and energy to focus on learning, acquiring skills and adapting to your environment.

As with observing yourself, observing others requires patience and some amount of detachment to avoid being overly sentimental or judgmental. You don’t want to be quick to categorize people or summarize them with over-generalized stereotypes. You also need to give people the benefit of doubt until you have gathered enough information. And this most often takes more time than some of us are willing to give. With time, you will get better at more accurately recognizing those you can work with and those you might need to avoid. Remember to do this with tolerance and be careful not to be quick to write people off. Also, it helps to communicate with people with an open mind.

Goal 4: Staying Open-Minded

Openness is a quality that is easier to express, adopt and maximize when we’re younger. From a place of naivety, younger people tend to be more curious, find it easier to try new experiments, and can more easily see the world with more openness. With fewer hard-set thought patterns and less dogged belief systems, younger people can often reinvent themselves over and over in search of an identity that works for them.

As we get older, we form deeper habits, develop more fixed routines and get accustomed to certain thought patterns. This is normal and is perhaps, our brain’s way of achieving efficiency and conserving energy. However, as our thinking starts to get locked-in, our ability to think creatively and fluidly can get hampered. Although, if you’re an older person reading this, it should help to comfort you by mentioning that habits can be changed with deliberate, persistent and conscious effort.

While you’re young, it should be your goal to retain and cultivate this open mind as it will help you try new things with less fear, learn more from different experiences and eventually discover unique opportunities. This will make it easier for you to carve a place for yourself in the ruthlessly competitive world we live in and find a path that is unique and fulfilling.

Goal 5: Learning to Make Do With Little Resources

Some of us find might this difficult because it tends to require a lot of discipline. However, as with most difficult things, you can gradually adapt to it. Unfortunately, some of us, on the other hand, don’t even have the financial resources to manage in the first place. In this case, it helps to motivate yourself with the stories of people who started from scratch and eventually overcame adversity. However, the ability to make do with little resources transcends money management. It also includes time management as well as the ability to manage other tangible and intangible resources that are in limited supply.

Learning to make do with little resources is an exercise in self-discipline and helps you build self-control, composure and general management skills. In general, you want to learn this skill early because it will pay off in the long-run. In feeling less pressure to “out-do” or “out-perform” your peers and by mastering the art of management and resourcefulness, you will be able to carve out more time and resources for learning and building a solid foundation for yourself.

To master this skill, it helps to avoid incessantly comparing yourself to others. Understand that people’s backgrounds, circumstances, and experiences are unique and different. You’re in no competition with anybody and there’s really no end to the feeling of inferiority that comes with constantly comparing what you have with what someone else has. By moving at your own pace and focusing on what you have, you will be able to make better choices that will help to better secure your future. 

To develop your resourcefulness, it also helps to define for yourself what a fulfilled life is. You can try to imagine how you would feel by the time you’re 70 years of age if you have gotten the things you most value. We tend to think about success in terms of wealth and accomplishments, which is not a such a bad measurement. However, obsessing over the “glamorous” material victories and neglecting to account for the inherent sacrifices required to reach most big goals can make it difficult to form healthy habits and follow up on our goals. By defining some values or having a sense of what’s most important for you to have, you will be better able to manage and focus your time and resources with better clarity. 

Goal 6: Building Your Social Network

Human beings are largely social and we depend on our collective ability to cooperate to survive and advance. Like it or not, you will always need to depend on someone else for some reason and at some point in your life. Children depend on their parents, guardians and teachers for support, care and information around the world around them. As we grow older, our dependence starts to transform into more of interdependence. Buyers depend on manufacturers and sellers to provide the goods and services they need. Sellers and producers on the other hand, depend on buyers to be able to pay for what they provide. The point is that our ability to play our social roles and work with others makes things easier for everyone.

While young, you want to start connecting with the right people and creating this interdependent dynamic with them. Remember that it’s best to always try to make your intentions genuine and clear because most people can sense when someone cannot really be trusted. As your ability to understand people gradually gets better and as your insight increases, you will be better able to identify people you should be emulating or spending more time with. We tend to subconsciously infect one another with our energy levels and thinking patterns, so choose wisely and build your network deliberately.

Goal 7: Trusting Your Reasoning Powers More

As you slowly attain self-mastery, become more socially intelligent, acquire more skills and practical knowledge and meet more people, your experiences will start to bring greater insight and perspective. This should also enhance your ability to think more clearly. As your ability to think more clearly for yourself improves, you should start to trust your reasoning powers more.

Well, this is less of a goal and more of an ability that will start to feel more natural with time. You will be able to see through fads and distractions, accept yourself much more, own your achievements and compare yourself much less to others. You will also become better able to focus your mind and concentrate your forces where they will be most productive and yield the best results for you. And if you’re fortunate, you might even live long enough to be able to look back and say to yourself: “I came, I saw and I conquered.” How many people get to be that lucky?

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