Posted on November 12, 2008 at 2:44pm EST. More.

How to set your goals

Here is the secret formula I’ve figured out:
  1. Make a wish.
  2. Determine what you need to do to make that wish come true.
Employee reviews were always a mixed bag for me.  I enjoyed hearing about how awesome I am and I genuinely wanted to hear useful advice that would confirm my insecurities and help me improve.  However, a big part of the review process was answering the question, What are your goals?  I had no idea how to answer this question, and my various supervisors never had anything useful to say about it.

I’ve been fortunate enough to build up some savings, which my parents encouraged me to invest in a mutual fund.  Trying to pick funds is confusing, but the worst part is that if you ask anybody for advice, they start with the same question: What are your goals?

A week or so ago my friend Bridget asked me what I would do if I had a million dollars.  As you might expect from me, I responded with a brief discussion about how a million dollars really isn’t all that much money (thank you, Andrew Tobias) especially if her real question is supposed to be what I’d do if I didn’t have to worry about money.  After all that was cleared up I finally got around to saying I’d buy a nice apartment but otherwise wouldn’t change my life too much.  Generally, I’m happy.

Since then it has occurred to me, though, that buying an apartment is something I could plan for.  That is something a lot of people plan for.  It’s a goal, and in fact, a pretty cliché one.  Then I thought of a few other “wouldn’t it be nice if” scenarios.  Then I realized that, each time I’ve been asked about my goals, I should have started by making wishes.

Golly, that sounds sappy.