smart goals

This is What Happens When Your Goals are Not Bigger and SMARTER

Do you have a SMART Goals or Just Bigger Goals? Here’s what I have noticed. We set bigger goals, but not SMARTer.

Goals and Goal Setting involves establishing specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-targeted ( SMART Goals ). But, let’s do a reality check of my goals (past and present).

This blog post was written as the direct results of following external factors:

Here is my story about my past and future goals in my life.

High School

  • When I was in 10th Grade, my goal was to become a Doctor.
  • When I was in 12th Grade, my goal was to become a Doctor.
  • I was asked to become an Engineer, and so I got admitted into Engineering College.
  • When I was in Frist year of Engineering, still my goal was to quit Engineering and become a Doctor.


  • 2nd year to 4th year of Engineering school, my goal was to attend Graduate School in the USA.
  • I complete Engineering with First Class and Distinction (above 75% without backlogs)
  • After completing Engineering, I was getting used to the being an Engineer.

Graduate School

  • First 2 Semesters was to graduate MS with 4.0 GPA
  • 3rd semester to graduation, goal was to get an internship and full-time job.

I received time job offer, before my last semester at school started. I had got my H1B before I graduated from Masters Degree.

Most of my goals were focused on what I wanted 2 years from now. Do you think my goals looks like your current goal? When  I started working full-time, my exposure towards life gave new insights. I started meeting new people, who had much bigger goals in their life.

I was thinking regarding how to pay my rent and buying a home with huge mortgage. They were thinking how to create the business, how to be the true knowledge worker, and what would be their next investment. So, my goals started getting bigger. But, this time, instead of 2 years, I was thinking five years from now. I added timeline and list of things I have to do reach my goals.  I created  Massive Action Plan ( as Tony Robbins says).

Why Set the Lower Goals?

Now, you have read my story, let’s get into why I started writing this article. As I said before; two reasons influenced me to write this post.

Chat My Friend

I was chatting with my friend about his plans, who is working for Software firm in India. I realized, the massive difference in our thinking and expectations from life and goals.

I asked him, “Why not set a higher goal?”.

His said, “I would like to have higher goals, but with my exposure and environment, I have set goals that I think is high enough for me”.

I would have set a similar goal if I was back in India. I realized the influence of living in America.

Impact of the Books

I have set my goal which is much Bigger and Higher. I wanted to build something that gives me “kick”. I wanted to help others. I just don’t to have a 9-5 job and be content with life and be reactive to what life throws at me.

While reading this first chapter of the book Steve Jobs, I realized, his goals were much higher and more significant while he was in High School. His parents knew he was Smart; Special and Intellectually gifted. They gave him the opportunity to bring out the best in him. They encouraged his curious mind to explore.

While reading some comments at Graduates from India – Higher in quantity, but little in Quality, it is very clear that our goal setting is greatly influenced by our parents and people we surround ourselves with.

How big is your goal?

Who influenced your goal setting process?

Is your goal is smaller and similar to my goal from school, college days?

Most of you, reading this post will have goals like: getting to MS, Finding a good job and I consider them to smaller goals.  Really?

  • I want to complete Masters Degree from U.S.A and get a good paying job.
  • I want to earn in U.S. dollars
  • I want to settle in America.

If you are limiting yourself to reach only the next target, you are going to be reactive to your environment. Just like I how was in High School and College. Do you think being reactive to life is good enough for you?

Maybe you want to live an American Dream ( Have a Job, Buy a Car and Home). Is that good enough for you?

I Came to Realize that.. SMART GOALS works

So, while reading the book Steve Jobs, I realized, all these years, my goal was limited and small. I was making myself valuable by being reactive to what the world is throwing at me.

Coming to the USA for Graduate School is not a simple task. So many students graduate every year in India; only a handful get an opportunity to come to the US for education. But, after completing the education, I feel that my goal should have been much bigger. I shouldn’t have stopped at just “Completing MS in the USA”.

My Cousin brother went to the USA, after completing Engineering. So, they helped shape my goal, while I was in College. My parents wanted me to have a good American education.

I realized, my goals could have been much bigger, if my exposure towards life, society was larger and better. I was surrounded by friends, who all had the goal of going to the USA. That was the biggest goal. But today world is a different place. Access to information is at our fingertips. Exposure, which you and I have about the external world, has improved drastically.

When the world has changed a lot, why do you still want to have smaller goals. If your target is to come to the USA for Higher Education, I have following questions for you.

What do you want to do after completing MS?

How do you see yourself, 5 years from now?

Would be happy working for an employer with 9-5 job?

I hope, your goals are much bigger that being an employee with a 9-5 job.

My Suggestions

Don’t limit your goals to just getting a degree. Expand you thinking beyond what you are asked to do by you parents or relatives. If your parents have reached say step 3 in an Economic Life Ladder, then don’t try just to reach Step 4. Why not set your goals to reach Step 8 or beyond.  Make them SMART Goals.

If your dad is a Government employee or small business owner, it’s a big step-up for them to pay for your US education. You might be the first person in the family to plan and study abroad. But, why to limit your goal to a just degree in the USA and a decent paying job. Don’t do the same mistake I did. Set your goals much higher and work towards that.

I haven’t listed any concrete example what your goals beyond a degree and job should be. But, I will leave it to you pick one. But, don’t settle for less. Don’t be reactive to your environment.

Can you list what is your current goal, who influenced it and how you can make it bigger and smarter.

See Also:  The New American Dream. Who Else Want to be Part of It? >>

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  1. Thanks for your impressive suggestions for all who making a higher goals . here i want some suggestions from you for my point of view. i want to do M.S. in computer science and engineering from U.S. After completing masters i want to do the job in U.S. and make money
    for future goals. during the job i want to do PHD also from their. after over a period i would
    like to return in india and settle a concern business.
    kindly suggest what should i do as above plan or should i think on other way?.

    kind regards

    1. Good goals. But it’s not specific enough.

      When you want to start MS How long do you want to work?
      When do you want to start PHD?
      Why not PHD before MS?

      Be specific with time limit.

  2. Nice article… This blog is very informative. I’m following HSB atleast for last few years and but stopped for last 9 months due to my busy schedule. Again I started reading updates from past one month. I still don’t see any change in Raghu’s approach or the way he tries to stress on important factors which are essential for students to survive succeed and realise their dream run in US. I don’t know how he manages his daily schedules but the content what we get in this blog is huge and one shall spend lot of time to publish as a tailor made one.

    And I want share my opinion with students who failed to get admissions in US schools or someone who fail to raise funds or whose dream destination is US but couldn’t manage to realise your dreams…

    Because I’m one who falls in the same category…

    Will post an article about my experiences with the help of Mr. HSB

    1. Thanks for being open about your experience with HSB and thanks for being active again. It takes lot of time indeed. This article took about 4 hours of work from concept ideation to publishing and republishing. please do share your experience.

  3. Great article, I believe everyone should have a passion which will turn into goals and work towards achieving it. God help us all.

  4. I did my engg in Manipal Institute of Tech.

    I just got admit in Michigan Ann Arbor for industrial engg.

    my goal is to complete ms and then do a job for 3 years. after that i want a MBA from Harvard.

  5. Very good post. But I really wished if you could have touched on some strategies for making dreams happen (may be its awaited in your next post :)). It takes nothing to dream but everything to make it happen. And I have been seeing this talk about choosing engineering over medicine, it happens with many agreed (I stand in the same track too). Is that the end? No! As you and me have overcome it, so will everyone if they wish to. I said this just because I still find many people who didn’t get your real intention of that comment. Weigh your interests more than advises. That’s the weigh to go. All this can be done just by asking your self a simple question.

    “WHY NOT ? “

  6. hi..!

    nice motivational talk u did…gud..!!
    well i being a mediocre getting 70% in 12th. and managing 75 in btech…neva ever thought of abroad…
    But u know what….life smetimes brings you an angel who motivates to thnk big…I had mine..! Thanks to that angel…that today i am thanking way beyond what my peers or my family people could even imagine..!

    that is what its all about….MOTIVATION..! 🙂

  7. Hi,

    Indeed aspiring and motivating. But there will be still many thinking how to start up with limited resources and small hurdles which will stop them to move and aspire big….need to have ideas on how to move ahead with limited resources and also for subjects different from medicine and engineering…My Goal and Dream is to manage a huge live concert in US as i am into Events in India and planning to do my masters but still not sure as i hardly find blogs on my subject and scope for it..Please guide..Thanks


    1. You see a problem, I see an opportunity. Instead of saying, I don’t find any blogs in the subject, why not you create a blog and share your learning curve? Instead of looking to find a resource, you be the resources.

      1. Spoon feeding is the thing that comes to my mind reading your above reply. We people have cultivated this habit right from our childhood. Easy access to things restricts us to be our own resource and depend on others.

  8. Hi HSB (would love to address by ur name though),

    An inspirational post. Thought inspiration in the form of physical and virtual presence is abundant, only a few inspire us and push us into acting on them. One such is Mr. Steve Jobs. Like many I didn’t pay attention to Apple thinking it to be a diff league than MS and its products. Little did I know about Jobs then. Few years ago (probably 1 and 1/2 a year ago) I came across the 2005 Stanford commencement speech, and man-o-man it has changed my life now. In a bid to realize my dream, I had quit my high-paying, stressful, servile job of a Engineer Consultant from the major network device manufacturer. I am now joining an organisation where in my journey to realize the dream / goal starts. If it were not for my dreams I would have stayed there as an underdog all my life.
    GOALS and HOPE are the two things that are very critical in a human’s life. They can take you through a coaster ride landing u high or make u land square on ur face. But either way that ride will be adventurous and the lessons learnt are priceless. It puts not only the individual in a higher place, but also the nation and the man-kind.
    Let’s be courageous and pursue our dream. GOALS / DREAMS are good and are to be pursued.

  9. Hello Sir!!
    First of al i would like to thank you. All these days, i was in a bit confusion and not dat confident what i am. Now, i feel better. Thanks for helping me to discover the real ME* in me! 🙂
    BTW, Good post.

  10. Hi HSB,

    Nice post from your end. Seems like all our friends are trying to share their goals and few accepted that they don’t have any and yet to set…. I really appreciate people who said they do not have any goals. Because they all are speaking or writing frankly. Not everyone speaks truth every time. Lets not debate on this…

    Coming to my goals – 1) I use to dream of becoming Geologist in my child-hood since I like geography a lot. But failed due XYZ circumstances. 2) Then started thinking about becoming a cricketer and due to Injury in a zonal match my parents requested (banged in fact) me to take-off this one option from my career prospects. There are few more but not so important to discuss since they are also part of my failed ideasss…..

    So this time after working for 4 successful years in Investment Banking now I set-up a goal to do my MS from good school. But after that I want to set-up an organization in Hyderabad and hire my current Boss (Hari Sadu) and I want to become his BOSS. Guys i’m serious and i’ll make it happen down the line 5 years. Do not count me as immature kid.

    I really want to set-up a company with a very good culture where people should feel proud to work for my organization. Which should be a true Indian brand which represents in International platform. And should be a proper work place for any individual where their role should be challenging and not the environment. Believe me there are MNCs here which lacks all the above menioned qualities. Where productivity drives employees and quality lacks.

    What ever it may be… Lets stop this here and I wish i’ll make this happen in 5 yrs from now.
    Friends just wish me all the best!!!


    1. Good luck Vamsi. It is a good thing to be able to face our disappointments, overcome them and move on rather than living in a world of self pity and blame circumstances around us for the rest of our life which keeps us from progress. I hope you are able to achieve all that you have just described above. I hope you become Hari Sadu’s boss. 🙂

    2. Good Luck Vamsi. I hope and pray that dreams like these come into action soon and the brand India is hoisted high in the sky.

    3. What you prefer as being an L.Y Computer Engineer?
      1) TCS 2-year Job(which i have in my hand) after that MS in USA and at last Business like you described…
      or 2) Direct MS in US and than returning India for last goal…
      I think this is the biggest problem and confusion for student who got placement and had GRE clear with good marks…
      I like if HSB and friends suggest me a good solution ….Thank You

  11. sir your article seems quite motivating to read…
    it would be great if we could keep in touch.
    and you know what i learned from your article– STAY IN TOUCH WITH PEOPLE AIMING HIGH.

  12. Bio-tech….wow…a branch with so much potential. I am glad people are aspiring to dream big. I was just wondering how about setting up such goals even during under-graduation? I don’t quite understand why one needs to wait till the finish to MS degree for a discovery or invention. People may think I am speaking nuts but its true. The main reason students in India don’t really participate in co-curricular/extra-curricular activities is because none of them are passionate about what they do. The classrooms are filled with little parrots who are just trained to take-in whatever the teacher teaches them.

    Realize your passion, then discovery and bigger goals appear before you. In some cases, despite all this fate plays its role. That is when you need to be strong.

    I have discovered a methodology to produce electricity from mud and waste. Also, proposed a strategy for reducing kidney transplant deaths.

    Does this make me exceptional or employed? No, I am currently unemployed, had a rain of rejects for Ph.D last year (I agree my GRE was dreadful), and am on the verge of getting hitched to some XYZ because my lover belongs to a lower caste than mine.

    Yet, I never brooded. I never blamed anyone for the circumstances. Taking so much of pressure also affects your health and I suffer from a chronic disease.

    For those who are reading this post might feel this is a copied Movie story but friends, movies are inspired from real lives and the practicality of problems are of this scale.

    Dream big always but never ever GIVE UP!!!!!!!


      thanks a lot for the inspirations..!!please reveal your secrets about how you manage to keep yourself up after drenching into such circumstances…

  13. Thank you for this post HSB! very well said. My goal in life is to do something for our country, so that it would improve economically. Maybe someday it would be as good as USA or even better! Though we have a huge population, we lack the technology. we still come under the category ‘developing nation’. This is because of the Brain-drain! I am from Biotechnology background and so i am looking forward to pursue my Higher education in USA to get a better exposure to technology and i would definitely come back to India and implement the methods. Although i cannot change the whole world, i would be satisfied that i have contributed a little for the nation’s growth!

  14. Awesome Post. Goals need to be set higher. But many people fear. Many of them don’t realize their potential. But I have a question.

    How does one tackle some obstacles that come across in achieving our goal. I know that I dont make sense in blaming situations around me, But these questions naturally pose as a obstacle in achieving our goal.

    Most of them have goals that are high enough, but something is holding back them. How to break this and come out ? One way to come out is reading such blog posts. Experiences of others is always motivating. HSB has kind of redefined the way I view world. If this post wouldn`t have been written, there wouldn`t have been any thought process of setting goals for many of us.

    1. Arun – at some point in your life, you will have an idea, dream and goal. But, situations around you will not make it favorable to get there. You will be forced to make a decision, that will take you away from the goal. Thats when you should decide to take the path of least resistance
      (follow the crowd) or stand out.

      1. Arun, its 100% true.. Goals are set by the people and they do try reaching that goals but they are again forced to do others decisions.. No one succeeds at first but trying for it makes it an easier task.. I truly believe “Failure is the key to success” Yes it true, if the lost one is tried again we will learn more than we know… So, never give up n never follow others decisions, if ur goal is firm…

  15. this article is something that will always let me ponder over my thoughts and ambitions again and again……………great one…

  16. Hey it was superb & my goal includes doing my MS in US in aeronautical & i want to open my own company but in 2 stages first one is to make money so that i can open my own plane building company so has to fulfill my dream or goal………

  17. My goal is to become a serious researcher and after some years of experience and knowledge come back to India and join some research laboratory or organization, possibly ISRO or BARC.

    I can proudly say that this has been my goal in life since class 9, and got stronger in college when I got introduced to Richard Feynman.

  18. well not every one studying MS in USA is just looking for a job with hefty salary.

    I am not looking for a job. I have both short term and long term goals. I am planning on a start up in next 5 years. I have both concrete and challenging goals. Did I said when will I reach my goal. 30 years.

    You will know me once I accomplish my goals.

  19. Dear HSB

    You certainly have posted a blog worth debating. You see it has been an age of ‘Survival of the Fittest’ since the beginning of human race. All people don’t have the same IQ, don’t have the same resources, don’t have the same motivation. And that’s what makes everyone unique.
    Steve Jobs was a visionary; he brought a revolution with his ideas, ideas which are unique to him, ideas which could be duplicated.
    Every person attempts to fulfill his desires which are largely influenced by his family, surroundings and morale level. But would it make the earth worth living if all people start dreaming the same, work towards the same, develop same intelligence?
    Humans have the instinct of competition and the moment one sees another getting infront, he would make his best efforts to surpass him. So its better to let go off such a irrelevant subject as it would have no effect on some while some might overdo !

    1. Rightly said “All people don’t have the same IQ, don’t have the same resources, don’t have the same motivation. And that’s what makes everyone unique.”

    2. Rightly pointed out by HSB, as every one is unique – their ideas must not be same.
      Yes, you are a competitor – whether you take part in the competition or not.
      An attempt may fail, but don’t fail to make an attempt.

  20. This is the case of most Indian aspirants. It is mainly because of the education system, environment and the student attitude.

    In US, at the age of 16, every student is independent. This is an advantage and at the same time has demerits too. An average US student can decide whether he wants to be like Steve Jobs or JFK or Warren Buffet at the age of 16. However, he can also change the course and wish to be like Jack the ‘Ripper’ (demerit of US System).

    In India, the case is entirely different. We study all the subjects as much as we can in our High schools dreaming to be like Abdul Kalam, Narayanmoorthy or TATA(even before knowing their history and career). And at the college, we will chose an area which the ‘senior at the neighbor’ or ‘a relative senior’ are employed in/excelled at. We will be independent only if we get placed after UG. Also, parents have a big impact on our career (which is presumably decreasing nowadays). Some parents make their children chose the field they wanted to or dreamed of. So a child who dreamed of becoming Abdul Kalam may be in reality only a ‘Inspector Balram’ or a ‘glorified’ Central Govt. Employee. Getting a Central Govt.job is tough, but the aspirant wished to be a renowned Scientist. The merit in this system is virtually nobody will become Jack the Ripper as ‘no parents’ will make it happen. However, there will be only a few Narayanamoorthys, few Kalams whereas in US, there will be many Steve Jobs, Bill Gates etc.

    We are morally bind. I don’t say it is wrong but it is not always appropriate. We don’t send our parents on world tours when they age. We take care of them and feel happiness in it. Most of us have ‘biological parents’ and not ‘legal parents'(not meant to offend). We live with family (wife, children) and hesitate to leave them for our career prospects. This binding keeps us away from thinking more (limit us). We get settled at young age. For Americans, some say life starts at 40. Our life ends at 40. :). A carpenter in US goes for world tours, rides a Mercedes at least once in his lifetime. Carpenter in India never get a chance to see even other parts in India but he makes his son do it. May be his son will ride a Mercedes.

    So as to conclude, we are blessed with parents who can support us, an education system which can make us take whatever field and excel it. If we at the same time, be independent at least in our career prospects, we can more Steve Jobs, more Kalams than any other nation.

    This is just my view and ‘may be’ not correct to some or more. I apologize for the same. Again, thanks to HSB for putting his career on the post. I also, with HSB wish all the junior aspirants from India to plan smart, dream big, be more and do more.

      1. hi hsb, u knw wt ,i had the same track as urs till engineering,…evn i thought to quit engineering and go for medicine but later ….the same case “got used to reality ” 🙁

  21. Most of the Students who do masters in USA would be looking at a job.. none of the friends i have met would say “I want to Discover this, Invent this.. and Start a Company”.. they are happy getting a job with a heft salary…

    For me a Big goal would be to Discover a new Drug or may be even start a Biotech Startup…I would definitely work for it and hope there are few ..

    Though the Money is a big thing in life, it should not be the only thing in life… 🙂

    1. Nice topic but comparing Indians with Americans is absurd.Totally different circumstances in both countries-social and economic.That is the reason why many deserving Indians end up in jobs because that is the only alternate left for them to remain in US unless they want to come back to India. To be honest after spending couple of years in US only some compelling reason would attract some one back to India.

      To make the topic little broad based can some one tell me how to start a Company in the US under the existing Visa laws during Graduation or after that? An advantage to Americans. Which category of Visa needs to be applied for? I know one can start a Company on OPT(12 months ) but what after that?Now some one not write about $500K or $1million investment Visa opportunities.

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