As we navigate through life, it’s important for us to have goals. It may, however, be difficult to determine what goals you should set for yourself, or even more important, how to set those goals. Let’s talk about how to set goals in life and how to achieve them.
Let me begin by saying that everyone should have goals. Goals guide our lives. Without goals, we are wandering aimlessly through life with no clear direction. And let’s face it, who wants to do that?
What are goals?
We use the word goal often, but have you ever really taken the time to reflect on the true meaning of a goal? The most simplistic definition that I found for the word goal is the one I liked best. Merriam-Webster.com defines a goal as, “the end toward which effort is directed”.
Goals are the object of a person’s ambition; an aim. Goals are the things that you are trying to achieve. They are what gives your life purpose and meaning.
Why are goals important?
Maybe you’re thinking, “Why are goals important”? Well, here are a few reasons why:
Goals motivate you.
Setting goals motivates you to do something. If you set goals, you’re more likely to be actively working toward those objectives. You’re likely to spend less time idly wasting days away.
Goals hold you accountable.
Goals are a way to hold yourself accountable. You take ownership of your goals and ultimately you become responsible for the outcome.
Goals help you focus.
People who have goals tend to have something to focus on. If you’re actively working towards reaching your goals, you have the end game in mind; so every move you make is done with intention and purpose. I found this article on Forbes.com that talks all about how having goals improves your focus.
Goals give you direction.
Goals help you to know which way you are going. You tend to plan for your goals, which helps you pinpoint the means of reaching your targets.
Goals help you track your progress.
When you have goals, you track your progress to see how you’re doing and to determine if you need to make changes to reach your goal. Having goals requires self-reflection, which is always a good thing.
Goals give you personal satisfaction.
When you set and make progress towards your goals, you get a feeling of accomplishment and personal satisfaction.
How to Set Goals in Life
So now that we’ve talked about why having goals is important, let’s talk about setting goals. Just as having goals is important, it’s also important that you’re intentional about setting your goals, especially if you want them to be achievable. Here are some suggestions to help you set goals in life:
1. Think of Something You Want to Do Or Work Towards
Have you taken the time to think about what you want out of life? What are the things you want to accomplish? What do you want for your family? What are your career objectives? What personal milestones do you want to achieve? All of these things are goals. Take some time to think of what you want to actively work towards in life to decide the goals you need to create for yourself.
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2. Write it Down
After you have thought about the things you want out of life, write those things down. This is a very important step that you should not skip. Writing things down is great for committing things to memory and for making things a little more real. I’m horrible about remembering things, so writing things down gives me a point of reference. So, find yourself a journal or notebook and explicitly write down your desired dreams and goals. You’re more likely to remember and work towards your goals if you write them down.
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3. Set Short-Term Goals that Lead to Your Long-Term Goals
If you have set goals that are huge and are seemingly impossible, good for you! Those are my favorite types of goals. However, it’s important to be realistic about those things and the steps it takes to reach them. To prevent yourself from abandoning those bigger goals along the way, I suggest that you set short-term goals that lead to your long-term goals?
For example, if your goal is to become the president of a college or university, there are a series of things that you must do to increase the likelihood of you realizing that dream. You would need the proper education, skills, and experience even to consider landing such a role. So, you can create some short-term goals that would put you in the position to eventually become an ideal candidate for that role.
4. Imagine Yourself Accomplishing the Goal
Vision boards are really popular right now. Do you know why? They help you to imagine yourself accomplishing your goals and ambitions. If vision boards aren’t your thing, maybe try journaling about you achieving your goals? What would that look like? Would you be happy? Proud? Who would be celebrating with you?
Imagining yourself at the finish line motivates you to actively pursue your goals. You should do this often to keep yourself encouraged along the way.
5. Tell a Trusted Person
There are a lot of mixed feelings about whether or not you should tell a trusted person about your goals. However, I think that telling a trusted friend is an important part of you reaching your goals. That person can help hold you accountable for working towards your dreams. While I do believe that telling the wrong person can be somewhat detrimental to your success, I also think that having at least one person to serve as an accountability partner can be very helpful.
Read next: The Importance of Friendship in Our Lives
6. Talk to Someone Who Has Achieved the Goal(s) You Are Trying to Reach
While you’re working towards your goals, try to find someone who has actually reached the goal that you are trying to reach. You might be able to gain some valuable information about how to get where you are trying to go. Likewise, you may be able to avoid some pitfalls along the way.
Talking to someone who has achieved the goal that you are trying to reach can be very telling. Heck, you may even learn that you no longer want to work towards that goal after talking to someone who is doing (or has done) the thing that you want to do.
7. Decide How You Will Celebrate Reaching the Goal
My husband calls me the Queen of Celebration. And you know what, I wear that crown with honor! I think it’s so important to celebrate successes, big or small. The extent of the celebration needs to be in line with the accomplishments, but celebrations are a great way to motivate you and give you a sense of pride while you’re in the trenches working on your goals.
As you hit certain milestones along your journey, plan little celebrations. And, as encouragement, go ahead and decide how you will celebrate accomplishments that big goal!
8. Understand That It’s Okay to Abandon Your Goals
Lastly, remember that we are humans. We change our minds about things. That includes your dreams and goals. You may wake up one day and realize that the dreams and goals you had once set for yourself are no longer important to you. You may decide to abandon your goals. That’s okay. You can still look back and see how much you have learned along the way and use those new skills and experiences to cultivate your new dreams. Whatever you do, don’t beat yourself up. Take some time to thoughtfully review your dreams and goals and revise them to meet your current desires.
Read next: How to Forgive Yourself After a Big Mistake
Life Goals Examples
Now that we’ve talked about why goals are important and the steps that you need to take to reach your goals, let’s discuss some examples of life goals. Let me add this disclaimer: this is not an exhaustive list of goals, nor do you need to select life goals from this list. This list is simply a way to help you start thinking about the type of goals you should set for yourself.
- Lose weight
- Eat healthy
- Get more sleep
- Start your own business
- Make a career switch
- Get out of debt
- Save for retirement
- Forgive someone
- Travel more
- Learn a new language
Positive Psychology, How to Set and Achieve Life Goals the Right Way
Betterup, How to Set Goals and Achieve Them