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You’ve got ambition, and you’re not afraid to use it.
Everyone has their heart set on something in this day and age – whether it’s running a marathon or starting up an entrepreneur’s dream job.
And don’t take small steps lightly either! With the right mindset and planning, you can start achieving your goal wherever you are in your journey.
What are Life Goals?
Achieving life goals are more than just operating purely on ‘survival mode’. Unlike daily routines or short-term objectives, these goals drive our behaviors over the long run.
Not to limit it to its psychological definition or clinical construct, life goals are like compasses that help us validate these experiences with our values.
Everyone has an ambition—and with good reason! The purpose drives us to seek out success and happiness in our lives, no matter the form they take or how big of goals we may set for ourselves. It’s not always just about making money.
Nature of Goals
Goals are like the building blocks for your life. They provide clarity and direction when you need them most. It also helps keep us on track through all those times where things feel fuzzy or unclear about our plans.
Goals give meaning and significance to each milestone in this crazy journey called adulthood.
Goals are boundless. This results from careful consideration, planning, and intention of what you envision for your life (dare to dream bigger?).
Goals are reasonable. You need to have a vision of what you’d want to be or want to achieve in this lifetime. When you think about it, it can get pretty intimidating.
To avoid overwhelm, you can break these down into smaller goals. Treat it like a marathon—not a sprint.
Goals are different from objectives. If you wanted to save money, a plan would be like ‘I’ll save three months worth of my salary by the X year(s)’. An objective would be ‘I’ll save PHP 10,000 every X period until I reach X amount by the end of the year’.
Goals are not resolutions. As opposed to long-term goals, resolutions aim for instant gratification. When you say goals, it boils down to planning and commitment through the ups and downs of life.
Reasons to set goals
It gives your pursuits a purpose.
A renowned motivational speaker, Myles Munroe, once said that man’s greatest tragedy is not death but a life without a purpose. And in this sense, goals are meant to help you find meaning in your life’s journey.
One way to build this is to plot a 5 to 10-year plan on what you want your life to look like. Doing this places a ‘timeline’ on your dreams to drive you to commit and achieve these pursuits. Putting these goals into action gives us an insight into the why, how, and what.
It helps us assess our progress.
Goals are a great way to see how you’re doing and whether or not your behaviors need adjustment. Feedback helps us know when we’ve reached our destination, so that’s why goals provide this type of information too!
Studies have shown it releases dopamine in people who get rewards for meeting their goals and get more out of life.
Furthermore, by allowing feedback on what actions led you there, plans help align or re-align with the desired future self through a more transparent communication between oneself with one’s behavior.
It gives you motivation.
It’s so satisfying when you can help your team move toward a common goal. When working as part of the group, team members have a clear vision about what they’re all aiming for.
There is nothing more motivating than contributing constructively together while feeling like we accomplished something great.
It brings out the happiness in the peaks and troughs of life.
The pursuit of meaningful goals is a critical element of positive psychology. It includes things like relationships with other people or animals (including pets), engagement at work—anything you’re passionate about doing because it makes your life worthwhile.
Achieving these types of accomplishments will give us something worthy to strive for. This happiness theory suggests that striving can boost well-being levels if our efforts align with who we are deep down inside. Moreover, when there’s the purpose behind every action taken, all related aspects become much more prosperous.
You are not dissuaded from settling for a mediocre life.
Setting goals is an essential first step in deciding what you want out of life. If things seem worth achieving, then it’s never too late to set them as your priorities for tomorrow.
Types of Goals in Life
The following are the goal categories you should focus on when setting goals and objectives. They will help increase your productivity, achieve tremendous success, and live a balanced life!
1.) Immediate goals
Considered short-term goals, these are like little milestones along life’s path that make reaching more significant dreams seem doable.
When we have something tangible right before us, it motivates us to keep striving despite the challenges. These smaller units help put everything into perspective and can be an excellent way to journey towards their vision.
Some examples may include:
- Save at least 10 percent of your monthly income.
- Read one book about investing.
- Save up a specific portion of your income every month to fund future vacations.
2.) Extensive goals
Do you have a long-term goal? It’s something that requires more than just the next few minutes. A major life decision, healing process, or future project can be considered “long term.”
Achieving goals takes time and effort. But if we don’t set our minds on these things now, when will they get done.
Think about your dreams for yourself (or those close to us), how do you think moving forward would look like? These are the types of goals you should be plotting out for under long-term goals.
Here are some of the long-term goals you can aim for:
3.) Lifelong goals
Lifetime goals are the types of things you plan to get done before your life runs out. They can happen at any point in time, early adulthood, or old age. They’re different from short-term lifetime achievement.
During one’s career, it might also occur when there is more flexibility due to financial security or secure employment elsewhere. Lifelong goals may change over decades rather than days.
Here are some of these goals you can implement:
- Climbing the tallest mountain in your country.
- Buy and develop a 200-hectare land and turn it into a farm.
- Travel to Iceland with your family
4.) Health goals
The most important thing you can do to stay healthy and happy is eating well, exercise regularly (even if it’s just walking around the block), or get all of your sleep needs to be met each night.
These things will help keep stress levels down so that you can power through your goals in life with a healthy body.
Some health goals you can use are:
- Keeping a bedtime schedule.
- Stop smoking.
- Have a regular plan to go to the gym every week.
5.) Professional goals
Career goals are the roadmap to a more fulfilling professional life. Regardless of where you are in your career, it is crucial for individuals who want to grow with their work or start fresh on new grounds after retirement to fulfill these goals.
Achieving the desired outcome starts by developing clear objectives while considering all aspects, including personal values, education and experience, and lifelong pursuits.
Examples for these types of goals are:
- Earn the highest form of educational attainment of your chosen degree.
- Achieve top management within seven years.
- Accomplish superb and competent leadership and job performance metrics within five years.
6.) Money goals
Financial goals are a great way to take control of your finances. The first step in setting them is figuring out what’s essential and affordable for you with short-term and long-term considerations.
Creating a financial goal would vastly affect how much money you invest into your savings account over time.
Here are top financial goals to help you get started:
- Stick to a spending plan.
- Grow monthly income by 20 percent over the six months.
- Pay off debt X within three months.
7.) Family goals
Setting family goals is vital to establishing balance and well-being on the home front.
It’s also an excellent way of spending time with those we love most, so it makes sense that these types of objectives would help us achieve our desired outcomes!
Here are family goals you can implement for your own:
- Take a family vacation at least once a year abroad.
- Have a family bonding schedule at least once every week.
- Save X amount every month intended for family vacations.
8.) Personal improvement goals
To be the best versions of ourselves, many people set personal goals to achieve this. Achieving these lofty but achievable dreams takes commitment.
Deep-seated questions like ‘What do I want?’, ‘How much time am I willing invest in pursuing my passion(es)?’ and ‘Who might help me along on this journey?’ are some you can contemplate on.
Here are some examples under this category:
- Waking up at 7 a.m. and going to bed at 10 p.m. every day.
- Following a schedule to achieve X goals within X weeks.
- Persistently follow a gym schedule to reduce weight to 20 percent within three months.
9.) Business pursuits goals
As a business owner, it’s vital to set suitable types of goals for your company. To achieve this, you must determine what vision and mission are best suited for long-term and short-term success.
Use measurable objectives within that goal framework to help you achieve realistic metrics for your business’ growth over time.
Business goals may include:
- Create a lead generation that generates X percentage per month.
- Build and promote a new product.
- Find a new market to enter.
How to Set and Achieve Your Life Goals
The process of setting goals helps you choose where you want to go in life.
Precisely knowing what your ideal future looks like and working on a plan to achieve this goal best becomes easier to do every day as distractions become less prevalent.
When it doesn’t align with your priorities, you can quickly pinpoint activities that derail you from your journey.
Step 1: Determine your Big Picture & short-term goals
Setting goals is what keeps top athletes and critical business people functioning at optimum levels. They are successful because they’ve repeatedly been setting standards for themselves and their skills.
It’s the hidden ‘key’ to their motivation and making the most of their time developing their assets with whatever resources they have on hand.
Before you get too excited and wing it, here are some pro guidelines to help you achieve your goals without being overwhelmed.
a.) See the ‘big picture. This is the vision casting where all kinds of goals are hinged. It’s what you usually think of when someone asks, ‘Where do you see yourself in the next ten years?’. Look through your lifelong goals and see what and where your quest will be.
b.) From here, break these into smaller goals you can accomplish in a chunk of time. These usually fall within a weekly, monthly, or yearly target.
Step 2: Set your metrics for success
After you’ve settled your ‘big picture and short-term goals, you can plot your progress by reviewing and updating your metrics. You can plot these out with an electronic or manual diary to check your journey from time to time.
If the short-term plans are not giving you the results you wanted, you can create new ones and see if it will work better to get you to your ‘big picture faster.
Step 3: Create SMART goals
Creating SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound)1 sets the expectations for achieving your objectives and still being motivated to keep going.
Your goals should be meaningful, relevant, attainable, realistic, and achievable within a given timeframe.
For example, ‘I want to become a millionaire‘ is too broad a goal. Using SMART goals and turning them into something like ‘I want to earn my first million by age 25 using XYZ method’ is more realistic.
Step 4: Write your goals based on level of priority
Writing your goals down means your intention to see them through. That’s why goals that are not registered are just wishful thinking.
Are you feeling overwhelmed after writing one goal after another? Here’s where prioritization comes in.
Think of the Pareto principle: What 20 percent of these goals deliver 80 percent results? You can schedule a timeline for these goals and prioritize those that give you the best results.
Place your written goals where you can see them. It would be a source of motivation for you (and your team) when times are tough.
It will also remind you to regularly check whether you’re hitting them or need some tweaking to make it more achievable and in line with your pace.
A 45-year old marathoner may not have the same vigor and goal plan as a 25-year old.
If this is a team, you need to brainstorm and have everyone pitch their ideas. It’s best to have a shared vision to bring clarity to your goals and mission for the company.
Ask deep questions and allow for open communication where they are not judged for throwing in unconventional ideas.
Step 5: Take action
Goals without action are merely dreams. If you want to achieve a fit and healthy body, you need to stick to the plan, dedicate a schedule around it, and want it to happen in your life one step at a time.
Don’t take the shortcut, or you will miss the lessons along the way! And the more time you waste away, the longer you are stuck in whatever life you have at present.
During the initial run of your goals, you may feel pumped and ready to take all the goals in one huge ‘gulp’. Don’t ‘bite off more than you can chew’ to avoid burnout and discouragement.
You can set a realistic timeframe to achieve these goals and pull some breaks in between to avoid this. When you don’t discipline yourself to take breaks in between, there’s no point in kicking a dead horse to make it run again.
Step 6: Learn to embrace the obstacles
Life is hard—but if you know the challenges ahead, it will make it easier. Learn to ‘mitigate’ risks by anticipating the worst.
When you prepare for the worst-case scenario, it won’t have as big of an impact on you, and you’ll be able to go through the challenges to achieve your ‘big picture’ goal.
Have an accountability buddy if you can find one. This person or group of people act as your cheerleader, encouragement, and teacher to get you to your goals faster.
Strategies for Achieving Life Goals
Setting goals can be a daunting task, but the process of putting them is worth it. You’ll know where you have to concentrate your efforts and quickly spot any distractions that might get in your way.
Create a goal framework
The importance of aligning your goals with what you consider essential will make them more meaningful, and meaning is regarded as a crucial part of happiness.
Self-reflection on the values that drive an individual through life can help create intrinsic or extrinsic personal successes (Kasser 2001; Ryan et al.,2001).
When we achieve these successful outcomes, they have a more significant emotional impact than just luck or coincidence.
Don’t be distracted by the challenges
We can be dissuaded and give up when it becomes tricky.
But the way to overcome this is to avoid thinking of the adverse outcomes and focus on what it would look like when you achieve your ‘big picture goal.
Make sure to create clear and actionable goals
You may be too excited and create multiple goals on a whim. But let the dust settle and sift through it.
Are they clear and actionable? Is it realistic within the timeframe that you have set?
These questions will guide you to take concrete steps to turn your ‘big vision’ goal into a reality using your available resources.
And if your goals seem too lofty or easily achievable, you can make more challenging goals to motivate you enough to pursue them.
Find alternative routes
There is more than one way to skin a cat. A goal works the same way. Find the best routes that deliver the most efficient results without discounting unconventional ones.
Run through your goals and see which ones will need some tweaking. Be sure to journal these so you can assess your performance metrics.
Create a contingency plan
You will face multiple challenges along the way—unless you have a contingency plan in place.
A contingency plan will allow you to anticipate the ‘worse case scenario’ and handle it with more ease than you would without it. Without it, you may find yourself overwhelmed and discouraged.
Meditate on the positive outcomes
Any self-deprecating talk will only hinder you from achieving your goals. Your doubts and fears are likely to get in the way as the challenges grow harder through time.
When this happens, you will need to re-focus on the discipline, being accountable for your success and failures, and the big vision to get you through it.
Be resilient and know that it’s part of the process
Despite having a framework and plan in place, you will need to motivate yourself more than you’ll find it from accountability partners.
Emotional stress and disengagement are often the results of negative self-feedback. You can do better by staying on course and move forward through your sub-goals. In the end, you benefit from the discipline and takeaways from the process.
As your priorities change along the way, you may find success and failures interlaced in your pursuits. Depending on the circumstances, you can vary some of these goals to bring it to your pacing or make it more challenging.
Nothing is ever black and white when handling goals, so a bit of flexibility is anticipated as you proceed on your journey to fulfilling your lifelong dreams.