What goals should I set for myself in life?
What goals should I set for myself in life, or rather… what goals should I set if I don’t know what I want? These are surely questions that have crossed your mind at one time or another in your life.
First of all, you need to know that people who set goals are much more likely to produce the results they desire, than those who simply “work hard”. It doesn’t matter if you are young, old, unemployed, or disabled, you are concerned.
But before you set goals, you need to understand the different types of goals that exist.
There are two broad categories: time-based goals and goals based on different areas of your life. And these two types of goals will help you find the right goals for your life.
But before we do so, let us ask ourselves this simple question:
What is an objective?
The question may seem ridiculous but it is not. Let’s first look at the word “objective”. Many people believe that an objective is something extraordinary and important. That achieving a goal must be accompanied by a significant change in finances, living a successful life, or changing society in some way.
All this is obviously not true.
These kinds of goals, like those mentioned earlier, are generic and impersonal. Moreover, they are often the same objectives that society or those around us unconsciously propose to us. A more personal goal would be, for example, to run 1 kilometer every day if you want to lose weight, or simply to train for running.
The mistake of setting too many goals
Theoretically, there is no limit to the number of goals you can set for yourself. Even so, there are only 24 hours in a day and if your goals take too much time you won’t be able to do everything.
If, for example, you want to start a new startup, that goal will take years and take up a lot of your time every day. Plus, because it is very complex, it will prevent you from spending time on other things.
If your goals are simpler, you can afford to achieve several in one day. If your goals are or become complex, you will need to reduce the number of goals.
We will now look at time-based goals.
Part A: The 4 types of time-based goals
When you set a goal, the time you allow yourself to reach it greatly influences the result you will get when you get out.
There are 4 types of goals:
- Life goals
- Long-term objectives
- Short-term objectives
- The springboard objectives
When people say they have “too many goals/goals” they are mostly talking about the first two: long-term goals and life goals. These are the only types of goals where you need to be careful not to get overwhelmed.
Of course, if you have too many short-term goals, for example, you will also feel overwhelmed and will probably fail to accomplish some of them. That said, you can always try them again later, when you have a better understanding of your personal limits.
Unfortunately, this is not the case with long-term or life goals, which will take up all your time and whose outcome will remain uncertain for a long time. This will not allow you to move on or realize your mistakes easily.
1. Life goals
Life goals are goals that will take you from 10 years to a lifetime to achieve.
The best way to find these life goals is to project yourself into the future, and imagine what you want to become:
- What has your future accomplished for you?
- Is it happy with what it has?
- Is he single or has he started a family?
- Is he living comfortably or just comfortably?
- What do people around you say about your future?
When you imagine the future version of yourself, you are indirectly reflecting your life goals. These are goals that you have always had within you, and that are precious to you. If you reach them, then it will allow you to make this vision of the future a reality and transform yourself into that person.
Of course my life goals are different today than they may be in 10 or 20 years from now. It is normal that they evolve over time. But this change will not happen quickly. Maybe in 5 years you will want to change your life goals a little bit, and that’s a good thing.
For example, to become a millionaire thanks to my own 100% natural clothing company.
These life goals encompass all the other goals you will set for yourself in your life. Of course, you will need to set both long term and short term goals to start acting and moving forward today.
2. Long-term goals
These are your most powerful goals. You need to set a time limit to reach them: typically between 5 and 10 years.
Remember that most people overestimate what they can do with short-term goals, but underestimate what can be accomplished with long-term goals. Unlike life goals, long-term goals are more specific and require a certain level of planning to achieve the desired result by a given time frame.
For example, to have set aside €45,000 over 10 years to launch my business.
3. Short-term goals
Short-term objectives… are not always very short. It can be a goal to be achieved in a month, 6 months or even a year. These are goals that are supported by stepping stone goals, with the sole purpose of achieving your long-term or life goals.
let take our example “saving €45,000 by 2026 in order to start my business”. Your short term goals may be to be able to set money aside by finishing paying off your small loans by the end of the year. Or to consume less and perhaps become minimalist.
These short-term goals can be renewable every year (like saving money). Another example, such as paying off your small credits may also require some sacrifice, but unless you have huge debts, you should be able to achieve these goals using stepping stone goals. Similarly, becoming minimalist requires that you get rid of anything you don’t use or could do without.
4. Springboard Goals
These are transitional objectives. Just think of them as steps towards achieving greater goals. They are the building blocks that help you build your short-term goals and then your long-term and life goals.
These are things you will do every month, or all at once.
Again using the same example, let’s imagine that you are looking to put aside money every month to pay off your credits, so that you can set aside for your future business. There are a number of stepping stone goals that will help you achieve this goal in the short term :
- You can set a budget every month.
- You can cycle to work instead of driving, or carpool with your colleagues.
- Sell appliances and items that you don’t use at home.
- Limit yourself to certain things: Get a cheaper phone plan, make your coffee at home instead of buying it from the coffee machine, eat out less or go to the movies less often.
This is of course not an article to manage your budget, so I won’t go into detail on all the ways to save your money. You just need to understand that these stepping stones, once they are clearly defined, will help you achieve your short-term goals (whether it’s paying off your credit or whatever), as long as you’re willing to put some effort into it.
Once your credits are paid off, you know that all you need to do is save ~210€/month over 10 years to get your 25.000€ and start your business.
Not setting enough goals
We talked about the mistake of setting too many goals, and here is the opposite. Not setting enough goals. Because yes, not setting enough goals is problematic in itself. Let’s take John as an example.
John wants to advance in his career. So he sets a lot of short-term goals for his long-term goal of having a better job within 5 years.
His short-term goals are :
- To increase his sales by 20% for next year.
- Read 3 books on leadership/personal development per month for one year.
- To train in sales in his field of activity.
- Learn communication tools such as the Gordon method to motivate and become more efficient at work.
- benifit of a promotion before the end of the year.
These are all very good goals, and John may even be able to get his promotion and reach his sales figures. Still… it’s all about work! Where’s the rest of it?
Well, John has no relationship goals, no health goals, no spiritual goals, no passion goals, so you get the picture.
John needs to be a little more balanced in his goals if he wants to lead a serene and fulfilled life. Which brings us to the 6 goal areas.
Part B: The 6 goal areas in your life
This diagram above, called “the wheel of life” in coaching, explains that we are all made up of several major “categories” in our lives. We can then choose to focus a few goals in a single category, or we can put a goal in each one. It all depends on your priorities as an individual.
That said, to be “balanced” you should diversify your goals a bit, and not focus on just one area. In any case, the final decision is yours and yours alone. Don’t let anyone dictate your goals to you.
Here it’s not just a matter of cutting a cake and putting equal parts in each section, but of making your choices based on your life. The important thing is not to completely neglect any one part, but some may be more important than others depending on your values.
So take the time you need to define your goals and divide them into these categories. These goals in these different areas are connected to the time-related goals. For example, “In shorten term what goals would I hope to achieve in the area of my health / finances / etc.?”.
1. Career goals
This is mainly what people think about when they set goals. In fact, they are the first things that come to mind when you think about your goals, among the different areas of your life.
Career goals are for example :
- To be promoted
- Changing jobs in the same trade
- Changing careers
- Improve communication
- Obtain a specific prize / award
- Start your own business
- Find a small side business to earn more money
- Become an expert in the X or Y branch
- Increase your creativity
- Earn more money for you and your business
2. Financial objectives
Here is another well-known area. Many people want to make more money and are willing to take their time to do so. To reach your financial goals, you will need to budget, change your spending habits, save as much as possible and, fortunately, earn more money.
As an aside, France is a country that would be in the Orange (and in transition to Green) on the Dynamic Spiral. It is therefore natural that the majority of French people are interested in the first two areas (career and finance).
Financial goals include :
- Contributing for retirement
- Become an owner
- Repaying your home loan
- Any major purchase
- Have money set aside for emergencies
- No more debts
- Saving enough money to change jobs and do what you like (even if it pays less)
3. Personal goals
Personal goals are those that will make you a better person. This is not a value judgment. For example, knowing only one language is not a problem. But if you feel that you need to learn another language, then that will become a goal that will make you better.
Understand that this is about evolving in what you want to evolve, not following standards.
Personal goals include :
- Learning a foreign language
- Writing a book
- Learn to read faster
- Learn new skills
- Read more books/articles on a theme of your choice
- Create a blog or online course
- Improve your body language / self-confidence
- Start a morning routine
- Improve behaviour in certain situations
- Travel/Visit certain countries or destinations
Educational goals are linked to learning. When you were (or still are) in school/university, learning is essential to be able to launch into the career you have decided upon. Later in life, it doesn’t seem as important.
Yet you are wrong if you think that at 50, you have nothing left to learn in your line of work. Educational goals often intersect with personal and career goals. But educational goals after school focus mostly on what you need to know for your career/job/future employment.
Since this can vary greatly depending on the career you are pursuing, I will not list the various educational goals you may want to achieve.
4. Physical / health goals
Common objectives in this area are :
- Keep your vital signs in the average (blood pressure, cholesterol…)
- Stay slim and active
- Play sports regularly
- Achieve a fitness goal
- Keep your immune system at its full potential
- Get enough sleep at night to be fit during the day.
- To live forever. Or at least live in good health until you die.
5. Spiritual Objectives
What can you do to give meaning to your life? This can be religious goals, or contributing to society or the world at large. It can include anything beyond yourself and those around you.
Spiritual goals can be :
- To volunteer regularly
- Praying in a place of worship
- Be more attentive to the world around you
- Teaching a student
- Meditate daily
- Giving money to the needy
- Taking a little more interest in your impact on the environment
6. Relational objectives
Relationship goals are clear enough for everyone. They are the goals you set for yourself, mainly towards those around you and your friends.
Some relationship goals:
- Meeting friends / Going out with friends on a regular basis
- Making time for your children/spouse
- Have more free time
- Spend more time with your family
- Find your half
- Having children
- Saving for your children’s goals
- Maintain good relations with your parents
The final word
Now you know a little bit more about your different types of goals, and maybe it has even lifted a veil on what you would like to become.
Take a moment to take stock of your 4 types of time-based goals as well as those in the different areas of your life. I am repeating myself, but it is essential that you take the time to clarify your goals. They should not be blurred or vague in your mind, but precise and time-based.
Indeed “Earning money” is not a goal, while “Earning 200€ more per month before a year” is one.
So, what goals do you plan to start this year ?