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Goals In Life – How to Set Goals

goals in life

Goals in life – a list of goals to set for yourself

Dreaming is a natural part of being humans; we all have dreams of all kinds. But are those dream goals in life, or do they stay in the oneiric realm?

It all depends on whether you want to accomplish the goals you set for yourself or just keep on romanticizing with no actions.

Goal setting (or a strategic method to plan your objectives) is the secret to materializing your dreams. And therefore, living a wholesome life where you can enjoy those desires and achieve a sense of fulfillment.

However, setting and committing to goals is not as easy as it sounds. Not everyone has the innate ability to program objectives clearly, and stick to them.

It takes practice and more importantly –like we mentioned-, strategy.

That’s why a practical guide for learning how to set goals in life is a game-changer for many people. And you can be one of those people!

If you are struggling with procrastination, the search for purpose, depression, frustration, or just to keep up with your regular habits… Then this article is for you.

But before we move on to the practical part, let’s start with some concepts first.

Meaning and importance of goal setting

Nowadays –particularly within digital reality, we all endure a lot of pressure when it comes to being successful and achieving goals.

Where does all this pressure and need to show (and demand) one accomplishment after another comes from?

Well, from the accelerated and over-exposed world we live in.

Everybody is showing only the best of themselves and competing like never before. The market is overloaded, and everyone is disposable.

That makes us feel a bit like no matter what we do, we are never enough.

But living this way, with no actual purpose other than surviving and competing with others, will make you live in torment.

The true goal of setting goals (one goal above them all?) is so that you can live a happy and fulfilled life. It may sound a bit hippie, but putting it simply, that’s what it is.

Having a purpose or an accomplishment to reach makes the whole journey more enjoyable… Or at least, the struggle won’t seem so pointless and endless.

According to the Angstron philosophy, it’s not about how productive you can be, but about if that productivity takes you where you want to be.

And if you ask me, that makes a lot of sense.

In that sense, formulating and writing your goals in a segmented format is crucial to keep on that path… And you’ll save time and energy!

As human beings, we tend to choose the least effort possible. If we have a tangible reminder that takes the anxiety out of decision-making, we are more likely to keep on track.

Motivation towards what we desire is what prevents us from choosing not to act. Setting goals in life in a mindful way is the key to remembering that motivation within us.

But again, not everyone has this innate ability.

So, where can you begin determining your goals? Let’s see a list of common goals in life, and you may find some that resonate with you.

Some common goals in life to motivate you

If you can’t find anything that will particularly appeal to you as a life objective, perhaps you’re overthinking it. So, let’s see some goals to set for yourself that are pretty common to people (these are in no particular order).

  1. Own a business
  2. Marry your loved one
  3. A trip to your favorite place or why not? Traveling around the world
  4. Owning your dream car
  5. Finish college
  6. Buying a house
  7. Buying a vacation house
  8. Master another language
  9. Impact positively in the world
  10. Develop a healthy lifestyle
  11. Getting fit
  12. Overcome the traumas from your past
  13. Leave a long and toxic marriage or relationship
  14. Trying a risk activity at least once (may it be skydiving, climbing, etc.)
  15. Visiting a wonder of the world

These are just some ideas for you. As you can see, life goals can comprehend all kinds of aspects of humanity. And they can also coexist!

So, now that you have a general idea of what a life goal is… Are your own ideas popping up in your mind?

GREAT!

Now, it’s time to identify them.

setting goals

What are the 7 types of goals?

Goals may and should be classified to actually set them effectively. According to Angstrom and the Berkeley Well-being Institute, we may find different types divided into groups.

The first group, time-oriented, consists of 2 types of goals:

Long-term goals: which are the macro picture

And short-term goals: which are the immediate objectives or actions you’ll need to accomplish the long-term goals.

However, on the specialized blog Develop Good Habits, they expand these 2 into 4 categories:

Lifetime goals: what you want to be in the future

Long-term goals: the pillars of the person you want to become.

Medium/short-term goals: these are prime steps you need to get to the long-term goals.

Stepping stone goals: the perhaps not-so-desired but necessary actions that will solve the obstacles you may face to achieve more complex goals.

On the other hand, we can find the category group depending on what aspect of your life they affect. This group, according to the same blog, is known as the 7 types of goal setting:

Career: these are naturally related to the work environment and may include getting promotions, starting up a business, learning new skills, starting a side hustle, etc.

Financial: This is crucial for many people as they can improve their situation. And it also helps in times of crisis. It consists in saving and money management measures and, of course, how to increase your income. Some of the common goals in this section are buying a home, car, boat, or other large purchases, paying loans or debts, saving for retirement or college, etc.

Personal growth: these are some of the most fulfilling, as they consist in investing in yourself and becoming a better person. Of course, it depends on what a better person means for you, but they increase what you have to bring to the table. Including: read more, writing a book, starting a new hobby, learning a new skill, language, or even a second career, cultural travel, habit improvement, etc.

Spiritual: this category is not always included, but we believe that the spiritual part is crucial for a happy life. It may involve actions for others, and gestures for yourself: volunteering, meditating, practicing yoga or mindfulness, donating to an important cause, mentor someone who needs it, etc.

Educational: this category mixes with some others regularly, as with career or personal development. Even so, there’re different ways to educate yourself beyond what we already know, so this may include emotional, psychological, and empiric education on any topic.

Relationship goals: these are among the most important if you want to succeed in love. Some of these are very popular such as finding a life partner, getting married, having kids… But they may also include having more time for your spouse, leaving work at the office, sharing a family vacation, retrieving a lost friendship, etc.

Health and physical goals: these are referent to everything from fitness to mental health. They may include living a long life, having a regular training routine, having a healthy diet, or going vegan. Improving your physical condition or becoming fitness, etc.

The good part about these categories is that they’re not excluding. In fact, as you could see, many goals actually mix in these.

Let’s remember that the human psyche is complex and can’t be entirely bottled in one group or category.

So, the best way to adapt and assess the goals that really work for you is with strategy.

And what tactic can you use to improve your capacity of setting goals in life? It’s time to introduce the SMART goals.

What are SMART goals?

This acronym responds to a particular approach for life goal setting, first used in 1981 by G.T Doran in that year’s November issue of Management Review. Each letter of said acronym represents a distinctive facto to consider in the planning of a goal.

From then on, the technique based on strategic goal setting has been used by all kinds of achievers to excel in different fields of expertise.

When we approach SMART goals, it’s crucial to remember that the point of this method is sticking to what the acronym implies –even though the literal words may vary slightly.

In this sense, SMART may be defined as a practical guide to keeping on track of your objectives in life.

But before setting what words represent each letter and their meaning, we should note that the term is constantly evolving. Some experts have even updated it to what they call the SMARTER approach.

Now we’ll expand what both acronyms articulate.

Within the original abbreviation, we may find the acronym defined by more than one word per letter. This happens because some terms resonate with certain personalities or kinds of people more than others. But in essence, they mean the same:

S = Specific (but also significant, sensible, or simple)

M = Measurable (but also meaningful or motivated)

A = Achievable (but also attainable or agreed)

R = Relevant (but also result-based, realistic and resourced, or reasonable)

T = Time-bound (or timely, or time-based, or time-sensitive, among others)

According to professor R.S Rubin from Louisiana University, The SMART term should incorporate the possibility of feedback and revision. To what some authors responded adding the two final letters:

E = evaluated

R = reviewed.

These factors, steps, letters, or however you want to call them to make your objectives tangible and less intimidating, increasing your probability of avoiding getting overwhelmed. Therefore you’re more likely to beat each stage of the process and finally achieve your target.

But, how do you do this? How do you set SMART or SMARTER goals when you have never set strategic plans?

Let’s address this topic in our next section.

How to set SMART goals?

How to set SMART goals?

Setting SMART goals it’s actually easier than it may seem. The crucial factor is that you must be mindful of them, And more importantly, realistic.

However,

As the main principle of this strategy consists of breaking your larger goals into smaller goals, it helps identify if they’re attainable.

Many times we get frustrated and quit achieving our dreams because their magnitude is just overwhelming.

When you start breaking it into milestones, things will get much more organized in your mind. The first step to begin determining whether or not your goals are realistic would be evaluating yourself.

What do you need to evaluate? If you do enough daily deeds, that actually get you closer to your goal.

If you don’t, then it’s time to apply the rule of 5 coined by Jack Canfield in his best-seller Chicken Soup.

According to this rule, you should do at least 5 things each day that leads you to your goals. With that premise in mind, it’s time to start setting your SMART goals.

Let’s follow the acronym once again:

S = Specific

This is the first mistake many of us make when setting a goal: not being specific enough.

The issue with being unclear with your goal is that you may feel overwhelmed by it. It may feel difficult to achieve, ungraspable, and you may even accomplish it without noticing.

An unspecific goal could be, “I’m going to make more money”; it’s too vague to work it smartly. A better statement could be, “I’m going to get a part-time job this year to make more money.”

However,

It may not always seem so easy to formulate. So, the founder of Success motivation International (and best-seller author) Paul J. Meyer, defined some questions we may ask ourselves to be more specific:

  • What do I want to achieve?
  • Why is it important to me?
  • Does it involve other people? Who?
  • Is it local or abroad?
  • What obstacles and resources are involved?

An example of a truly specific goal could be: “I want to develop the skills and training that I need to become fit enough to run a half marathon next year.”

M = measurable

Tracking your progress is crucial. If you don’t have measurable goals, chances are you’ll never notice if you advance or not (and you probably will plateau at some point).

Measuring helps with motivation, long-term consistency, and even re-setting your initial goals.

The kind of question you may be asking yourself could be:

  • How do I know that I’m making progress?
  • How many or much?
  • When or how many days?

Following our previous example, we could say: “I will develop the skills and training that I need to become fit enough to run half marathon next year, by training 2 hours a day, 6 days a week, for 6 months.”

A = Achievable

Here we go back to the “being realistic” part. You should push yourself a bit, but make sure you can actually comply.

If you work or have kids, perhaps training 6 days a week is just not possible. Then, you may rephrase the goal as something like: “I will develop the skills and training that I need to become fit enough to run half marathon next year, by training 2 and a half hours a day, 4 days a week, during 8 months.”

Try answering questions like:

  • What do I need to accomplish this goal?
  • Can I dispose of other activities to include the ones I need to fill this goal?
  • Can I afford the training?
  • What other obstacles do I have to achieve this goal?

R = relevant/realistic

I think we’ve stressed enough the reality principle.

About relevant, you should make sure that you really care about the goal, why, and that it’s under your control.

Setting a goal like “I will win the marathon” depends on others too. Other competitors may be better prepared.

Instead, defining that you will COMPLETE the marathon no matter what depends on you and sets the value to your own effort.

T = time Bound

Finally, we have the time-bound factor.

Not setting a measurable time for your goals may make you fall into endless procrastination and eventual abandonment.

Some good questions to make sure your goal is timely are:

  • When?
  • What can I accomplish on a day?
  • What can I accomplish in 6 months?

This way, you’ll identify if your goal is actually realistic. And start measuring to see if it’s attainable.

An example could be: “since I can only train 1 hour a day and 4 days a week, when would I be able to run the half-marathon, in 6 months or in a year?” And then follow through with setting the goal.

As you can see, setting SMART goals has more to do with being honest and self-reflexive. All the tools you need to start achieving your life goals are within you… You just need to use them smartly *wink*

Of course, this is just a quick overview of how to set your SMART goals in life. If you want to dig deeper into this strategy, you can check our last section, where we share some resources and a complete guide to set them.

But first, let’s see some other more specific SMART goals list, to get a grip of how our own should sound like.

how to set goals at work

How to set SMART goals for your future at work?

Setting SMART goals at work may sound intimidating as there are some factors out of your control.

However, it’s not impossible, and if you apply the method consistently, you may see results faster than you think.

Let’s see an example:

  • Stop being an employee and start a company on the career you’re in.

As you can see, these are more general goals that work as lifetime goals. Then it’s time to make them SMART:

  • Within 10 years: be successful and sustainable in your business.
  • Within 5 years: start your business.
  • Within 3 years: have a trustable client wallet that you can start your company with.
  • Within 1 year: work as a part-time freelancer on an online platform in the same career you’re in, so you can start getting your own clients.
  • Within 6 months: learn the skill you may be lacking to start your business.
  • Within one month: determine what you need to start the business and figure if you already have the resources/skills. Or if you have to achieve them.

Even so, at the end of this article, you’ll find some resources like templates and worksheets to make sure you set your goal in the right way.

Other tips to set your goals and make them happen

  • Break down your goals into smaller goals
  • Write them down
  • Tell a loved one about them (someone who would be excited to hear you)
  • Set a mission and a vision
  • Leave space to re-setting goals
  • If setbacks appear, re-set and keep ongoing.
  • Think about discipline over motivation.

To help you even further on this life goals setting process. Now, I’m sharing some resources you may find helpful.

Helpful resources for setting goals

Some websites, resources, and apps you may use for tracking goals easier are:

I hope these resources and this guide have been of help to you. Setting SMART goals and strategic goals, in general, can truly change your life forever.

Don’t be a victim of your circumstances; own your life, and take control of your future by setting your real-life goals!

 

Thanks for reading! If you have any comments or questions please reach out. If you found this article helpful you might also enjoy reading about how to know your worth.

Kathryn Sason

The author Kathryn Sason

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