How to Set Goals for Your Life

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I must confess: I LOVE setting goals. Love it. I could set goals all day long.  For fun, sometimes I plan out different parts of my life and dream about the future and I absolutely love it. Of course, I try to live in the present, but thinking about the future can certainly be fun and motivating.  Here’s how to set goals and achieve them for your life.

I must confess: I LOVE setting goals. Love it. I could set goals all day long. For fun, sometimes I plan out different parts of my life and dream about the future and I absolutely love it. Of course, I try to live in the present, but thinking about the future can certainly be fun and motivating. Here's how to start setting goals.

How Do I Start Setting Goals? | How to Start Setting Goals

Setting goals is a great way to give some meaning and direction to your life.  When you’re working toward a specific purpose or set of goals, overcoming the daily challenges and struggles in life becomes much more bearable.  If you have the right “why,” you can bear almost any “how.” 🙂

So, grab a journal and a cup of tea and let’s get started! Feel free to pick and choose the questions you want to answer. You don’t have to answer everything; these are just here to give you ideas and get your mind in dreaming and planning mode.

What do you want in life?

Personal Beliefs and Values

This will help you figure out how to set goals that actually matter to you.

  • List 5 things you believe.
  • List 5 things that are important to you.
  • List your 5 most important values.

How Do You Want to Feel?

How do you want to feel? This is a question based on Danielle Laporte’s The Desire Map.  I’ve asked myself this question many times because it’s a great place to start and a whole different approach to living your life and goal setting.

Usually we start with arbitrary goals like “lose 10 pounds,” “get into college,” “get a job,” “eat healthy,” or “be in a relationship” without thinking about why we want these things.

Usually New Year’s resolutions are set this way. But what we’re really after when we set goals is to feel a certain way. We want to feel happy or secure or safe or proud or strong.

So what if we turned goal setting on its head and started with how we want to feel and then created goals based on that?

To start I free wrote all the different things I wanted to feel in my life, from happy to radiant and clever and everything in between.

Finally I decided on four words that would guide my life and all of my decisions: radiant, joyful, inspired, brave.

Danielle Laporte calls these “core desired feelings.” These were the feelings I wanted to evoke in my day to day activities. 

When deciding something or doing anything that required some decision-making, I’d ask myself, does this activity make me feel radiant, joyful, inspired, or brave?  If not, maybe I should reconsider what I’m doing.

Of course, there will always be activities and chores you have to do that don’t evoke these feelings, but the point is to make your important decisions from a place of intention.

If you were making a decision about something, you could ask if it would create any of your core desired feelings.  If it doesn’t, maybe you shouldn’t be doing that thing.

Choose feelings that will help create your best life, and then base all your important decisions of what to do on core desired feelings.

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Taking an Inventory of Your Life

First score each area from 1-10 (1 being awful and 10 being everything is amazing!) and then set 1-3 goals for each.

  • Family and Friends
  • Love
  • Fun
  • Money
  • Health
  • School or Career
  • Personal Growth

New Habits and Routines

In order to accomplish these new goals that you just set, what are you going to have to change in your life?

How can you create new habits that will propel you forward?

Come up with at least 3 regular habits you can implement in your life that will get you closer to your goals.  Think about activities you can do daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly.

Every day, write down your three most important tasks and then do them. If you do this every day, you’ll make a ton of progress.

Congrats! You made it! Now you have some awesome goals written down for your life and you’re one step closer to accomplishing your dreams.

How to Reach Your Goals without Getting Overwhelmed

If you’re trying to reach a big goal, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed when you look at everything you have to do and then get discouraged and want to give up. But there are a few simple things you can do in order to reach your goals without getting overwhelmed. Here’s how. ?

Set your overall goal

Ok, first you have to figure out what your big goal is. Remember to make it specific and attach a deadline to it so it actually gets done. ?

(Note: another way to set goals and not get overwhelmed is to set small, baby step kind of goals, but this is specifically about when you’re trying to reach one big goal).

Maybe your goal is to train for a 5k (specific) by a certain date or write 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo in a single month. This is the one time when we’re going to be looking at the big, huge goal all at once before we start breaking it down into manageable chunks.

Work backwards and break down the big goal into steps

Next, figure out how to break down the goal based on when your deadline is.

If you were training for a 5k race, for example, you might look up different training plans online and then figure out how many minutes or miles you need to run per day in order to work up to a 5k run by the end of your training.

Or if you were going to write 50,000 words in a month, you would just break it down by 30 days and see that you need to write about 1,666 words each day.

Figure out what steps you need to complete each day, then do it

In the examples above, we determined that you’d need to write 1,666 words each day, or run however long your training plan specified. Maybe you need to run 1 mile a day for a week, and then work your way up to a 5k from there.

So on this particular day, what do you need to accomplish? Go do that.

Don’t think about how far you still have to go

This might sound counterintuitive, but if you’re working on a big, overwhelming goal, then try not to look at how far you still have to go or you’re going to get discouraged. Instead, just accomplish your task for today and look at only the moment ahead of you.

Complete what you need to do in this moment or in this day and don’t let yourself look at everything you still have to do. The part when we get overwhelmed with our goals is when we see that we’re only on day 1 and we have over 48,000 words left to go.

So after you’ve set the initial goal, don’t look at it again. Just complete your specified task for the day and be done with it.

“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” – Earl Nightingale

Ok, that’s it! To reach your goals without getting overwhelmed, you set your big goal initially, break it down into daily action steps, and then just do it.

Put your blinders on, get your work done, and keep putting one foot in front of the other. ? You can do this.

The biggest mistake I see people making when trying to reach their goals is trying to do too much all at once, and then getting burned out and giving up. Are you making this mistake when going after your goals?

The One Mistake You’re Making When Going After Your Goals | Goal Setting Mistakes

The biggest mistake I see people making when trying to reach their goals is trying to do too much all at once, and then getting burned out and giving up. Are you making this common goal setting mistake when going after your goals?

Reaching your goals is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s tempting at the beginning of a project to do ten blog posts in one day because you’re excited, but it’s much better if you do just a few of something or take a few steps forward each day, consistently, over a longer period of time.

Consistency is what works.

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It’s kind of like losing weight. If you have twenty pounds to lose, you might be tempted to eat nothing for a week and try to quickly lose weight overnight, but it’s much more effective (and ultimately faster) to just cut your calories by a few hundred per day. Then do that consistently every day over a number of weeks or months.

It may not be the glamorous way to reach your goals, but it does work.

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How to Make Goals That Work

Maybe you want to develop a meditation practice. Instead of starting by meditating for an hour today, why not start with five or ten minutes a day for a week and then working up to a longer amount of time? If you start with an hour, you’re going to end up hating it and not wanting to do it again for a long time. And we don’t want that.

Ultimately the most important thing is that you get into the habit of taking a few small steps every day, rather than erratically taking action for several hours every few weeks when you feel like it.

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You can still take advantage of the excitement you feel at the beginning of a project.

Maybe you want to write a book. If you feel extra motivated, maybe you could briefly outline the whole book or come up with a plot summary and do something that will make it easier to reach your daily goals in the future.

You could also write a few extra pages and “count” those as work completed on a day when you just don’t feel like writing. Sometimes it’s nice to have extra completed work lying around that you can publish or finish when your motivation is lower.

So, that’s all there is to reaching your goals. Break down the goal into a few small daily steps, and then complete those steps every day until you get to your goal.

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