Much has been written about the importance of setting goals to achieve success but I think it is also an important strategy when wondering how to make life better for yourself. To improve your life you need to know what is important to you, what things you want to achieve and how you are going to go about achieving them.
You wouldn’t set out to build a house without first deciding what materials to use and what design you want. Your life is no different; you need to know what you want but you also need a plan to help you build it right. Establishing goals will be a major step in achieving what you want in life. You can’t, and won’t, get what you want if you don’t know what it is you want.
Before you can set your life goals, you need to have worked out what is important to you. When you know what is important, you then need to make these things into a priority list with the most important at the top. This list of your priorities in life will form the blueprint for setting your life goals. It will also form the benchmark against which you will measure your achievements and help to keep you on track.
As your life plan unfolds and you go about the business of achieving your goals, you can keep referring back to your priority list to make sure that your actions are in line with what you decided is important to you. In the busyness and frustrations of life, it is all too easy to lose sight of what is really important. It is imperative that you continually check in with those priorities to make sure you are still on track. Unfortunately, it is so easy to get off the track. Regularly ask yourself the question “Is what I am doing going to achieve what I wanted with this aspect of my life? Is it impacting negatively with any other areas of my life?”
For example, if your career is a priority for you, think about how you want your career to develop, what you want to achieve in your working life and what steps and strategies will you need to put in place to achieve what you want. The best goals are specific, so fill in the fine detail as you are making these decisions. When do you want that promotion? Who do you want to work for? When do you want to be earning that salary figure? When do you want to achieve that success? How will you achieve that? Knowing what you want isn’t enough; you need to also work out the when, why, how, who and where of your goals. This information then forms the backbone of your life plan.
Maybe family is a top priority for you, so you need to think about what family actually means to you. If health is a priority, what does good health look like to you? How will you go about achieving the level of health that you want? If having a secure financial future is on your priority list, what exactly does that mean to you in dollar terms and how will you be able to achieve it? How much will you need to live the life you want; how much will you need for a comfortable retirement?
This is a very personal process; your priorities will be different to mine and your goals will be different to mine; this means that your life plan will be different to mine. So don’t compare your plan with anyone else’s and don’t judge your success by comparing with anyone else either. Your life is your journey; if you have determined your priorities, set your own goals and worked out a plan, then the results are in your hands. Don’t be tempted to give over control of your life to another person; that is a recipe for disaster and unhappiness.
Once you have set the goals for your life and developed a plan for achieving those goals, you can relax about how your life is going to turn out. You’ve made the important decisions so now you can put all your thought and effort into working the plan and achieving the goals. You get to enjoy the life you are creating without the stress and worry about what you have to do.
It’s a good idea to review your goals from time to time. As we live, we grow; as we grow, we change. The goals we make when we are twenty may not fit when we are thirty. Our priorities can change just like our circumstances; as we live the life we planned, new ideas and opportunities can come up. So be prepared to review, tweak and change your priorities, goals and plans.
You also have to be prepared for the unexpected because things happen in life which are not in the plan. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, the plan doesn’t go to plan; how you deal with this will have a big impact on your ability to regroup, alter your plan and get on with making your life better again. Use your goals as a basis for developing a new plan for your life and establish new goals if necessary.
I learned from personal experience how life can change. We had planned for our families to both live in the same province as us and our entire schedule and financial plan etc. was geared to this. So when one of our families moved to the other side of the country, everything went out the window. We had to reassess, set new goals and make a new plan on how to afford and see our family. Wonderful how life throws curve balls, isn’t it?
It was as I was redefining my goals that I came upon the idea of writing a personal mission statement. I was familiar with mission statements at work but had never thought about having a personal one. It took me a while to create a mission statement that said everything I wanted it to but the exercise gave me great insight into where I wanted my life to take me. Definitely consider doing this; it brought a clear direction to my life.
I hope you enjoy the process of making your life better by setting goals as much as I do. Regularly check up on how you are tracking by asking yourself if what you are doing is keeping you aligned with your goals and taking you in the direction of the life you’ve dreamed.