Setting Goals for the Life You Want

A Goal Without A Plan Is Just A Wish 

This post contains excerpts from the Goal Setting Guide available on our website and in this article. The guide will provide additional detail on concepts in the article below and will lead you through a process of setting and aligning life goals down to your current year. If you are looking for a source to get your goals to a daily actionable level today, this is the guide for you. 

According to research by the University of Scranton, a shocking 92 percent of people that set new year's goals never actually achieve them.

These unachieved goals take a toll on people. If you are reading this article, you are likely a "Type A" personality focused on achievement, like most in The Manager's Journal community. We are wired in such a way that hard work is typically our go-to tool and failing at anything is a fear that we live with and, at times, feel the sting of.

For these reasons, we can consume all the articles set in front of us on the subjects of increased productivity or technical information to improve our abilities at work. However, if we are not taking to heart a deep understanding of purpose and goal setting, our personality types lead us to utilize this additional time and knowledge to load in more and more work.  

In this article, we will address tips and tricks for better improving your goal setting and achieving abilities. Further, we will discuss the concept of aligning goals for the big picture in your life. This is the only way a "Type A" personality can prevent defaulting to a cycle of ever-increasing workloads.

Reflection Before - Setting a Goal

Contemplating our lives, we all know, it can be chaotic and overcomplicated on the best days. Years from now, when the crises and minutia of the day have faded away, we will inevitably reflect, feeling either satisfaction or regret with the level of fulfillment our lives have provided. At The Manager's Journal, our desire is to help you focus on those portions of life that really matter. Those that will move you toward the happiness and fulfillment we all truly desire. Below is a condensed explanation of the four life areas set forth in our guide as needed for fulfillment.

Four Areas for Life Fulfillment:

  1. Relationships & Community (Family, Friends & Community)
    1. Providing Tangible (Build & Buy)
    2. Providing Intangible (Time, Care & Commitment)
  2. Financial (Sources of Income)
  3. Health & Personal Development (Health, Development, & Inner Peace)
  4. Individual Aspirations (Material & Experiential Desires)

It is fine if your list has a couple more or different items on it, but it is important for you to be mindful of all aspects of a healthy life. To succeed at work but have your body suffer from poor health, or to have a multitude of material possessions but no community family or friends to share life with, will all lead down a path that affects us and those around us negatively. 

The first step, before ever setting a goal is reflecting on the aspects of life that require our attention to make this whole process of living day to day worthwhile for the long haul.

Aligning Your Goals

Those that are completing their goals work to align short and long-term aspirations toward their life objectives. This leads to happier lives, says Jonathan Haidt in the Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom.

"The psychologists Ken Sheldon and Tim Kasser have found that people who are mentally healthy and happy have a higher degree of 'vertical coherence' among their goals -- that is, higher-level (long-term) goals and lower-level (immediate) goals all fit together well so that pursuing one's short-term goals advances the pursuit of long-term goals".

This cohesion is provided for in a section of our goal guide that allows for breaking the above four life areas down at a broad life level and working them to a five year and one year level. Each time the goals/action steps get more specific. 

Notice we are only using life goals, 5-year goals and 1-year goals on our timeline. We consider anything over five years a waste of your time in the present as so much can change by then. Five years is an adequate length of time to get your mind working on what successful milestones should look like in the future road to your idealistic goal. 

The further out on the timeline you are looking, be idealistic. Don’t stress over how you will get it done. Simply be crystal clear on what would be perfect in each area. Ask yourself "if my life was perfect in each of these areas what would it look like? What would I be doing? What would I have? Who would I become to my family, friends, and community?"

Tips for Setting Successful Goals

Now that you have a balanced list of areas to set goals in and a structure to align goals for a longer-term objective, it's time to start setting goals. Here is a quick list of helpful tips and tricks for setting your goals so that the likelihood of them being achieved rises significantly.

  • Set specific and challenging goals
    • Once your broad life goal has been worked down to a year level. Make an actionable, specific, and challenging goal to work toward now. The more specific and challenging your goals, the higher your motivation toward hitting them. That explains why easy or vague goals are rarely met.
    • If your year goal is to lose 25 pounds this year, rather than leaving the goal here change it to read “I will lose .5lbs a week by cutting out all soft drinks and fast food. I will workout for 30 minutes three times a week, and I will walk for 20 minutes every evening after dinner.” This phrasing eliminates vagueness and immediately makes this goal more actionable and achievable.
  • Goals HAVE to excite you 
    • "If the potential payoff is mediocre or average, so is your effort. I'll run through walls to get a catamaran trip through the Greek islands, but I might not change my brand of cereal for a weekend trip through Columbus, Ohio. If I choose the latter because it is "realistic," I won't have the enthusiasm to jump even the smallest hurdle to accomplish it." Tim Ferris - The Four Hour Work Week
  • Accountability
      • When someone knows your aspirations, they assist in holding you accountable for giving answer to progress in achieving goals. I, personally, have a great friend that we maintain a standing yearly camping trip where we discuss our previous year's successes/failures and our goals for the upcoming year. We then talk regularly during the year, keep tabs of how the other is doing, and help with motivation for staying on track.

    The one sure thing that can be said is that a person with goals will make progress even if their path is rough. A person without goals just goes back and forth whether the path is clear or troubled. Taking the time to set goals is like providing yourself a map, a vehicle, and a skilled person to operate it. After completing your goals, the most important step is getting started executing your plan TODAY not tomorrow or the next day. Make it a point and you will never be the same again.

    “Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.” -Peter Drucker

    Action Steps

    1. Download and print our Goal Setting Guide today. When you have two uninterrupted hours available complete the guide in one sitting. The focus, purpose, and fulfillment setting and achieving goals will bring to your life are too critical to ignore.
    2. Whether you use our system or your own, make sure it is a repeatable process. Keep this goals list for reference and more importantly to repeat this process yearly. 

    Blessings In Your Endeavors,

    Ruben Watson