Establishing life goals is serious business – as such, it deserves serious consideration. The following tips can help you analyze a variety of goals to come up with those that best fit your personal wishes, talents, and circumstances.
Set Aside Time to Consider Your Goals
While insight into life goals can come at any time, leaving such important objectives to be determined on the fly is less than optimal. Schedule some time to focus just on figuring out what your life goals should be, rather than leaving the process completely to chance.
Don’t expect to determine all of your life goals in one or two planning sessions. It can take a significant amount of time to come to a decision on which goals should be pursued once you come up with a variety to choose from. This is why it is important to set aside a certain amount of time to take into account all of the issues involved with choosing a particular life goal and making sure that you actually want to pursue it.
Cast a Wide Net
Some goals seem easy to choose, while others may seem like they come out of the blue. While it’s true that a person can only do so many things in life, this doesn’t mean that you should limit your options when selecting your goals. You may find that a life goal you would not have been likely to consider becomes more palatable once you take time to examine the pluses and minuses of pursuing it.
To avoid missing out on the chance to pursue goals that you might not normally consider, cast a wide net when you are trying to determine life goals. Conduct a brainstorming session where you take note of all the objectives that you think might be remotely possible; this will enable you to come up with a large list that you can then refine into a smaller set of goals that you feel comfortable attempting to attain.
Don’t be too practical when initially drawing up the list, there will be time for that later. Write down all of the things that you would find exciting, enthralling, or downright fun as well as more prosaic goals such as making a living. Ideally, your life goals will consist of a balance of the practical and the enjoyable, too much of one or the other can be deleterious to either your wealth or your health. When you have finished drawing up your list select the things that most appeal to you, keeping in mind the need for balance.
Draw up a Plan
Writing down your plans is crucial to making them a reality. If your plans remain strictly thoughts in your head they can become ephemeral, simply wishes rather than achievable goals. To improve your chances of achieving your life goals, draw up plans that outline in step-by-step fashion how you intend to reach them.
Play to Your Strengths
It’s a truism, but it bears repeating: nobody can be the best at everything. When selecting your life goals, make sure to take into account not just what you want to do but also what you can do. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t aim high or try to achieve your dreams, just that you should try to align your objectives with your skills as much as possible.
Embrace Continuous Improvement
Improving your skills has become ever more important in the era of globalization. Many jobs now feature worldwide competition, meaning that the deeper your skillset is, the more likely you are to find employment. Even if your job isn’t subject to competition on this scale, aiming to constantly improve yourself is still a worthwhile objective. Doing so makes it more likely you will be able to achieve all your goals.
Draw up a List of Short-Term Goals to Start
Many of the life goals you set are likely to be long-term in nature. Either they won’t be accomplished for many years or, like having children or saving for retirement, they require a long-term commitment. To achieve goals of this type, it is often necessary to achieve other shorter-term goals first.
Before firmly deciding on your life goals, it can be helpful to draw up a list of notes with goals you plan to achieve in the short run. Your reaction to these goals can provide valuable feedback when it comes to determining which longer run goals to pursue. Writing down short-term goals can also help you determine how realistic various long-term goals are. For instance, if your career plans require an advanced degree before you can join a profession, this may require you to adjust your financial plans. If you were planning to buy a house right after graduating from college but your professional plans require lengthy postgraduate work, such a goal may not be feasible.
Link Specific Outcomes to Each Goal You Set
To bring your goals into clearer focus, and help determine whether they are truly goals you are willing to put effort into achieving, identify the specific outcomes linked to each goal. Outcome visualization enables you to bring into sharper focus the tangible results you expect to realize from a goal.
For example, if you plan to save money to buy a house, the likely outcome of doing so is buying a house. Consider what that would mean for you. If your job may involve a transfer to another locality is owning a house prudent? If you plan to raise a family will the house you can afford be sizable enough for the number of children you expect to have or would you better off renting? Visualizing an outcome can give you a better idea of whether or not you should pursue a goal and, if so, how you should go about pursuing it.
Make Sure You Know the Why Behind Each Goal
Many goals that people pursue become habitual, sometimes to the extent that the reasons underlying the goals can become cloudy. This can lead to situations where an individual suddenly realizes that they are working to achieve goals that they no longer need, or want, to achieve. Such an epiphany can be particularly painful if it turns out you have been spinning your wheels for an extensive period of time on no longer desired objectives.
To guard against this, ensure that you understand why it is you are pursuing a particular goal. As long as the motivation remains constant, taking action to try and achieve a goal is worthwhile. On the other hand, if you find that you can’t identify a reason why you would want to achieve a certain goal, it can serve as a warning sign to review your behavior to make sure you aren’t wasting your time trying to realize a goal that you no longer find compelling.
Take Advantage of Inspiration
Sometimes the best insights occur to us when we are not looking for them. To take advantage of this type of inspiration, make sure to record these insights as they occur. This could mean writing them down on a scrap of paper or using the audio recording function on your smartphone if you are not in the office when they happen. The key takeaway when it comes to benefiting from inspiration is not to eschew good ideas just because they came to you unexpectedly.
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