What’s one goal that – if you achieved it – would transform your life?
Perhaps your aim is to get in shape, start a business, or get married. Or you want to buy a house, get promoted, or travel the world.
Think about the type of life you could be living if you accomplished your dreams. How empowered and happy would that make you feel?
Then, imagine the consequences of not setting goals. Are you okay with the regrets and experiences you’d miss?
So, are you ready to learn the precise formula on how to achieve all your goals?
Sorry, but that’s NOT this article. The good news is that volumes have been written on how to set goals:
TLDR: Write down SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based) goals. Break them down into steps, then act daily.
That’s it. Instead, I want to talk to the 97% of people that don’t set goals at all or are overdue to rewrite them.
Let’s first remember why goals are important, and then I’ll recommend ten of the best goals you can set for yourself.
The Power of Setting Goals
Your life’s purpose describes why you’re here. Your goals are the milestones of that purpose. Without concrete objectives, you have no way of knowing if you’ve achieved what you’re after. In that sense, goals bring needed clarity and accountability. They also inspire you and drive action. They steer you in the right direction and remind you when to switch course. They set your life’s focus so you aren’t distracted by dead ends.
Every successful person sets priorities for themselves, even if their approach may be unorthodox. Bill Gates wanted to be a businessperson growing up. His company, Microsoft, was for a time the most significant business in the world, and Gates the world’s richest man. Barack Obama answered in a school assignment that he wanted to be President of the United States, and he became the forty-fourth.
“A goal properly set is halfway reached.” —Zig Ziglar
Admission: I learned the power of goals the hard way, through years of missed opportunities and disappointments. Before I could even drink legally, I was fired, arrested, and kicked out of school.
Alone, defeated, and in a moment of introspection, I finally realized that I had become the source of my problems. I had set the wrong goals using shortsighted tactics. I quit too early or too late all too often. When I began setting the proper goals, my results increased. I found more success at work, at the gym, and in personal relationships. I achieved things I never thought possible.
Creating Your Own Goals
Where a lot of people get stuck is choosing the right goal. Start by taking a piece of paper and start to write down everything that you want to do, no matter how crazy or bizarre it may sound to you or others. Write down “I Want to Do “Activity or Accomplishment By [Date]”. Think categories like Physical and Mental Health, Personal Life, Family, and Social Life, Career, Spirituality, etc. Once you have a few dozen goals listed, start grouping similar ones and cut out the ones that don’t speak to you. Most people only have the time and energy to pursue one or two goals at a time. The trick to prioritizing is to identify keystone goals that have a domino effect on other areas of your life.
For example, a couple of years ago I decided to run a marathon for charity. To accomplish it, I would have to: 1) Quit Smoking, 2) Exercise daily, 3) Eat Healthier, 4) Join a Run Club = Improved Social Life 5) Wake up earlier each day to fit into my schedule, 6) Give back/donate. Not bad for one goal!
10 Great Goals to Get Started
While I can’t prescribe the perfect goal for you, as it’s highly personal, here are some of my favorites to get you started:
1. Take a Class on Any Skill That Appeals to You
Why This Goal: Learning new skills keep your mind and body engaged, and it can open the doors to new hobbies or careers. It can also reduce your stress and help you meet new people.
How to Get Started: Google search workshops near you. As the world reopens, hands-on activities like learning an Instrument, Filmmaking, Photography, Painting, Archery, Salsa Dancing, Glassblowing, and more are becoming available.
2. Participate in an Endurance or Obstacle Race
Why This Goal: Aerobic exercise can improve your physical health by lowering your cardiovascular risk. Endurance races are a great way to hold yourself accountable so that you are more consistent. This type of training also builds mental fortitude and is a great way to meet others.
How to Get Started: Sign up for any type of race – running, biking, swimming, or a combination of the three (triathlon). Or try an obstacle race like Tough Mudder or Spartan. Active.com is a great website for finding races in your area. Many races were canceled in 2020, but you can often do a virtual race or sign up for one in 2021.
3. Make a Difference in Someone’s Life by Volunteering
Why This Goal: When we’re feeling bad about ourselves, we tend to see our problems as worse than they are. We start to see our struggles as insurmountable. When we give back to others, we gain strength, and it reduces our anxiety and fear.
How to Get Started: Go to volunteermatch.org. There you’ll find hundreds or thousands of charities in places near you.
4. Write a Book
Why This Goal: Writing is not just a good practice for work or school. It’s a major creative release that helps us express who we are as a person. I find writing to be a cathartic experience that helps me gain clarity in my mind.
How to Get Started: If you don’t know what to write about, write about your life experiences, your interests, or your observations of the world.
5. Spruce up Your Home
Why This Goal: Renovating your home, whether it’s cleaning, upgrading some furniture, or doing a full remodel can give you greater pride. And since you’re likely spending more time in your home these days, it might as well be comfortable. If you own, it can make it more attractive to buyers when you sell.
How to Get Started: Envision your ideal living space. Identify a few home improvement projects that would make the greatest impact. Find ways to better organize your space, declutter, and clean. Try these tips: 10 Helpful Tips To Effectively Declutter Your Home
6. Deliver a Speech to the Largest Crowd You Can
Why This Goal: Many people would rather pass a kidney stone than deliver a speech to strangers. Yet there is no other activity that will expand your influence like public speaking.
How to Get Started: Join the Toastmasters international public speaking organization. Clubs get together weekly to practice their public speaking skills. Annual dues are less the $100 and include a guide to your first ten speeches. You could also take a course at your city college or an Improv or Acting Class. Whatever gets you talking!
7. Learn a Self-Defense Technique or Martial Art
Why This Goal: This is another goal that can help all aspects of your physical health, from weight control to building strength. Knowing that you can defend in an emergency, will bring new levels of peace and confidence.
How to Get Started: There are many options, from karate, taekwondo, or mixed martial arts to name a few. I am a big fan of Muay Thai kickboxing. Find which martial art interests you, and sign up at your local gym or dojo.
8. Explore Your World, Near and Far
Why This Goal: Travel has been known to relieve stress and boost one’s overall happiness and satisfaction with life. One of life’s best gifts is exploring other cultures, meeting new people, and trying new cuisines and novel experiences.
How to Get Started: While international travel was greatly restricted in 2020, most of us still have plenty of options. If you’d feel safer traveling next year, consider a staycation or road trip. This is a great year to explore nearby towns, monuments, and national parks.
9. Build a Business or Brand for Yourself
Why This Goal: Best case scenario, you build a profitable business that provides a valuable service to the community and stable income for you. Worst case, the business doesn’t work out, and you’ll learn a ton of valuable lessons. Be mindful of the risk and your exposure to losses.
How to Get Started: This is beyond the scope of this article, but if you have a great idea, consider writing a business plan, look for ways to fund your business, and form a team to build your product or service. Here’s How to Start a Company from Scratch (A Step-By-Step Guide)
10. Save & Invest More of Your Money
Why This Goal: People build wealth by saving more of their income and investing it wisely over the long term. Great wealth could mean financial freedom to you – the ability to choose how you want to spend your time. It could bring you greater security and peace of mind.
How to Get Started: Try to save at least 20% of your income. This can be tough, but reduce your budget to the necessities, and try to make more money at work (raises, bonuses) or through a side hustle. Max out your 401k if you have one. Invest the rest in assets like index funds and real estate.
I hope that I’ve inspired you with a few ideas for your own goals. No one ever looks back and wishes that they spent more time watching TV, or scrolling through feeds on social media. Try out as many experiences as you can. Learn about yourself in the process, and figure out what makes you happy. Let us know your favorite goals in the comments below.
More About Goal Setting
Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com