How important are goals in your life? To answer this question, imagine a hypothetical situation.
You are heading out onto the open road, taking a cross-country trip to the vacation spot of your dreams. A lot of time was spent carefully packing the car with your luggage and healthy snacks for the road. You even took the effort of saving a sweet Spotify playlist to your phone for the many hours of driving ahead. Everything is going to be great.
You hop onto the interstate, humming along to one of your favorite songs. The minutes fly by as fast as the miles and soon you are far from home. This is uncharted territory for you, but the change of scenery is refreshing. The sun reaches high noon and you suddenly realize you’re starving for lunch. Time to find a place to eat.
Parking at one of those gas stations in the middle of nowhere, you pull out your phone to check for the nearest restaurants. The map won’t load. With a sinking feeling, you realize you’re out of data for the month. Out of data and alone in a place you’ve never been before. You own paper maps and a handy GPS, but you left those things back at your house.
What would you do in this situation? The chance you’ll be able to find a good restaurant is small, and the chance your journey will successfully end at your dream destination is next to nothing. Odds are: you’ll either call your phone carrier for an extra gig of data, make the trek back home to grab your GPS, or buy a map inside the gas station. Any way you slice it, you need a route and navigation to continue your trip.
Failing to set goals in your life is like taking a trip with no means of navigation. You might get lucky and come across a few places worth visiting during your voyage, but most of the time you will simply be trying to figure out where you are. Goals are the primary way we can project and fulfill our own future. And if we construct our goals in the right manner, they also provide the correct path forward.
You’ve probably made goals for yourself at some point. Perhaps during a new-year’s-day burst of motivation. But how committed were you with following through? If you ultimately failed, don’t feel bad. Statistically, most people’s goals are forgotten a few weeks after they make them. New year’s resolutions are particularly susceptible to this neglect. In order to get the most out of your goals and make it easy for you to push to success, you need to know the proper method to setting goals.
Dedicate a couple hours to this process. Your goals are very important, and this procedure is going to change your life. Prepare yourself to give a lot of thought and a bit of work to the following guide. Pull out a notepad or open a word processor, and let’s get started.
Begin with visualization
Close your eyes and think about the future. Not the next few days or months – the far future. Put yourself into your perfect life’s shoes.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Where am I?
- Who am I with?
- What do I look like?
- How do I feel?
- What am I doing?
This perfect future life you are seeing is your ultimate goal. Write down details of this goal as you visualize. Be as specific as possible.
Break it down
Everyone’s life situation really boils down to five main areas:
Continuing with the visualization of your perfect life, write down how each of these areas is going for you in the future.
It’s very important to write these goals in the present tense.
Let’s use a physical goal as an example. Don’t write “I will be a marathon runner”. Instead write “I am a marathon runner”. You will be looking over these goals many times in the years to come. When you read something that’s present tense, you are encouraging your subconscious mind to see it as a reality. This helps you live like you’ve already achieved your goal, which is super effective for making progress and staying motivated.
Devote an honest effort while completing this step. After all, you are effectively planning out how the rest of your life is going to go. Don’t be afraid to set very ambitious goals for yourself. You have more potential than you could ever realize, and creating goals that are easy to reach is just selling yourself short.
Give it a timeframe
Now you should have a list of lifetime goals broken down into the five main areas of life. The next step is to work backwards in time, getting closer and closer to the present.
Here is how you should structure your goals:
- Lifetime Goals
- Financial Goals
- Relationship Goals
- Physical Goals
- Mental Goals
- Emotional Goals
- Three-Year Goals
- Yearly Goals
- Continue making goals for the five areas within each timeframe
- Quarterly Goals
- Monthly Goals
- Weekly Goals
Start with your list of “Lifetime Goals”
Determine what you’ll have to do to reach each of those five goals within three years. Add them to the list under “Three-Year Goals” (remember to do it in present tense). Now decide what you’ll have to do within a year to reach your three-year goals. Continue this process down the line until you finish weekly. Again, do not rush this!
Review and manage your list
Congratulations! You have just created a road map to your perfect life. Hang the sheet you’ve constructed somewhere you will see it every day, like by your bed or on the bathroom mirror. It’s vital to review your goals on a daily basis. You need to burn them into your mind.
When the week is up, you will need to create new weekly goals. Take this time to evaluate yourself on your progress. What went really well? What could you have done better? Commit to making improvements whenever possible. You will have to create new goals every month, every year, every quarter, and every three years. Refer back to your lifetime goals when deciding what to write in each of these instances.
Do not underestimate the effort it will require to reach your destination. This journey is a priority in your life. Chase your goals like your life depends on them, because it absolutely does. Congratulate and reward yourself for small wins. Motivate yourself by visualizing the future you will be living some day.
Know beyond any doubt that you have the ability to create your own future by making the correct choices in the present. Now that you have filled out your ultimate goalsheet, you possess instructions for exactly what you have to do. Go and get after it!
Despite my best efforts to be simple, this guide may be confusing to you. I’ve made a handle little template on Google Docs that you can copy, paste, and fill in to streamline this process. It’s completely free! Click the link below for access (use a desktop browser for best experience).