“A dream written down with a date becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true.” – Greg Reid
I’d like to introduce you to the last element of the Personal Life Vision: goals
While goals can have personal focus (health, finance, hobbies), career and professional development goals are an integral part of the Personal Life Vision.
What is a goal?
A goal can be a lot of different things. But a goal is not just a dream, hope or wishes. A goal is what we want to achieve, and it is much more meaningful than what we accomplish day to day to survive. Unlike short-term objectives, goals point us in the right direction and make us accountable as we strive for happiness and well-being.
Why set goals?
Setting goals is a powerful process for thinking about your ideal future and for motivating you to turn your vision into reality. Setting goals gives you long-term vision and short-term motivation. It gives you focus and direction and helps you organize your time and resources. Setting goals helps us to be motivated to move towards a destination or achievement.
Align goals with values
Studies shows that the content of our goals may be less important to our well being than our reasons and motivations for pursuing them. Irrespective of the aspiration itself, having the ‘right’ reason for the pursuit has been found to contribute to our well-being. The key is to connect goals to values. When our goals are based on our values, they are meaningful. Meaning and purpose help us to be happier and more fulfilled. Goals allow us to pursue authentic aims of our own choosing and enjoy a feeling of achievement when we get there.
Ask yourself ‘why are these goals important to me?’. You are much more likely to achieve goals that you are motivated by.
How to set and prioritize goals
The first step in creating personal and career goals is to create your big picture goals – what do you want to do with your life (or for the next 10 years)? Identify the large-scale goals you want to achieve. One great exercise I often ask my clients is this:
Imagine yourself at your retirement party. All of your loved ones and colleagues are there, celebrating your life. There is a video montage of all of your proud moments – what you believe your life has meant, and what you have accomplished that you are the most proud of. Ask yourself:
- What gave me the most joy?
- What was my greatest accomplishment?
- What kind of difference have I made in the lives of others?
- What has changed as a result of my having lived?
Prioritization is about identifying the most personally important career goals you’ve designed and written down. One way is to separate them first into categories. What goals do you have under personal growth, career, finance, health, hobbies and fun, etc? Then rank within each category. What is your most important career goal? Is it possible to focus on the top 3-5 goals? Highlight, circle, or pick out the ones that are most worthy of your energy – what is most meaningful to you personally, the most aligned with your values?
How to reach goals
Start planning — what are the sub-goals you’ve identified? What resources will you need for each stage, and when will you need them? Reverse engineering goals and working backwards from the finish line could be helpful.
Create an action plan for each of your goals. This gives you the opportunity to break down a big goal into smaller and manageable steps. Progress, not perfection.
Review your progress against your goals on a regular basis. Whether it’s quarterly, monthly, or weekly depending on the goal and how fast you want to achieve them, ensure that you have a review date and process to help you to be accountable for them.
Setting holistic goals to support you in having a more balanced life
It’s important to consider your life and career together as you’re brainstorming your goals. Life works like a bowl of spaghetti, with overlapping and interdependent segments, rather than like a bento box with separate compartments. All of the parts of our lives are interwoven and affect one another, and they have to be considered together in order to reach a harmonious balance. Having meaningful goals that keep you focused on what you want to create for your career and life will keep you moving in the right direction and your life in balance.
As we close out the year and prepare to begin a new one, take some time to examine your short- and long-term goals for your career and personal life. If you’d like the support of a worksheet to do this exercise and set SMART goals for 2021, feel free to use the following guide: 2020 Year-end Reflections and Setting 2021 SMART Goals