Life is like a game. We set goals and get rewards if we get them or strive to do better when we don’t. Unlike a video game, though, we’d always have to play the game of life.
We’d always have to continue setting goals, may it be getting through high school or having a million dollars before you’re 30; goals are the milestones we follow to see if we’re getting to where we want to be.
However, video games tell you where you need to be at a stage or phase of the game. In life, it’s us who have to set our own goals. But, what are they? How do you make them? What if you fail? Can you change your life goals?
Making and having goals is a broad concept that leads to a lot of questions. In this guide, it’s our goal to help you know more about yourself and set the goals that you need.
What Are Goals?
You can set as many goals as you want, but it would be useless if you don’t understand what they really are. Having and working for a goal is all about the bigger picture. We all want to be something in life, and it’s by setting goals that we can see how far or near we are from achieving our vision.
While some people can live a life without goals, just seeing life through and taking advantage of opportunities as they come without planning and preparation, having goals is a better way of making sure that you can get somewhere.
What’s good with goals is that it’s the steps on a ladder, with each step taken taking you closer to the top. However, while goals are something we want to do and imagine achieving, keep in mind that goals aren’t dreams.
Goals vs Dreams
Goals and dreams are both things. With dreaming, you can dream as hard as you want, but you won’t realize your dream by just dreaming about it.
Dreams are things we want to do or get in the future, while goals are those that we want to achieve before a stage in our life. In the end, dreams are just wishes; we do not work for them. Goals are those that we really work for to achieve.
To distinguish between goals and dreams, here are some of the key differences between the two:
- Dreams don’t have deadlines. When dealing with dreams, there’s no pressure to achieve them. Because they don’t have deadlines, there’s a lesser price to pay to get them. With goals, you have to get them accomplished before the deadline. Setting goals can make you more productive and help you achieve more things as you have a clear timeline of getting what you want.
- Dreams are wild. Dreams are products of the imagination, which means it’s less bound to reality. They don’t have to be realistic; they just make you feel happy and excited. In comparison, goals are much more based on and are bound to reality.
- Dreams are free. It doesn’t take much to dream. All you have to do is sit somewhere and dream of the things you want without minding if these dreams are realistic. While dreams are free, goals aren’t. You have to work for them, which means you have to invest time, effort, and even money to satisfy goals that help you get closer to your dreams, a step at a time.
How to Find your Life Goals
It would be easy for us to say that to achieve your goals, you have to stay motivated and invest as much time and effort as you can towards achieving these goals. Well, it’s true.
However, the problem is that not everyone has goals in life. Not everyone knows who or what they want to be, 10, 20, or 30 years away from now. It’s common sense; how can you achieve your goal if you don’t know what it is, right?
If you want to be more productive and get more things done but you don’t know where to start because you don’t even know where you want to go, here are some tips to help you find the right goals for yourself, so you can get on the path of achieving your dreams.
What Do You Want?
Finding your goals always starts with this question. By knowing what you want, it will be easier for you to set goals that put you closer to your passions and things that are important to you. By knowing what you want and anchoring your goals on these, you can have a more enjoyable and easier way towards achieving your goals.
Why Do You Want Them?
After the first tip, we’re sure that you can come up with a lot of things that you’re passionate about. But while it’s great if you can make your goals about all your passions, it would leave you working on too many things. In this step, you need to know why you’re passionate about these things, so you can select one or a few that you can put all your focus on.
Set Goals Moderately
It’s wiser to keep things simple. Instead of setting a single difficult goal that’s hard to achieve, you’re better off thinking of goals that will slowly get you closer to your dream rather than set one goal straight off to your dreams.
Setting Your Goals
Now that you have at least an idea of your passions and the things you want, it’s time to set your goals. It may seem like a simple process, but setting your goals right highly contributes to the chances of achieving them.
In setting goals, you can’t just list anything that comes to mind. You need to make sure that the goals you set will lead you to become a better person and closer to the person you want to be. To help you become a better person, here are some ways that you can set goals for yourself:
1. Follow your deadlines: A big part of goal-setting depends on your commitment to follow the deadlines you set for yourself. Is your goal for this month to save at least $500 for your savings? Keep in mind that you have to try as hard as you can to accomplish your goal, and know that getting close to your goal is never close enough. If you managed to save $500 but took two extra days, then you should try better next time because you still weren’t able to satisfy the deadline you set.
2. Your goals should motivate you: No one likes doing things that they’re not passionate about. To avoid being stuck in an uncomfortable situation, make sure that your goals don’t just bring you results or income. Set goals that will motivate you to get up in the morning and work hard. If your motivation is rooted in helping people, then set goals that will allow you to help others. In this way, you would have more incentive to work hard.
3. Follow the SMART goals: Most likely, you’ve already heard of the SMART goals before. Following this rule isn’t just smart, it also makes goal-setting more practical.
- Specific– Make sure that your goals are specific. For example, if you want to learn a language, you can’t just list your goal as to learn Italian. Goals should not cover all bases, meaning that you would have to make them detailed and step by step.
- For example, your first goal towards learning Italian should be something like “learn important Italian words. As you understand the language more, you can slowly set more goals to help master the language.
- Measurable – Achieving goals is all about achieving results equal to the expectation you set for yourself, but how can you know if it’s equal or not when you don’t know how to look at it? It’s why it’s important to set measurable goals.
- For example, if your goal is to reduce the time you spend in front of screens, you have to make it measurable in some way, such as limiting yourself to just 4 hours of screen time per day. In this way, you can measure if you’re achieving the results you want or not.
- Attainable – As we said earlier, goals are different from dreams. Dreams have no limits, while goals are based on reality and doing the work to achieve them. It’s not a bad thing to set high goals for yourself, but make sure that they are still practical and attainable.
- It’s easy to aim for the moon, but it’s also easy to get disappointed when you realize that your hands can only go so high. Instead, focus on the smaller, more attainable steps that will help you build the big picture of your big dreams.
- Relevant– You know what you want to achieve and who you want to be in life, right? Then, set goals that are relevant to achieving these things. Avoid getting sidetracked with things that don’t matter too much. Instead, focus your energy on goals that will improve you as a person.
- Time-bound– All goals are time-bound. As we said earlier, if you set a deadline, be disciplined enough to try your hardest to follow it.
4. Make a list: Have you ever experienced having a really great idea while you’re trying to sleep, but you brush off standing up to take notes about it, thinking that you would eventually remember it in the morning? If you have, we bet that you didn’t remember it during the morning.
It’s not that hard to think about goals, but if you want to stay committed to them and to keep reminding yourself of the things you need to do to reach your dreams, then you should put everything on paper and put it somewhere that it’s easy for you to see. Put the list on your desk, by your bed, on your phone, or anywhere possible so you’ll always be reminded
When writing your goals down, don’t just write them as things you “want” to do. Write them down as things that you “would” do. By doing this, you can commit yourself further to working hard to fulfill your promise to yourself.
5. Make an action plan: Goals are just small steps towards our vision or the big picture. If you want to understand why you need to follow your goals more, it’s time to make an action plan. An action plan will show the big picture and your small goals towards it. With it, you can see your progress and how much work is left towards achieving your goals.
By creating an action plan, you can help encourage yourself to work hard because you can see how with the hard work you’re giving every day, you’re slowly achieving small steps closer to who you want to be.
6. Use a timeline: It’s tougher to remember your deadlines are just listed on paper. If you’re not that good with deadlines, you can benefit well from using a timeline. Using one will help you visualize your goals, your progress, and the remaining work. With a timeline, you can gain a sense of urgency to help you comply with the deadlines.
7. Commitment: It’s one thing to set goals and deadlines; it’s another to fully commit to pouring in the hard work needed to ensure that you’re going to achieve them. When setting your goals, you have to make sure that your goals are something that you can commit to accomplishing.
Goal-setting is all about making progress. If you don’t commit to making progress, then all the work you did trying to create an elaborate list of goals will be all for nothing.
Always Evaluate Your Goals
What if you followed the steps above, but you just can’t get into your rhythm, and you keep failing to achieve your goals and follow deadlines no matter how hard you try? Or what if you have done everything, but you just don’t have the will to work for your goals?
It’s a tricky situation that can lead you to feel self-doubt and experience a decrease in confidence. However, sometimes, it’s not because you don’t put in the work or commitment needed to accomplish your goals. Sometimes, it’s just because you’re trying to achieve the wrong goals.
Actually, even if you’re doing just fine, re-evaluating your goals is something that you should do, too.
To evaluate your goals, take the time to look at your list of goals, progress on the action plan and timeline, and try to figure out the cause of your struggles. If you’re struggling with everything, even with all the hard work you put in, then maybe it’s time that you try to make your goals more attainable.
But, the most important thing is figuring out if you’re still going in the right direction. Do you still see yourself in the big picture you’re trying to paint as you work hard every day? If not, consider starting from scratch and finding new goals that will keep you motivated and lead you to become the person you want to be.
Remember, you can always want something so bad now and find out that you don’t even care for it tomorrow.
Are things not going the way that they should be going? Are you failing to achieve the goals and expectations you set for yourself? While it’s important to work hard and commit to your goals, sometimes, life just brings us so much to handle that it’s tough to keep track of everything.
Yes, hard work is vital to achieve your goals and realize your vision. But, if you fail to do so from time to time, don’t beat yourself up about it. Give yourself a break. Achieving goals means progress, but nobody’s perfect.
Achieving your goals doesn’t have to sacrifice your happiness and physical and mental well-being. Relax; life isn’t always about being the best. Remember, it’s one thing to achieve your full potential; it’s quite another to be healthy and well enough to enjoy it when you finally get there.
Life is like a game. There are goals you need to achieve before you get to the next stage and enjoy the rewards. But, just like a video game, you can rarely get through the entire game without failing a mission here and there. But, the key to finishing the game and getting what you want is to keep trying and putting in your best effort. In the end, you will succeed in achieving your goals.
Setting life goals isn’t the easiest thing. You have to make sure to keep everything realistic. Even more important, you need to have the right mindset and discipline to manage your personal expectations and to put in the hard work.
As we said earlier, it’s easy to dream about big things. But in reality, it’s all about the small steps you take to follow your vision and become the best version of yourself.