If you are ready to set and achieve big life goals that matter to you, you are in the right place. This article is all about setting and accomplishing our most important life goals. It comes fully equipped with printable setting life goals worksheets. The resources in this article will help you start visioning, dreaming, planning for, and taking action toward the life you truly want. Time is precious, so let’s get started.
Why Should We Set Life Goals?
Why does it matter – this setting life goals stuff, you ask? Well, because we only get this one wild and precious life and the reality is, we have the choice to live it however we want. Yes, sometimes we are dealt with life circumstances that are difficult and challenging. Some people are dealt with extraordinarily challenging life circumstances.
Many people move forward despite those challenges, and set big, bold life goals. It may be a difficult reality to accept, but we all get to choose how to respond to our circumstances.
Take Amy Purdy, for instance. Amy contracted a rare form of meningitis when she was just 19 years old. This illness caused Amy to lose both of her legs and struggle with her health from a very young age. After going through this life-altering experience, Amy challenged herself to move forward with her life and achieve goals that even those who have both legs struggle to achieve.
Amy Purdy is now a three time Paralympic medalist, a motivational speaker with a TEDx talk, an author, an American actress, and a model. She is a para-snowboarder, clothing designer, and co-founder of Adaptive Action Sports. To get inspired about setting and achieving big life goals, we need not look any further than Amy Purdy for inspiration.
Setting Life Goals – It’s Our Life, It’s Our Choice
Tough love – we can choose to complain and create excuses all the way to our grave; OR we can decide to live a meaningful and fulfilling life doing what we love, no matter our circumstances. It’s all our choice.
Our life, our choice. How liberating is that?
I’m a firm believer that we can set and achieve any life goal we choose. It’s all a matter of creating a vision and plan for life, managing our mindset and attitude for success, and taking small, consistent steps each day toward the things we want in our life. When setbacks arise, we deal with them, but we keep moving forward anyway.
The six-part framework for success is:
- Create a vision and a plan for what you want in your life.
- Take small, consistent action steps toward your goals each day.
- Show up consistently for yourself. When you hold yourself accountable, it builds self-confidence to keep going.
- Manage your mindset and attitude for success.
- Celebrate the small wins along the way and appreciate the journey and your growth along the way. Live by the mantra, “You will get there. Until then, be here.” This mantra reminds you to live each day, rather than living for the future when you reach your destination.
- Surround yourself with like-minded and like-hearted people. These should be people who help to hold you accountable to yourself, lift you up, encourage you when setbacks occur, and celebrate your successes.
Yes, there will be setbacks, delays, and sometimes failures, but all of those things are just teaching us something . They are life lessons. Life lessons learned through setbacks can propel us forward toward our goals as long as we choose to respond that way. It’s all learning and growth and the universe giving us feedback, as long as we choose to allow it in. We can then readjust our plan based on what we learned from the setback.
“You will get there. Until then, be here.”Melissa Therrien
What Do We Want to Do with Our One Wild and Precious Life?
If we have the opportunity to live to an average life expectancy of 80.5, then we get 29,383 days to live each day the way we choose. It’s mind boggling how quickly time passes. If we aren’t careful, one day can blend into the next and before we know it, the week is behind us, then the month, and before we know it, the entire year.
In certain seasons of life, life seems to pass even more quickly. As we get older, we begin to realize the incredible value of time. If we are faced with a devastating illness or a tragic loss that reminds us just how short life is, it can be quite earth shattering. This can lead to a jarring awakening that makes us rethink how we are spending our time.
If we are fortunate enough to have our health and the capability to think, plan, and take action, we have a luxury not afforded to everyone. Let’s do what matters most to us and choose to live each day in a meaningful way.
So what are some considerations when setting life goals?
Setting Life Goals – Balance is Key
Life is about balance. When we are contemplating life goals, it’s important to consider all aspects of life so we are not disproportionately spending all of our time trying to accomplish goals in just one area. Take career and business as an example. If we are spending all our time focused on our work goals and neglecting our health or our family, our life is likely to be out of alignment.
Wheel of Life Categories for Setting Life Goals
The Wheel of Life provides a great framework for setting goals in the various areas of your life. There are a couple of variations to the wheel of life categories, but a common version is shown below.
Download the Wheel of Life worksheet and complete the exercise to assess how you currently feel about your life in each major life category.
In this version of the wheel of life, there are 8 categories.
- Family & Friends
- Money & Finances
- Career or Business
- Personal Growth
- Fun & Leisure
- Love/Romantic Relationship
- Physical Environment
Let’s consider each of these life categories with some examples of life goals in each area.
Setting Life Goals – Family & Friends
In this category of life, we consider our relationships with family and friends. Perhaps we want to improve the quality of our relationships with certain people in our lives. Maybe we’ve lost touch with an important friend or we can’t seem to make time for extended family.
We might set a long-term family goal to grow our relationship with our special aunt or one of our friends. In support of that goal, we might set a monthly goal of initiating at least 4 communications with this family member or friend and at least one get-together. Then each week, we would set a weekly goal of calling this person or arranging a visit on a specific day and make specific plans to do so.
In the busy, fast-paced world we live in today, we all lead complex lives. We are often balancing our own families, careers, marriages, homes, our children’s schedules and activities, and numerous responsibilities. It can be very easy to lose touch with loved ones and friends. It’s certainly not because we don’t care about them or love them, but realistically there are only so many hours in a day.
If we set a specific goal to grow our relationship with a certain cherished family member or friend and then take intentional efforts to make that happen, we WILL fit it in and make time for what’s important to us.
We simply need to take small, intentional actions.
Setting Life Goals – Money & Finances
We can have short-term or long-term goals in any category and it’s helpful to set both. Financial goals can range from paying down debt, to learning to invest, to creating a family budget, to something as simple as starting to save $25 per week.
Setting overarching life goals around money and finances are important because of the time value of money. Investing even a little bit of money each month can grow to a great investment because of the compounding effect. Investing only $100 per month for 40 years, let’s say from age 20 to age 60 at an average growth rate of 8% will lead to a savings of almost $350,000! The amount you saved was only $48,000 ($100 x 12 months x 40 years), but because of the compounding effect and time value of money, you would grow your investment to nearly $350,000!
Can you see the value of setting life goals around money? This example reflects the value of saving only $100/month. Imagine if you were able to invest more than that. Simply choose a specific amount of money that works for you and set your money and finance goals.
It pays off to think ahead. Imagine the possibilities. What are your financial and money goals?
Setting Life Goals – Health
It pays off to think ahead about our health also. In this area of life, we consider nutrition, fitness, exercise, sleep, hydration, and scheduling all of our routine medical appointments. There are many aspects to our health including mental wellness, physical health, and emotional health.
Whether it’s setting goals around adding more movement and exercise into our life or eating more balanced, healthy meals each day, setting goals and building daily habits are important for maintaining our health in the long run. Without overarching life goals related to our health, we can inadvertently let the fast pace of life take over and let our health slip.
Health goals are truly a cornerstone to a long and happy life. This is a category for goal setting that would serve us well to make a top priority.
Setting Life Goals – Career or Business
Setting career goals can allow us to take a big picture perspective on our career path.
“Climbing the corporate ladder” is only one of many options. Becoming an expert in your field (going deep in a particular area), or learning a lot about many aspects of your field (going broad in your industry), are a couple of different ways to consider your career goals.
We work so many hours of our lives. We want to set career goals that keep us challenged and excited to wake up every day to do meaningful work. It’s good to have work that both challenges and fulfills us, allowing us to rise to our potential. Work that is purposeful and makes use of our skills, talents, and passions helps us to live a life of meaning and significance.
Perhaps you have a goal of owning your own business, being your own boss, and having the autonomy and freedom to call your own shots.
In this modern digital world, there are numerous opportunities to make money doing something you love by starting an online business. Due to the vastness of the opportunities online, it’s possible to create time, location, and financial freedom while doing fulfilling work that you enjoy. If you have the dream of starting your own business, it’s possible to first start as a “side hustle”, providing a second source of income until the business grows enough to be your primary income source.
If you’ve considered starting a business, but don’t know where to start, consider an online business model that is highly scalable and can generate passive income over time. Many online business models have significantly lower start-up costs than traditional brick and mortar businesses. This quiz – What Kind of Online Business Should I Start – might spark some ideas to consider.
Setting Life Goals – Personal Growth
Personal growth is a category of goal setting that includes goals like becoming a better communicator, improving our conflict resolution skills, learning to be more present in the moment, increasing our mindfulness, improving our coping skills and resiliency when life throws challenges our way, increasing our self awareness, and managing our thoughts and emotions.
Learn a new skill, improve existing skills, expand your thoughts and mindset. These are all great ways to grow personally. Focusing on our personal growth is a way of setting a character goal, allowing us to grow and evolve as a person.
Setting Life Goals – Fun & Leisure
Life is actually supposed to be fun. We are not here on earth to grind ourselves into the ground with endless work and deprivation of fun and enjoyment. We are here to live, love, learn, grow and evolve, and enjoy ourselves. Life is really fun if we allow it to be.
A great rule of thumb is to both accomplish something and enjoy something every single day. If our lives are disproportionately filled with productivity and work, we will feel completely out of balance. If we strive to live each day with meaning, intention, and enjoyment and pleasure, then we are truly living full and meaningful lives.
Examples of life goals around fun and leisure include planning travel, or allowing time to focus on a hobby. Consider leisure activities like painting, reading, playing an instrument, joining a club sports team, spending time in nature kayaking or gardening, going to trivia, going antiquing, watching a movie, or any other activity that you find enjoyable.
Set some life goals around fun and leisure and see if you can increase the amount of enjoyment in your life.
Setting Life Goals – Love/Romantic Relationship
An ideal relationship is one that makes us feel most like our authentic self.
While listening to a relationship coach being interviewed on a podcast she said, “being in a poor quality relationship where only one side is willing to put in the effort is like watering a plastic plant. No matter what you do, the plant will not grow.”
However in an intimate, close relationship where both partners are invested in the relationship, setting life goals around your relationship can lead to a level of closeness and intimacy that is very fulfilling.
Relationship goals might involve exploring life and learning new things together, planning consistent date nights, continuously improving communication with one another, or exploring new levels of intimacy.
Setting Life Goals – Physical Environment
The types of goals in this wheel of life category involve goal setting related to our physical surroundings where we spend the most time, such as our homes and our work environment. Creating physical spaces that are calming and comfortable can bring a sense of peace and stability to our lives.
Examples of goals in this category of life might be putting a fresh coat of paint on your bedroom walls to make it more calming and peaceful for better sleep, reducing clutter in your office at work to bring some mental peace and clarity, adding some plants to your living space to bring elements of nature inside, or simply spending more time in a cozy and peaceful space in your home.
With all these endless possibilities to set new life goals, where do we even begin?
Setting Life Goals – What is the Goal Setting Process?
Begin with your big vision. Perhaps even consider creating a vision board. Think about all the different areas of life in the wheel of life. Let your mind wander and dream and vision about all the aspects of your life. What do you really want? What kind of life do you want to create? It’s never too late to begin thinking this way.
Seriously, what do you really want out of life?
Assess your life in each category of life using this Wheel of Life Assessment tool.
Once you assess your current state in each category, then craft your big vision.
It’s important to work toward only 2-3 big life goals at any given time. That doesn’t mean you can’t craft the vision for all areas of your life and set those big, bold life goals. It simply means that actively working toward 2-3 goals at one time increases the likelihood that you will achieve them. If everything is a priority, then nothing is truly the priority.
Next, we want to get very specific.
Setting SMART Goals
You have already likely heard about smart goal setting. In this goal setting methodology, you set a highly specific goal using the SMART goals framework.
To set SMART goals, they must be:
Specific (S), measurable (M), achievable (A), relevant (R), and timebound (T).
This essentially means that you want very concrete goals. You want goals for which you can measure progress. You want goals that can be broken down into actionable steps so they are achievable. Goals should be relevant to your broader life vision and values, and they also should include a specific time frame attached to the goal, such as 3 months or 6 months.
The best way to achieve major life goals is to take small, consistent steps on a daily basis toward your goal. We sometimes look at goal achievement as this elusive concept, but it’s really not. It just takes setting specific, very concrete goals, creating an action plan to achieve them, and then taking consistent, small steps each day that align with those goals. Download these 10 Mindset Shifts to Begin Actively Pursuing Your Goals to get into an effective mindset for goal setting and achievement.
Setting Life Goals Worksheet
While the SMART goals framework suggests setting realistic goals, when we are setting life goals, it’s important to dream big. We get this one wild and precious life, it’s not the time to be “practical”. You can get practical when breaking down your big goals into small, manageable steps.
Have you ever heard the saying, “big hairy audacious goal” or a BHAG? It’s a term that was originally coined by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in their book, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. While the term BHAG was initially conceived in relation to corporate goal setting, it’s now discussed in the context of personal goal setting. It basically means exactly what it sounds like – dream big and set bold, important and audacious life goals.
I created this goal setting worksheet as an effective tool to outline your life goals in each major category of your life. Again, I strongly encourage you to dream big, be bold, use your creativity, and set goals that are big and audacious. This is our one life, we meant to truly live it fully, intentionally, and meaningfully.
Daily Goals Worksheet
Goal-setting worksheets are a great way to take big ideas and big goals, and break them down into actionable smaller steps that are manageable and achievable. You want to have smaller actionable goals that fit into the context of your larger goals.
Break the goal down into quarterly tasks, monthly tasks, weekly tasks, and daily tasks. By breaking it down into short-term goals and a solid action plan, you will have action steps that are 100% achievable. This is how you set big, bold life goals and achieve them.
Use this printable daily goals worksheet as a useful tool to set personal goals and then break your big goal into small steps.
Once we set life goals, if we stick with them we can make great progress over time. Consistency and commitment pay off in the long run. I wrote an article with many helpful tips on how to stay focused on goals to help you remain committed to your most important life goals.
Goals and Dreams
Ultimately we all want to live a happy life. What happiness means and how we achieve that happiness will be different for everyone. The process of dreaming big and looking at the big picture of your life can help you create a vision for the life you want to live.
We get one chance to live this precious life, why on earth wouldn’t we try to set and achieve life goals that matter to us? Even if we aim for the moon and miss, we might still land in the stars, and what a beautiful place to land.
If we aim for nothing, we will spend our whole lives gazing upward and only dreaming.
In the words of the famous American poet:
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?Mary Oliver