Last Updated on: September 5, 2023
I have achieved a lot of the goals I have set for myself so far.
But, more importantly, these are goals I actually wanted to achieve.
Goals are important. They keep us focused and give us something to aim for.
Most people will tell you they have goals, but too often, they are broad and generic.
When you first think of goals, they usually go something like this:
- “I want to be rich”/”I want to have $1,000,000 in my bank account.”
- “I want to marry a beautiful woman/man.”
- “I want a big house by the sea.”
- “I want to run a successful business.”
- “I want a great career.”
- “I want three happy children.”
- “I want to lose weight.”
The first problem with these goals is that you are unlikely to reach them. The bigger problem comes when you do.
If you reach a goal like “$1,000,000 in my bank account”, you will likely find that you had everything upside down.
What did you sacrifice to get there? What are you doing with that money? Has it made you happy?
These types of goals don’t consider what it takes to actually get there or if it’s something you really want.
They are not just vague; they lack your true personality.
If you think deeper about your goal to earn money, there is something more to it. Why do you want that money? What do you want to do with it? What will it bring you?
Your answer might be that you want to travel more and have lots of free time. And there it is; your true goal.
Now, if you look deeper at how to achieve that, you might find a different way. You can travel without a lot of money, and you can have free time with a simpler local independent job.
Before you settle on a goal, try to get to the bottom of what YOU really want.
Do you want to lose weight? Or do you want to be more confident in your body? They are two very different things that can be achieved differently.
Quite often, when we break down these goals, we find out more about ourselves and some tired old beliefs that need throwing away.
Finding the End Goal
Earning money, losing weight, having a successful business… these could be an important part of achieving your goal, but they are not the end goal.
If your end goal is to live on the beachfront with a boat, you are going to need some money for that.
If you want to run a marathon, you might need to lose weight as part of your training.
Find the end goal – what do you really want to achieve?
Every Goal has a Sacrifice
You are going to sacrifice something to achieve your goal.
If you want that house on the beach, you will need to earn money, and that will take your time and energy.
Is it worth that tradeoff to you?
A true goal is one that makes you happy when you think about it. It is a goal that comes from you and your personality.
If the goal comes from an expectation or comparison with society or your family and friends, it’s probably not a goal in line with your beliefs.
The goal might cause you some stress, but if it’s a constant source of worry and negativity, think again if it is really for you.
Your true goals might be buried deep down. Keep looking.
How I Find my True Goals
I ask myself questions about what my perfect day would look like. I repeat that for my perfect week, my perfect year and my perfect lifetime.
I try to keep an open mind, have fun and not limit myself.
How can you get in touch with yourself and enjoy the daydream of what your life will be like?
Some of the questions I ask:
The perfect day – What do I see when I open my eyes? What is my house like when I get out of bed? Who is there with me? How much time do I spend working? What is the weather like? What am I going to do that day?
My perfect week – What did the week look like? Who did I spend it with? How much exercise did I do? Did I play any sports? What did I eat? What did I do for work? Where am I? What am I doing next week? Do I have a routine, or is it spontaneous?
My perfect year – What new skills did I learn this year? Where did I visit? How much time did I spend with my family? Did I make any new friends? Did I stay in touch with old friends? How many parties did I go to? Did I teach anybody? Did I give any money to charity? Did I start a business? Did I close a business?
When you ask yourself these questions (and maybe your own questions), something will come out that you probably didn’t expect.
Explore these questions, play with them and daydream some more until you really feel your true goals.
Being Realistic With Your Goals
Sometimes our goals conflict with our life. We can only see that when we break them down.
You can’t quite have it all. It’s very unlikely that you will start a profitable business while spending a silent year in a cave with Tibetan monks.
As David Allen famously wrote, “You can do anything, but not everything.”
Think about your goals realistically and look for areas they might conflict. Some questions you can explore:
Do You Have the Time? – Most goals need time. Either that is your actual time spent on the goal, or it’s a period of time before the goal can be reached or both.
Do You Have the Energy? – It’s going to take up your mental and/or physical resources in some way. Do you have enough focus when you consider your other goals and commitments?
Do You Need Money? – Do you have it already, or do you need to earn it as part of your goal?
What Does it Rely On? – Maybe your goal involves other people, a bit of luck, and the right weather conditions.. whatever it is, break it down as part of your goal.
The good news is this will help you fine-tune the goals you want the most or what you want to achieve first.
For example, focus on becoming a monk for a year and then start your business after.
Falling in Love with your Goal
Imagine yourself achieving this goal.
Picture it. Enjoy it. See the effect it has on your life and those around you.
How does your goal feel? What does it look like? Keep it in your mind, dare to dream and get excited about it.
Stick it up on your wall and look at it every day. Save it on your phone background. Set yourself reminders to think about it.
This may feel a bit hippy, but it’s fun, and it works.
Try summarising your goal in a simple sentence that means something to you.
When I was younger, I decided I wanted to live on the beach where the sun was always shining. I pictured it in detail and worked out all the little steps to that goal.
I somehow came across this sentence: “The dream of wearing shorts forever”.
I don’t know where it came from, but it made sense to me, and I attached it to my goal. Thinking about it brought the feeling and everything about that goal back to me.
Whatever you do and however you do it, just make sure you feel that goal.
A Summary of Real Goals
A real, genuine, achievable goal:
- Is personal and unique to us
- Is exciting when we think about it
- Is something we really want, not what we think we want
- Includes a breakdown of how we get to that goal
- Doesn’t conflict with our other goals or
- Is something you can feel, visualise and smile about
Run your goal by this list and keep tweaking it until it fits.
When Goals Don’t Work Out
We don’t always get it right the first time.
Remember my goal from before?
“The dream of wearing shorts forever”
For me, this meant waking up in a beach hut, drinking from a fresh coconut and kite surfing all day.
I achieved that goal, and it was fun.. for a while.
Very quickly, I got used to it. I didn’t appreciate it as much as before.
I started to think that there was more to life than this every day.
Eventually, I realised that my happiness also comes from helping others and a more balanced life. It also comes from pushing myself further and achieving more.
So I changed my goal, and I learned something.
Keep your mind open all along the journey. You will learn something about yourself, and sometimes your goals will change.
Taking Action on Your Goals
Once you have a true goal, taking action will be easier. When you really feel your goal is genuinely for you, you will find a way every day to push yourself towards it.
In a future post, I will explore more about how to break down, take action and achieve your goals.
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