How to Make a Life Goal that Truly Matters

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Setting a life goal is like setting the destination on your GPS. It gives you direction and a purpose to work towards.

It empowers you because it allows you to take personal responsibility for your future. Instead of being a passive bystander, you become the architect of your destiny as you chart a course towards your desired destination.

But not all life goals are created equal. Some may seem achievable but lack meaning, while others may seem impossible but have a deep personal significance. Setting achievable goals is crucial as it helps you prioritize, break down goals into smaller components, set deadlines, anticipate obstacles, and stay motivated throughout the process.

In this post, we will explore how to make a life goal that truly matters to you. You’ll be able to create a goal that not only motivates and inspires you, but also aligns with your values and desires.

Let’s get started!

What Is a Life Goal?

A life goal is an overarching vision of your ideal future, including all the different aspects you want in your life. It can give your life purpose and meaning — reaching beyond the horizon of your daily duties and immediate plans.

Your goal can encompass what you want in all areas of your life, such as personal, professional, and spiritual. A life goal should resonate with your passions and your vision for the kind of person you’d like to become. Setting personal goals involves creating specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely milestones that align with your long-term objectives.

It’s helpful to think about what parts of your life are most important to you. Whether it’s nurturing relationships, excelling in a career, achieving personal wellness, or experiencing financial freedom, clarity in your goals is essential.

Setting personal life goals is a powerful aspect of the human experience and helps shape your journey and define what’s most important to you.

Do You Need a Life Goal?

The path to setting a life goal is a highly personal. While some people find comfort in structure and clear direction, others flourish in the unpredictable and spontaneous nature of life.

There is abundant research highlighting the impact of setting and pursuing goals. They can give you direction, enhance your motivation, and fill your life with purpose, personal growth, and fulfillment.

A counter-argument could be made for finding contentment in your life as it is, rather than waiting for a future date to finally feel happy and fulfilled. Various spiritual practices highlight the value of living in the present moment to tap into a deeper sense of joy and meaning.

However, these seemingly opposing views can actually complement each other beautifully. It’s possible to work towards a life goal while remaining present and enjoying each moment along the way.

This balanced approach allows for the pursuit of long-term aspirations while savoring the journey and cultivating a greater appreciation for life’s fleeting moments. Instead of only fixating on a specific end goal, which will inevitably change over time, the focus is more on who you are becoming and what you learn along the way.

Perhaps this is the real secret to a happy life — continuous growth and a deeper bliss in your daily experiences.

Steps to Make Your Life Goal

Goal setting can be a powerful way to bring focus and direction to your life. Whether it’s a career milestone, a personal achievement, or a lifestyle change, a clear goal can help guide your decisions and actions. The goal setting process is crucial in this journey, as it provides a structured approach to defining and pursuing your objectives.

Here are some steps to help you define and pursue your life goal.

1. Identify Your Core Personal Values and Passions

To identify your core values and passions, start by reflecting on what truly matters to you. Find some quiet time to think about what you believe in.

Consider these prompts as a starting point:

  • What qualities do I admire in others?
  • When do I feel most fulfilled or proud of myself?
  • What causes or issues am I passionate about?
  • What kind of person do I want to be remembered as?
  • What values do I want to guide my actions and decisions?

Write down any values that come to mind, without judging or censoring them. Allow yourself to brainstorm freely, and don’t worry about organizing or prioritizing them at this stage. These are some examples:

  1. Authenticity
  2. Inclusion
  3. Adventure
  4. Creativity
  5. Contribution

Group these values into categories that share common themes to help identify your core values. From these categories, select the values that resonate most with you, using your list to determine which values appear most frequently.

Next, think about which activities, subjects, or causes ignite a strong sense of enthusiasm and fulfillment within you. What sparks your interest? Which article or video topics do you regularly read or watch? What could you spend hours talking about without getting tired?

Ask friends, family, or mentors what they think your strengths and passions are. Sometimes, others can see things in us that we overlook. Our childhood interests can give us hints about our true passions as well.

You will find that your core values and passions will be closely intertwined. Understanding them is essential to creating a goal that feels authentic and meaningful for you. Aligning your goals with your personal values increases the likelihood of success and ensures that your pursuits are truly fulfilling.

2. Write Your Life Goal

When you write down your goals, it’s like setting a chain reaction in motion. You are bringing an idea from your imagination into the real world.

Studies show that writing down your goals significantly increases your chances of achieving them. It forces you to clearly define what you want and ignites the motivation to begin the process forward towards your goals.

To begin, consider these categories as you write your goal — each represents a different aspect of your life:

  1. Health
  2. Emotions
  3. Family
  4. Mission/Work
  5. Finances
  6. Adventures
  7. Hobbies
  8. Spirituality
  9. Relationships
  10. Friends

When setting your family goals, think about the objectives that will enhance your family’s well-being and success.

Considering your core values and passions, describe your ideal vision for each of these areas. What specific health goals do you want to achieve? How do you envision your ideal work situation? What spiritual practices or beliefs do you want to cultivate? Try to be as detailed and specific as you can.

Scripting is a powerful way to write your goal. It involves writing a detailed story about a future moment where your goal is already a reality. Scripting usually focuses on a specific goal, but you can also use it to envision your life goal by including all the relevant details.

Another way to solidify your goals is by writing a letter to your future self, detailing all your dreams and goals. As you write, envision yourself in the future, what you’ve accomplished, the person you’ve evolved into, and the excitement you’ll feel when you read the letter after achieving your dreams.

Your growth and experiences on the way to your life goal will reveal more of who you truly are, and therefore, what you want may change as you evolve. Your goal is meant to guide you, not confine you to a fixed destination. Feel empowered to adjust it as needed to stay true to who you are becoming.

3. Visualize What Your Life Will Look Like

Visualization has been used for thousands of years as a powerful tool to accomplish goals. It involves using the mind to imagine and feel what you want in vivid detail.

Various cultures, including ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Shamanaic traditions, have used visualization techniques for spiritual, mental, and physical well-being.

Modern studies show that visualizing your goals can enhance sports performance, elevate mood, and even improve physical health. When you visualize the life you desire, you set in motion a mental process that helps you move towards its realization in a way that seems almost magical.

To visualize your life goal:

  1. Find a quiet, comfortable place where you can sit and not be disturbed.

  2. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing, relaxing every part of your body from the top of your head down to your toes.

  3. Begin to imagine where you would be if you achieved your goal.

  4. Imagine the people who are important to you and how they fit into your life.

  5. Visualize yourself engaging in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment — whether it’s pursuing career goals you’re passionate about, traveling to new places, or spending time with loved ones.

  6. Use all your senses to make the visualization as vivid as possible. What do you see, hear, smell, and feel in this ideal life?

  7. Immerse yourself in the emotions of having achieved your goal. Intensify the feeling as much as possible.

  8. Bring yourself back when you feel completely fulfilled.

Repetition is crucial for imprinting your life goal into the subconscious mind — the source of our habits, motivations, and beliefs. Repeatedly visualizing your goal will reinforce its importance, which gradually influences your mind to align your actions with your desired outcome.

family on a hike looking at mountain

4. Create an Action Plan for Achievable Goals

Crafting an action plan is an important step in turning your life goal into a reality. This process bridges the gap between imagination and the external world. It makes your goal feel more attainable and motivates you to take consistent action.

  1. Start by identifying 3-5 categories from your list above that you want to work on first.

  2. Set specific and measurable goals for each area. Use the SMART goals criteria — Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

  3. Prioritize your goals based on their importance and urgency, considering their impact on your overall well-being and progress.

  4. Develop a timeline for achieving each goal, and break them down into smaller milestones with set deadlines to keep you accountable and motivated.

  5. Once you have your goals and timeline in place, create actionable steps for each goal. Determine the resources, support, and skills you’ll need to reach each step.

Many people find it useful to block out specific times for different tasks. This approach, known as Parkinson’s Law, suggests that work tends to expand to fill the time available for its completion. By setting time limits for tasks, you can get more done and keep yourself focused.

Remember, trying something new can be challenging, and mistakes are valuable opportunities for learning and growth. Progress may not always be immediately visible, but consistent, incremental improvements are what ultimately lead to long-term results.

5. Track Progress and Make Adjustments

Tracking your progress is helpful for staying motivated and on track towards your life goal. It allows you to see what is working well and what’s not. It also empowers you to make informed decisions regarding your action plan to achieve life goals.

Keep a journal or use a tracking tool to record your achievements — no matter how small. This allows you to see how far you’ve come and provides a sense of accomplishment, which can boost your confidence and motivation.

Regularly review your action plan and assess your progress. Are you moving closer to your goals? Are there any areas where you’re falling behind?

Be honest with yourself and identify any obstacles or challenges that may be impeding your progress. Life is dynamic, and circumstances may change, requiring you to adapt your approach.

Stay flexible and open-minded, willing to revise your plan as needed to ensure it remains relevant and effective. It’s the ability to adapt and persevere through challenges that ultimately leads to success in achieving your life goal.

6. Let Go of the Outcome

As we discussed earlier, you want to enjoy the journey to your goal, rather than fixating on a specific result. This requires holding your end goal very lightly and accepting that it may change before you get there. And that’s perfectly alright.

Research shows that how you perceive your goals can impact not only your enjoyment in the process, but your behavior after the goal is reached. Viewing a goal as a journey, rather than a destination, can increase the likelihood of maintaining behaviors aligned with that goal even after it’s been achieved.

Process goals focus on the actions and behaviors that need to be performed to achieve a desired outcome, rather than solely on the outcome itself.

Steve Smith, a clinical and sports psychologist, warns against solely focusing on outcome goals, because it can lead to an unhealthy mindset where performance is directly tied to self-worth.

Instead, he advocates for a focus on process goals, which allows you to concentrate on what you can control — your perceptions and behaviors — rather than the outcome, which can be influenced by external factors.

By focusing on process goals such as cultivating more joy, being in the present moment, developing a new skill, and celebrating your progress, you can enjoy the journey itself. You don’t have to wait until you’ve reached your final goal to experience happiness — joy can be in the process. Aligning these process goals with your personal goals ensures that your efforts are meaningful and intrinsically motivated, making the journey more fulfilling.

Examples of a Life Goal

Let’s explore examples of life goals using three different forms: the 10 Categories Life Goal, Scripting Life Goal, and Letter to Your Future Self Life Goal. Each of these examples offers a unique approach to goal setting and can help you create a clear vision for your future.

1. 10 Categories Life Goal

My Core Values: Achieving Balance and Fulfillment

  • Health: Maintain a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and practice mindfulness daily to improve my overall well-being.

  • Emotions: Develop emotional intelligence, practice gratitude, and cultivate positive relationships for my emotional well-being.

  • Family: Strengthen my family relationships through regular communication, quality time spent together, and supporting each other’s goals and dreams.

  • Mission/Work: Work for a company that cares, is balanced and fulfilling, and allows me to pursue my passions, develop new skills, and make a meaningful impact in the world.

  • Finances: Achieve financial stability and independence by setting and sticking to a budget, saving and investing wisely, and setting financial goals.

  • Adventures: Seek out new experiences and challenges, whether through travel, hobbies, or learning new skills, to enrich my life with exciting adventures.

  • Hobbies: Dedicate time to the hobbies and interests that bring me joy and relaxation, and nurture my personal creativity and self-expression.

  • Spirituality: Deepen spiritual practices and beliefs, such as meditation and reading, to grow my inner peace and a sense of connection to something greater.

  • Relationships: Prioritize communication, empathy, and mutual respect for others, including my romantic partner.

  • Friends: Nurture my friendships by staying connected, being supportive, and creating memorable experiences together.

2. Scripting Life Goal

My Beach House Life

“As I step onto the wooden deck of my beach house, the sound of the waves greets me, and I can feel the salty breeze on my skin. The sun is setting, painting the sky pink and orange, casting a warm glow over the sandy shore. I take a deep breath, inhaling the fresh sea air, feeling a sense of peace and tranquility wash over me.

Inside, my cozy home radiates comfort and creativity. The soft sound of music fills the air, and the scent of a delicious meal wafts from the kitchen. I walk through the open living space, decorated with vibrant colors and natural textures, reflecting the beauty of the ocean just outside my door.

Sitting down at my desk, I feel a sense of contentment and fulfillment as I continue my work. I love what I do, and the freedom of working from home on my own business allows me to pursue my passion while having the flexibility to travel and explore new places. I am financially secure, and my relationship with my partner is loving and supportive. I am filled with joy and abundance for the life I created.”

3. Letter to Your Future Self Life Goal

“Dear Future Self,

I hope this letter finds you well and thriving in all aspects of your life. As you read this, I imagine you have achieved your goal of becoming a CEO, leading with integrity and passion. I trust that the journey to this point has been filled with learning, growth, and meaningful connections. Networking has been a key focus for me, and I hope you have cultivated many friendships and career contacts along the way.

I envision you surrounded by our family, who has been there for you every step of the way. Their love and encouragement will have been a source of strength and motivation for you. Also, I hope you have found a partner who supports your dreams and aspirations, adding joy and love to your life.

In your pursuit of success, I hope you have also made time for fun and travel. Owning a beautiful condo in the city has allowed you to enjoy the urban lifestyle while still having the freedom to explore new destinations. Your artistic talent has flourished, I’m sure, and I hope you have found joy in sharing your art with others.

As you continue on your journey, remember how far you’ve come. Keep pushing yourself to new heights, but also remember to savor the moments along the way. Your journey is unique, and I have no doubt that you will continue to achieve great things.

With love and anticipation,
Your Younger Self”

Ready to Make Your Life Goal?

Creating and pursuing a life goal is about more than achieving a specific outcome. It’s an act of defining who you are — a declaration of the kind of life you wish to live.

As you create your life goal, remember that it’s an ever-evolving process that grows with you. Be open to change and willing to adjust your goals as you learn, grow, and discover new passions.

And most importantly, enjoy the journey! Don’t wait until you’ve reached your goal to experience joy and fulfillment — embrace it every step of the way. Your future self will thank you.

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