How to Set Goals: It’s Not Hard, and It Will Change Your Life

Learning how to set goals is essential to success and happiness in life. Without personal goal setting, we may feel lost and unmotivated. It’s part of human nature to want to grow, learn, achieve and advance our position in life. Yet so often we find ourselves stagnating and feeling as though we’re unhappy for some intangible reason. More often than not, it’s because you have failed to seek purpose, set goals and strive for something. Here are some practical tips to help you get more out of life and feel satisfied.

Once you learn how to set goals, you’ll need to break down your goals into smaller, achievable steps. You must set short term and long term goals in order to be successful. If you are in your first year of college and your goal is to be a WBTV reporter, you must write a list: 1) finish college, 2) work at the college TV station, 3) write up a resume, 4) intern at a local TV station, 5) buy professional clothes for job interview, 6) read up on job interviewing skills, 7) apply to WBTV. Your short term goals may be to make your resume and work at the college TV station: these are things you can immediately work on now to feel a small sense of accomplishment and progress. Your long term goals, then, will be finishing school and working at WBTV.

Once you learn how to set goals, the trick is to create an organized life goal list. For instance, your overall goal may be to clean your room — which, over time, has become a disaster area. On your list, it doesn’t make sense for you to “put away laundry” before you “pick up laundry off the floor and wash it.” You won’t be able to “dust the dresser” until you have “thrown out paperwork on dresser” and “put away clothes sitting on dresser.” If your list is organized, you will be better able to meet all your short term goals, which will eventually lead you to your long term goal of having a clean bedroom.

After learning how to set goals, some people find it hard to pursue the plan. Often times, they have set far too many goals for themselves and don’t know where to begin. Perhaps you hate your retail job, your partner is aggravating you to no end, you want to be more involved in your guitar playing hobby, you know you need better time management skills and you want to spend more time visiting with your family. All these impending goals can actually make you feel unhappy if you feel swamped by them and overwhelmed. Instead, try to focus on which particular area is making you most unhappy. Maybe your job has you ready to pull your hair out each and every day, whereas your partner is a mere annoyance for now. Start with pursuing your job change and begin to work your way toward the other areas once you achieve your first goal. You may find after clearing up one area that the other parts of your life fall into place and you are much happier.

Once you learn how to set goals, you may need to find an effective strategy that works for you, personally. For instance, if you are in $10,000 worth of credit card debt, you’re likely feeling pretty bummed out about the mountain of money owed to various credit card companies. For some people, the most practical strategy is to begin with the credit card balances that have the largest interest rates and pay those off first. This is a smart way to save more money in the long run, even though it takes longer to accomplish. Some people find it inspiring to see the biggest monkeys on their back fall off. For other people, the most inspiring way to tackle debt is to begin with cards that have the smallest balances because they can be paid off faster, their motivation remains high and the sense of personal achievement is greater.

It’s time to stop procrastinating; read our guide to effective goal setting techniques at i Know How: Information for Life.

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