Have you ever set a goal, reached it, and then realize that this is not what you wanted? In my last article, I talked about the importance of being clear about what you want. Now I want to talk about how to set goals that will fulfill you. That will not let you with a feeling of emptiness.
Because too often, we chase material things, we chase achievements such as getting a promotion, getting a degree, getting more money. But all of these are mean goals. Let me tell you what I learned about setting goals and how to choose the right goals for you.
1. End goal vs mean goal
Let’s take the example of money. We often hear: my goal is to have a decent salary, my goal is to earn x amount of money. But that’s not true right? Money is a means to an end. You want that money so that you can do something with it. Support your family, live an experience, go on vacation, buy food, etc… Money is not the end goal.
My point is: do not lose sight of why you want to accomplish something. Because too often we can get trapped in the process and forget about the end result.
Let me give you another example. I read a story about a girl who wanted to live in a house next to the beach. But she had not enough revenue. A logical goal would have been “get a job with a 3000$/month salary”. But instead, she asked herself, so that I can do what? And the answer was “so that I can live next to the beach”. So she changed her goal to “do what’s necessary to live next to the beach”. And soon, she found a woman who needed someone to take care of a beautiful house, next to the beach, and thus, she could live in it without paying! You see, here, the 3000$ salary was not the real goal, it was just a means to an end.
So focus on the end goal, focus on WHY you’re doing what you’re doing. Don’t worry about how you will get there. Focus on the result you want and the path will reveal itself.
2. Focus on how it will make you feel
A good way to set goals is to focus on how they will make you feel when you achieve them. It will give you more motivation, it will be more aligned with your feelings.
We often set neutral goals, just about figures, and we forget about our emotions. But if something is important, it will make us feel a special way. Indeed, which formulation do you find more powerful?
- “I want to earn 3000$ per month” or “I want to earn 3000$ per month so that I can travel the world and feel alive”?
My point is, when you write down your goal, include the end goal (paragraph 1) and the emotions. Make sure that the goal you’re setting matters to YOU. That it’s not to please society, family or peers. It allows you to choose the right goals for you.
3. If possible, focus on never-ending goals, and start today
If you can, write down your goal in a way that it can never end. For instance:
“I want to practice acting every day” instead of “I want to become an actor”. Here the end goal in “I want to become an actor” is acting, because the person loves it. When you put the focus somewhere in the future, it disconnects you from your goal. But if you can formulate your goal in a way that it never ends, the powerful thing is that you can start today. It’s like saying “I want to always learn and grow”, “I want to live amazing experiences” or “I want to save 20% of my earnings”. These are open goals, focused on the end, and that you can start today.
4. Sum Up
To sum up, these are the most powerful techniques that I used when I set my goals. Use them to choose the right goals for you:
- Focus on the end goal, by asking yourself “so that?”
- Include feelings
- Formulate it so that it never ends, and start today
I use these techniques to set end goals, and then I can think about intermediate goals. For instance: “I want to feel fit and healthy” is my end goal. Then, the goals to get there might be more specific and actionable, such as “exercise 20min every day”.
So go ahead, think about how you want your life to be, find the real reasons and motivations behind, and set your end goals. Then, map out your way until there!