I’ve read many books that stress the importance of understanding your personal goals, getting clear about what’s most important to you in life. My goal is to explain the process of living with integrity to your goals, so you learn how to consciously use your goals to make decisions and take action.
Why Do Goals Matter?
Many people have goals in life but
do not know how to go about achieving them. This is because they are not clear
where to lay their focus. The main benefit of choosing your goals consciously
is that you will gain tremendous clarity and focus, but ultimately you must use
that newfound clarity to make consistent decisions and take committed action.
So the whole point of discovering your goals is to improve the results you get
in those areas that are truly most important to you.
Goals are priorities that tell you
how to spend your time, right here, right now. There are two reasons that
priorities are important for our lives.
The first reason is that time is our
most limited resource; time does not renew itself. Once we spend a day, it’s
gone forever. If we waste that day by investing our time in actions that don’t
produce the results we want, that loss is permanent. We can earn more money,
improve our physical bodies, and repair broken relationships, but we cannot
redo yesterday. Here on earth, we appear to be mortal with limited life spans,
and if we value our mortal lives, then it’s logical to invest them as best we
can. You’re free to decide what “best” means to you. The very idea
that some areas of your life appeal to you more than others means that having
goals will be of great benefit to you.
The second reason priorities matter
is that we human beings tend to be fairly inconsistent in how we invest our
time and energy. Most of us are easily distracted. It’s easy for us to fall
into the trap of living by different priorities every day. One day you
exercise; the next day you slack off. One day you work productively; the next
day you’re stricken with laziness. If we don’t consciously use our priorities
to stick to a clear and consistent course, we’ll naturally drift off course and
shift all over the place. And this kind of living will not only yields poor
results but it will also lead us to start blaming everyone for our failures
instead of taking responsibility of our own lives.
So for these two reasons – limited
time and a typically low index of distraction – consciously knowing and living
by our goals become extremely important. Goals act as our compass to put us
back on course every single day, so that day after day, we’re moving in the
direction that takes us closer and closer to our definition of the
“best” life we could possibly live. The “best” is your own
ideal, but generally as you get closer to this ideal, you’ll enjoy increasingly
positive shades of “better” even if you never reach “best.”
Because you can’t do everything at
once, you have to prioritize which ones are most precious to you. You may not
be able to achieve all the things you wish to achieve within the span of your
lifetime because you probably don’t know how long your lifetime will be; nor
can you be certain how long it will take to achieve each goal. But realize that
the closer you get to achieve each goal, the better that area of your life will
To create your own personal goals
hierarchy, the question to ask yourself is this: What is truly important to me
Brainstorm a list of your goals as
your answers to this question. Try to reduce your responses to a single word or
two. For example, one of your answers may be, “successful career” Don’t
worry about the order of your list yet or how long it is. Just get everything
down in writing.
So you might end up with a list that
looks something like this:
- good grades
- having a job
- good Health
- having Fun
- Successful career
- inner Peace
The next step is to prioritize your
list. This is usually the most time consuming and difficult step because it
requires some intense thinking
So you may begin by asking yourself
these questions: Which of these goals is truly the most important to me in life?
If I could only satisfy one of these goals, which one would it be? The answer
to this question is your number one goal. Then move down the list and ask which
remaining goal is the next most important to you, and so on, until you’ve
sorted the whole list in priority order.
Sometimes the highest priority goal
will be obvious to you. Other times you’ll have it narrowed down to a few
choices but will have a hard time figuring out which one is really the most
important among those.
By prioritizing your goals
consciously, you’ll be able to rely on them when you need to make important
decisions in the future. If you know that what is truly most important to you
in life is to experience inner peace for example, then it will be easier for
you to say no to those things that take you away from peace.
So again, write out your goals.
Decide which ones are truly most important to you. Prioritize them. And in this
case it’s fine if you have more than 10-15. More than 100 is even OK; it will
just take longer to prioritize.
These goals represent the
experiences that you feel are part of the “best” life you could live.
I don’t mean a good life or even a great life – I mean the best life. If a life
where going to Europe wouldn’t be the absolute best for you, then you’d better
not include that goal on your list.
Now that you have your goals
hierarchy, pick the top one or two goals, and consciously devise a values list
that will lead you to achieve them. Let’s say your goals list is prioritized as
above, so your #1 goal is good grades. Studying daily can be your #1 value.
Then you might make self-discipline your #2 value, so you’ll stick to your
study program. You must design these values based on your own personal
circumstances. It makes no sense for some one without an accounting certificate
to go out looking for a job as an accountant. Like any skill this takes practice, but over time
you’ll become better and better at designing your values to adapt to your