Have you ever heard of setting goals?  Of course, you have.  This concept is pounded into our heads from the time we are young.  However, we are never really taught how to go about creating our goals to set ourselves up for success.  Many of us just have them bouncing around in our heads, waiting to forget them.  Others write them down, never to be seen again.

So, how do we make goal setting really start to work?  Perhaps we should not think of it so much as goal setting, as life planning.  Instead of looking at more short-term goals to get through the year, we need to look at the big picture, and then from there we can work backward and design the life we really want.

The Big Picture – Time to Brainstorm and have some fun!

Do you have an idea of what the “Big Picture” is for your life?  Do you know where you want to end up?  This is vitally important to designing your life because you must have that end destination in mind to figure out how to get there.  Know that this destination is not set in stone.  In fact, it will more than likely change numerous times along the way.  However, you must have an idea of where you want to go, in order to start the journey.

Do you want a family?  Do you want a career?  Do you want both?  What about retirement … where do you want to live?  Maybe you want to retire early?  These are just the tip of the iceberg that you need to think about.  Dream as if time and money are nothing to worry about.  You can’t reach big dreams if you don’t dream big first.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to try and figure out what your “Big Picture” is (be detailed in what you want):

  1. What are your core values?
  2. What makes you happy?
  3. What gives you inspiration?
  4. What are your interests?
  5. What contribution do you want to leave with this world?
  6. What would success look like to you?

Looking Back – Time to Reflect on who we are.

Once you have your “Big Picture” idea, it’s time to reflect on where you have been.  Your life is full of experiences and lessons learned.  It’s time to access that slate that you have been writing on your entire life.  Let’s see what you have to work with and whether it is aligned with where you want to go.  It may be time for new experiences.

  1. What are your accomplishments?
  2. What are your failures?
  3. How do you view those failures now?
  4. What are your fears?
  5. Are you happy with where you are in your life?
  6. What skill sets have you acquired so far?
  7. Do you have any regrets?

Stepping Stones – Finding your steps to your new Journey.

Now that you have a picture in your mind of where you want to end up, you just have to figure out how to get there.  What steps are along that road to accomplish your dream life.  It’s time to look at the shorter-term and make sure your actions align with where you want to go.  Do you have the right skills, or do you need to look at some courses?  These steps are what are going to keep you focused on your journey.

Break these questions down by ideas in the long-term, then get more detailed with your steps in the short-term, starting with what needs to happen this year.

  1. Instead of looking at more short-term goals to get through the year, we need to look at the big picture, and then from there we can work backward and design the life we really want.What needs to happen in the next 10 years to reach your goal?
  2. What needs to happen in the next 5 years?
  3. What needs to happen this year?
  4. What needs to happen this month?
  5. What are you doing this week?
  6. What are you doing today?

Time to Commit – Are you ready?

Now that you have figured out where you want to go, where you have been and what it will take in the short-term to design your perfect life; you only have one question left to ask yourself …

  1. Are you willing to do what it takes to make your life what you want it to be?

Sounds like an easy question, right?  I’m afraid life is not so simple.  Designing a plan for life can be fun, kind of like planning a vacation. Yet, best-laid plans can always be thrown off course.  It’s important to know that it will happen.  When it does, don’t just throw in the towel, it just means it is time to make some adjustments… analyze what happened or what went wrong.  If it’s something small, it probably won’t take much to get back on track.  If it’s something big enough to change the overall plan, then go back to the beginning, refresh the ideas and work your way back down to what you need to do today to make it happen.

Your life is what you make of it, and the first step is figuring out what you actually want out of it.  There are no wrong answers to this question.  Once you know, it’s time to make it happen.  Don’t sit on the sidelines and wait for it to come to you… it never will.  You have to make it happen.  Your passion is your fuel and will push you forward, even when times get tough.  There is nothing better than living the life you want!


Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash


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