No one ever taught me how to set goals. Instead, I heard what my goals were generic, superficial, and ego-driven: “Go to college and get a degree.” “Marry a nice guy with a steady job.” “Diet and exercise so you don’t get fat.” “Buy a nice house, since your house is everything.” These were just a few things put in my head by my well-meaning grandmother who raised me. In the first half of my adult life, I continued to look to others to set my goals for me. In my career and private life, I sought approval, admiration, and rewards for achieving goals that would please others. I tried to be the best worker, wife, mother, and friend.
Until one day in my 30s I realized that I was unfulfilled and even worse, I was unsure of whom I really was. As a massive people pleaser, I’d lost touch with myself since I was too busy worrying about what others wanted from me or comparing myself to what others had achieved. The results were that I didn’t even care about my recent achievements because, in many ways, they had never been mine. And, of course, I never felt good enough and suffered from imposter syndrome because they weren’t my true goals.
When was the last time someone asked you if you were happy?
Sadly, many just make assumptions based on shallow grounds. If a woman is older yet unmarried, some will just assume she is unhappy. If she is married with a nice life, they assume she is happy. Or a man who quit his high-paying job is having a “mid-life crisis”. No one cares enough to seek the truth. Our goals are set for us by others, and if we fail to meet them, we fail in their eyes as they pass judgment without knowing the facts.
As I sincerely don’t believe people-pleasing and shallow goals lead to happiness, I’d dare to say these goals are close to worthless. I never assume someone is happy. They may have a beautiful mansion but feel trapped like a prisoner inside.
Have you ever heard someone say about another person “They are so lucky.” I shiver when I hear this because I know the truth is often not the same as outwards perception.
It is only when you set goals in line with your innermost dreams that you set real goals.
Who are you? Really, tell me.
Every single person has a purpose. I’m not talking about having children and being a good friend, husband, wife, or worker. I mean, a deeper calling on this Earth, a pull to do something big. It is inside each and every person. Yet few ever go there. They stay on the surface goals, playing the success game, yet feeling empty inside. That empty feeling is the gap you create when you don’t align your actions with your heart’s desire.
Your true goal setting only begins after you define your purpose in life. What is your legacy? What do you want to leave behind to give to future generations and be remembered by? Why is it that some people are spoken of as “great achievers” while others are quickly forgotten? The difference isn’t only talent, as many falsely believe. A true goal serves humanity on a higher level and creates lasting impact. The world becomes a better place because you existed.
True Goal = Belief + Relentless Action
Are you setting true goals or superficial ones? You’ll know by a few criteria:
- Aren’t personal
- Are ones many other people have as well
- Don’t move you on the deepest level
- Are cliché
- Only involve your immediate needs, never society-at-large
- Are often cultural, defined by how you were raised
- Are ones you think others will approve of
- Are deep and intimate
- Are so personal that you feel like you have a big secret
- Make you feel whole
- Are different from others
- Create a positive impact in the world, helping others
- May defy the restraints of your cultural upbringing
- Are ones that others may not understand
The 3 Levels of Goal Setting
Plan out your goals in the following order, and you will achieve success in your life.
Level 1: Big Picture Goals (the ‘What’)
This comes first. You define your personal mission statement, which I call your North Star, and work through the past issues that, if not resolved, could negatively influence your mindset and prevent you from goals achievement. Mostly, these goals never change and are timeless. Let me specify that the ‘what’ doesn’t change but the ‘how’ evolves as you meet your smart goals and move on to the next way of expressing it. Big Picture Goal Example: To be in the best shape of my life
Level 2: SMART Goals (the ‘How’)
Turn your big-picture goals into shorter-term goals with deadlines. Here we must work backward. Think of it as a step-by-step climbing ladder between where you are now and where you want to go. Goals should be set every month and measured on a weekly basis. Smart goals evolve. It is an ongoing process to set and monitor them. Smart Goal Example: To be able to run full marathon by December of this year.
Level 3: Success Habits (the ‘Action’)
Take your SMART goals and divide them further into weekly planning, so you calculate what you need to achieve each week to meet your monthly goal. Design your day-by-day schedule of actions you will take that lead to your weekly quotas being met.
This can be very simple or extremely complicated. To achieve your goals and success, many factors come into play, such as your motivation, your support, your strategy your self-discipline, and your time management. Since it isn’t easy for many, I have built two courses –Goal Setting and Success Habits and Time Management and Productivity. Plus, to make it easier for all to build success habits, I run a free 30-day challenge anyone can get value from.