What things are at the top of your list of life goals? Is it a list of cities you would like to visit in the future or vacations you would like to take? Maybe purchasing your dream car or paying off student debt? Perhaps you’re thinking of improving your physical health, starting your own business, or dreaming of your future retirement.
Whether your life goals are centered around travel, finances, health, or your career, how often do you seriously consider how to achieve those goals through planning and execution?
The Importance of Setting Life Goals
Without setting clear goals for yourself you might lose sight of them over time, ultimately putting yourself at risk of not achieving them within your lifetime.
If you don’t know where you want to go, you’ll never get there.
To achieve our life goals, we must articulate them, plan to achieve them, take note of our progress in reaching those goals, and readjust as needed.
Without a conscious effort to do so, you might not recognize when you’ve taken large steps or even accomplished something that was once a major life goal of yours. It is important to reflect on your progress and remember where you once were!
Focusing on SMART goals has been shown to be an effective goal setting technique. Using this technique ensures you set life goals that are clearly stated, measurable, realistic, focused, and you have a timeframe for achieving those goals.
For achieving more tangible goals, like budgeting for a vacation or losing ten pounds, this SMART framework is fairly intuitive. Still, many of us have numerous other life goals that are very broad or not as “tangible” related to our passions and values.
We all have desires to fulfill a purpose that fits into the “bigger picture” of the world: the desire to leave some sort of legacy or lasting impact on others and our surroundings.
How can we reach those goals?
The Intersection of Career and Life Goals
If you pursue a vocation aligned with your calling, you will experience the fulfillment that can contribute to the achievement of broader like goals, like living a fulfilling life and being happy each day.
Setting Education Goals Aligned with Your Calling
Once you’ve identified your career direction, you can plan to gain the relevant skills and knowledge necessary to be successful in that field through the use of the SMART technique.
One example of a broader, passion-fueled goal might be, “educate others on the dangers of climate change”.
A SMART goal to take the first step towards accomplishing this through education might be, “Graduate with a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and a minor in political science within four years”
This goal is SMART because it is:
- Specific – the type of degree and area of study are specified
- Measurable – progress toward the degree can be tracked
- Attainable – this is a reasonable goal to achieve, and many others have accomplished this
- Relevant – this is directly related to gaining the knowledge needed to educate others on the dangers of climate change
- Time-bound – the goal is to be completed within four years
Setting Career Goals Aligned with Your Calling
After achieving this milestone, you can work on setting career goals that build off previous education accomplishments to continue working toward the ultimate purpose-driven life goal.
A career goal to take the next step might be: “Apply to at least 3 jobs focused on environmental advocacy and policy each week after graduation”
Can you identify why this goal is S.M.A.R.T.?
Balance Career Goals with Other Life Goals
As you advance through your career and set larger, more challenging goals, remember that career goals should also take into account your lifestyle. It is important to seek and define what work-life balance means for you.
Understanding the relationship between your work and personal life will ensure you respect boundaries while enabling yourself to accomplish your other goals related to personal achievements, travel, and family.