Life Design Journaling Framework: Goals

What Are Goals

Goals are the primary, broad outcomes you wish to achieve in your life. A goal as a broad outcome may make it difficult to specify specific criteria for when the goal has been achieved. The achievement criteria will be subjective. Only you will know when you have achieved one of your goals. Examples of goals would be financial independence, expertise in your field, creating a healthy lifestyle, creating an online presence. Each of these are broad primary outcomes. The next step will be defining specific measurable objectives to reach these goals.

Without goals, we are leaving our lives to random chance.

Define Your Life Goals

The defining of our goals is the first step of turning your vision into a plan. For a life design, you require a set of goals that if achieved will create your vision. As you specify your goals it is important that each goal specifies one primary outcome. In the beginning, you shouldn’t be concerned about how you are going to achieve it, or how long it will take. All you need is for you to understand what it means to achieve the goal. Each goal will have a plan for achieving the goal that we will discuss in the next post about objectives.

I have seen online where people talk about goals being specific, that they follow the S.M.A.R.T acronym. That goals must be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based. I disagree with three out of five of these.

Goals should be specific, relevant, not necessarily measurable, achievable, or time-based. As a goal is a broad primary outcome for achieving your vision it may not be measurable. If you have a goal to live a healthy lifestyle, you do not know what that lifestyle will be until you get closer to the goal. The goal needs to be fluid until you discover what a healthy lifestyle is for you.

Goals are what takes us toward our vision. Our vision should be what we can ultimately be. Aim for the stars. When we create our vision, we don’t know how we are going to create it, therefore we can’t know if our goals are achievable until we try. Same with time-based, when we create a goal we don’t know how long it is going to take for us to get there, we just have to keep working towards it until we get there.

Now, for all those people who are disagreeing with me, our goals are broken down into objectives. Our objectives have to follow the S.M.A.R.T paradigm. We will discuss those in the next post.

Creating Goals

When you first create a goal, you may not know how to achieve it. As long as there is at least one step you can take towards that goal you are ready. Once you achieve that first step you will see the next steps towards the goal.

Sometimes, once you get closer to achieving a goal you realize it was just a stepping stone towards some larger outcome. If you were initially aware of the larger goal, your goal would have been an objective towards that goal. As an example, if you had a goal of reaching a healthy weight, a larger goal would be a healthy lifestyle of which weight would be one objective.

We have goals for achieving our life vision, as well as achieving our life vision in each of our life areas. Managing which goals to pursue at what time is part of creating an effective life design plan.

Two Types of Goals

Habit goals

Habits, or routines that you want to incorporate into your life. These goals will be ongoing until they are a permanent part of your life. A goal such as peaceful parenting would be a habit goal.

Target goals

Goals where the attainment of the goal is a specific point in time. An example of a target goal would be to retire. Once you retire you know you have reached your goal. Sometimes target goals are objectives in a bigger life goal.

Questions to help identify goals

  1. What do you need to achieve in life to reach your vision?
  2. What are your big goals in each of the life areas?
  3. What is your ideal job?
  4. Are any of my goals part of a larger life goal?
  5. What needs to be in place in my life to achieve my vision?
  6. What obstacles are stopping me from achieving my vision?

Goal Setting – a Personal Experience

For me, when setting goals the biggest issue I have is allowing the scope of the goal to change over time. I would set a goal to achieve a certain revenue from being a freelance business analyst. As I got closer to that amount I would get comfortable with that amount and up the amount. In this way, I would never be reaching my goal. Looking back on my journals made me realize I was doing this, not only for revenue goals but for other goals.

An important lesson from this is to set goals on a yearly basis, if you exceed the goal during the year that is great. At the end of the year, you can set a new goal for a new level. In this way, you can celebrate your wins and gain more motivation for your vision.

Why Create Goals

Goals allow you to put the big picture together for creating your vision.  When creating your goals it is not important to know how to reach them, they are there to focus you on your vision.  The process of creating and achieving objectives towards your goals will reveal other objectives required.  The process of continually evaluating where you are in relation to your goals and determining objectives to get you closer is key to achieving your vision.

Journaling is a keystone habit that keeps you focused on your goals, shows you how far you have come, and will reveal patterns and wisdom to help achieve future objectives.

Goal Setting – Action Steps

ActionStep Description
Start a journalStart a journal if you don’t already have one.
Document your goalsCreate a section specifically for your goals. This will allow you to regularly review your goals.
Document experiences of your goalsCreate a section where you can document experiences related to your goals. Journal when goals were set, when they changed, and when you have achieved them.
Document reflections of your goalsCreate a section where you document reflections and insights you have about goals. Journal times when you were inspired for your goals and times when you struggled.
Review regularlyReview your journal regularly. Ideally, you would review your journal as part of your morning or evening routine. This is an integral part of daily improvement.