Learning how to find your goals in life is a lot like driving to Disney. If your purpose is to get to Disney, your goals are the detailed directions to get you there.
If you want to learn “how to find your goals in life“, the first step is to know what your destination is and, most importantly, “Why” you want to go there.
The Why is the critical part because if you are not committed to the why, the goals to support the destination will fall apart.
Meaningful goals are the steps that take you to your life purpose and this article will show you how to find your life purpose, your why for that purpose, and teach you how to set your goals to get you there!
Without a purpose, goals don’t matter.
This article may be a little long but will take you through each step to get your life in order. Lets get started.
What Do You Need in Life to be Happy and Successful?
It’s a commonly accepted sentiment that setting goals will lead you to success.
The problem is after years of hard work, people often discover they set the wrong goals in life. They choose money over passion, or possessions over experiences. We lose precious time on meaningless endeavourers.
The first thing to do to live a life that matters to you is to focus on what is most important to you and disregard the rest.
The things that matter most to you, your passions, we will call your higher level goals, or your life purpose. Before we focus on these higher level goals like your passions, life roles, and our life purpose, we need to make sure our basic needs are met.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is used to explain what motivates humans and is a clear way to understand what matters to you most as you progress through your needs and passions.
People must first must satisfy the more basic needs of life like “physiological” and “safety” needs before we can work to satisfy our other higher level needs like “belonging and love”, “social needs” or “esteem”, and “self-actualization”.
You cannot search for meaning and love if you are hungry and cold.
The key to understanding human needs is we must completely satisfy our basic needs before we can work on our higher level passions. We must set our priorities and goals to meet our basic needs before we move any higher in the pyramid.
Before we set on a path to learn our life’s purpose and create goals to build a successful life, we first must make sure our basic needs are meet and if they are not, we need to create goals to meet them first.
How to Find Your Passion
Now that our basic needs are meet, we can focus on our passions.
From an early age, we were repeatedly asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” In high school, everyone asked, “What are you going to study? What are you going to do with your life?”
One of the most important rules of happiness in life is to do what you love. You’ve probably heard that advice a lot of times already. Unfortunately, discovering that dream job and what you are meant to do in life isn’t always so easy.
Or is it?
Many people over think this question and get stuck in analysis paralysis.
They try to think of the forever answer on what job or passion they want to have and plan to have for the rest of their life.
All you need to figure out is what your passions are in this point of your life.
Jack Canfield recommends you just ask yourself these 2 questions.
What do you love to do?
What comes easily to you?
Mel Robbins teaches us in order to discover what you are truly passionate about, she recommends you pay attention to your energy level while you go about your day.
I recommend you do both!
Monitor your energy levels while doing something in your life you love to do. This is very likely your true passion.
The opposite is true when you have little energy when performing a job Your body is telling you there is little love and passion for that job.
Create a list of 10 or so items you love to do, do very well, and have a natural energy when doing it. This is your passion list and you will need it later to help discover your life purpose.
What is a Life Role?
Now that we know what our passions are, lets make sure they line up with our life role.
We all have one or more roles in our life. A manager’s role is to provide leadership, child’s role is to learn, a parents role is to love, teach and provide care. Our roles change as we progress through life.
If our passion is to travel, but our role is to raise a family, our passions will likely be out of sync with our life role.
The key is to focus on the passions that align with your life role if you want to be happy. In time, your role will change and you can pursue other passions but for now, we need to focus on the passions that align with our role.
Don’t worry if you are not happy with your current life role at this time. You can change that and I will talk about that in another article.
How to Find Your Life Purpose
Your role will change throughout your life and you could often have several roles at one time, but I believe you should only have one life purpose at any time in your life.
Your life purpose is the direction you want to take in life. It is the main goal of your life. Just like you can only have one destination at a time when you travel, you should only have one destination for your life.
In order to find out what your life purpose should be, we need to take that list of passions we created earlier, compare it to our life role, and ask ourselves the following questions. Write down your answers to make them real.
- When have you been happiest in your life?
- What have you done to make yourself truly proud of yourself?
- What qualities do you most admire in yourself and in other people?
- What makes you feel really alive and energized?
- If you had one week to live, how would you spend that week?
- If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
- What one change could make your life happier?
- Vision yourself in the future, what is your life like?
- What do you find yourself doing in your free time?
- Do you have any hobbies? Why did you choose those hobbies to spend your time on?
- What subjects do you like to read and learn about?
- What gets you excited to get up in the mornings and keeps you up at night?
- Is there some topic you love talking about with friends and family?
- Remember your purpose goes beyond the current role you have today.
Once you have those questions answered, its time use them to narrow down your life purpose or life goal.
Because we are realistic, we cannot just pick a life purpose that will ignore our core needs in life. We all need shelter and food or nothing else matters.
To make sure we select a life purpose that supports Maslow’s needs theory, I recommend you pick 3 hobbies you love:
- One hobby to make you money
- A hobby to keep you healthy
- One hobby to be creative
The place where all 3 meet can easily be can be your life goals. But validate it with the answers to the questions above.
Some people use 4 areas of your life to narrow the focus in on your life goals. These are:
- Something that you Love doing
- Something that you are talented at doing
- It is something that other people need in their life
- Something that can make you money
Spend a little time reflecting on what your life goals should be. Use the examples and method above. Write it down but make sure you are looking long term.
If you think your purpose is to be a straight A student, how will your purpose change when you graduate? If you think your purpose as to become the CEO of the company, how does your purpose change after you retire? Lastly, if you set your purpose to have a million dollars, what will your purpose be after you have a million dollars? Will you finally be happy, successful, content?
We need to find a purpose you can spend a lifetime pursuing and enjoying. Think of the top of the triangle.
Don’t worry about picking the perfect life purpose because you can make changes to it as you grow. Be focused on your goals, but flexible in your approach.
If you are like most people, your desire in life is to be happy. Just being happy is not a goal or life purpose. You need to know what makes you happy, and then pursue that as your purpose.
You can easily do this by aligning your passions, current life role, and purpose in such a way to bring you as much happiness as possible both today and in the future. Be specific enough to provide good direction, but flexible enough to adjust as you change.
With these answers, we are now ready to create our life purpose statement.
Lets write down a summary of what we want our life to be like. This should only be a few lines and easy to relay to someone else.
One side note.
We are influenced a lot by what we see. We are influenced by advertisements, celebrities, neighbors and friends, peers, and society expectations. We are influenced by the images we see everyday and often believe our lives should be more like those images.
Don’t fall into the trap that what makes one person happy will make you happy. Unfortunately, the world around us is always telling you that in order to be happy, you need to buy something. The truth is actually the opposite.
In order to be happy, you simply need to be satisfied with what you already have. You need to be satisfied with who you are or can become. Other people will never bring you happiness, only you can, so create your life purpose on what you want your life to be and not what society or others value in life.
How to Find your Why
We should have a clear direction on what we want in life. Now comes the test.
Why did we choose this life purpose for ourselves?
The Why is the critical test to make sure the purpose is meant for us and not just something society thinks we should pursue.
“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” Friedrich Nietzsche
Why do I want to have a million dollars, why do I want to get good grades in school, or why do want to be the CEO?
The Why’s tie my purpose back to the passions I have for life. If the why matches my purpose and passion, I know the goal will support my dreams.
How to Find Your Goals in Life
So far we discussed how to learn what you want in life and why you want it. Now we can learn how to find your goals in life so you know how to get everything you want in life.
Goals are simply the steps we need to take to achieve our purpose. These are the detailed directions that take us to our purpose or destination in life.
Every goal I set for myself, I like to always ask the “How” question. How will this help me get to my purpose? If the goal will not help me achieve my purpose, I change it until it does.
The plan should be to setup several smaller goals that all line up with your larger goals and life purpose in order to achieve success.
When setting goals, there are a few guiding principles you can use to keep you on track. We use the acronym S.MA.R.T. to precisely map out measurable, attainable goals. A S.M.A.R.T. goal should be:
Well defined, clear, and unambiguous
A specific goal would not be “I want to lose weight”. A specific goal would be “I want to lose 20 pounds and feel proud of my body”.
This specific goal ties back to a feeling and emotion which would also help motivate you to lose the 20 pounds.
With specific criteria that measure your progress towards the accomplishment of the goal.
Measuring your weight lose over time is a great way to see progress and feel your success. You can take pride in this accomplishment and start to see the difference in the cloths you wear and the activities you can now do.
Attainable and not impossible to achieve.
If your goal isn’t attainable, you’re setting yourself up for failure. An attainable or achievable goal is one that is possible to accomplish but not easy as to not make progress towards your end goals.
If your goal is to lose 20 pounds in a week, this is not an achievable goal but to lose 20 pounds in 12 weeks is very possible. Don’t set your self up for failure by setting the bar at an impossible level.
To help you determine if this goal is achievable, ask yourself:
- Do I have the resources and capabilities to achieve the goal? If not, what am I missing?
- Have others done it successfully before?
When you set goals, make sure they matter to you and the bigger picture of how you envision your life to unfold. Goals are only valuable if the results progress you towards your success.
Remember that most goals support larger goals, and your life purpose. If a goal doesn’t support your larger goals, then it is not relevant to you and should be replaced.
Your life purpose and happiness is at stake so make sure you are choosing the goals that support your purpose.
With a clearly defined timeline, including a starting date and a target date. The purpose is to create urgency and make sure you have the right amount of focus to win.
Remember, focus + time + energy = results. If you give yourself too much time, then you are reducing the amount of energy, time, and focus needed and will stall out your progress.
Give yourself a deadline and make sure you meet it.
Goals are the steps you need to take to achieve your life goals and to become the person you want to be.
Take these lessons and spend an hour to think through these lessons and find the person you want to be in life. Create some goals on how to get you there and take the final step to transform yourself into that person.
Action is the method needed to convert your goals into results. Take action today and watch your life transform into the person you want to be. Turn your dreams into reality.
This is the first part of a 3 part series on how to find your goals in life.
Setting goals means nothing if you don’t follow through with the other 2 parts.
Setting the right goals, making good decisions, and taking actions on those decisions are the 3 keys to achieve anything in life.
What is your life purpose and what goals did you set for yourself to achieve success in your life? Let me know in the comment section below.
I hope you enjoyed reading this and if you did, remember to signup for my email list to receive updates when I create new articles.
Thank you for reading! Good luck in achieving success in your life.