This is article is part of The 30-Day Challenge series. See all articles here.
You can choose any goals for yourself. Given that, I think you should make sure you choose the goals that are right for you. Here are a few ideas and question that can help you do that.
How we often choose our goals
I think that most of us often choose our goals unconsciously. I say that because we often choose the goals of the crowd – the ones that are valued by the society we live in.
We often aim for wealth, material possessions, status symbols, attractive partners and fame because this is what we are often told is desirable. These are the values you will often find in movies, YouTube vlogs or social media posts. And we are often influenced by these trends.
I said that we often choose our goals unconsciously because that’s how I think it happens. If we accept the values that most people share, we automatically set goals that are in line with those values. For example, if you grow up in a culture that values money and material objects, you will probably want those things too as you grow up. But you won’t necessarily be aware of the way culture had shaped your desires.
Of course, this does not mean that everyone will subscribe to the prevalent set of values and beliefs. Some people may be self-aware enough to identify the source of their desires, question them and decide whether to accept or reject them. Some people value different things and make plans accordingly.
And I think that we should all try to set goals that work for us – regardless of what society values. Accepting the values of society and setting goals based on that with no conscious thought process might be easier, but it’s definitely not the best option. This may take you in the wrong direction and shape you in ways you did not anticipate and that are not necessarily good for your wellbeing.
My opinion is that we should set goals that are aligned with who we are and what we believe in. This way, I think we will experience more meaning, feel more confident and further develop our abilities.
How to choose the right goals for yourself
As I believe the best way to set goals is to focus on what is right for you, I’ll try to help you do that. I will include a few pieces of advice and questions to help you identify what might be best for you. I cannot tell you which goals you should set, but I think I can help you set them yourself.
1. Choose a goal based on what you need
When we think about goals, we often start with what we want. But I think sometimes we should start with what we need.
What do you need right now?
What is it that you lack in your life?
Is there something that you depend on others for?
Do you have problems with your health, debt or family?
Is there something important in your life that needs your attention?
If you have a problem or a lack in your life that can have negative or long-term consequences, focus on that. Think about health problems, debt and so on.
If you have some needs that are important to you that you cannot fulfill at the moment, maybe you should focus on that. Think about the need for more time off, more personal freedom, more control over your work and so on.
If there is something you need in your life and that can increase your wellbeing a lot, maybe you should set a goal that focuses on that.
2. Choose a goal based on your skills and talents
You may usually associate goals with passion, but that is not the only way. You can also start with your skills and talents and work with them. This is especially helpful is you have no idea what you want, but you want to do something to become better.
What are you talented at?
What are you really good at (better than most of your friends or colleagues)?
What skills do you want to develop further?
Do you have any skills that you want to use for a full-time job?
I think that you are more likely to succeed if you bet on your strengths than if you have to start learning something from scratch. So make a list of your skills, talents, abilities and think about whether you want to use them to set a goal for yourself.
I am not suggesting that you won’t need to learn new things or that you shouldn’t. The idea is that if you start with something you are already good at, then you already have an advantage.
3. Choose a goal that aligns with your values
As I mentioned above, we are often influenced by the values of the society we live in (friends, parents, role models, content we consume and so on). But if you don’t share their values, there’s a chance you shouldn’t aim for the same things either.
What do you value? Is it money, health, status, impact, relationships, peace of mind, freedom, growth?
What do you admire people for? Is that something you want for yourself too?
What matters to you the most?
What do you want to have in your life?
If you value status, perhaps you should use your strengths in a field that will enable you to prove your expertise. If you value freedom, perhaps you should find a type of job that gives you more freedom (remote work, less supervision or more time off).
Think about what you value in life, what kind of person you want to be and try to see how you can achieve that. Pursuing the things that are in contradiction with your values is likely to cause a lot of stress and misery in the long term. But choosing goals that align with your values will probably increase your happiness and make your life seem more meaningful.
Always choose goals that will have a positive impact on your life
I think that we all want to avoid suffering and increase our wellbeing. But despite that desire, we sometimes still make decisions that do the opposite.
When thinking about your goals, try to think about the effects they will have on your life.
Will this goal make your life better? How?
Will working on this goal have a positive impact on your health or wellbeing? How?
Can this goal have some negative effects on your life as well? In what way? Can you do something about this?
Will this goal have more positive or negative effects on your life?
For example, people often wish for more money because they believe that this will make them happier. But that probably won’t happen. After you reach a certain level of financial security (you have a home, food and money for necessities), more income will often have little to no effect on your happiness levels. So maybe aim for enough money to have peace of mind and remember to spend your time enjoying life as well.
When making plans, try to aim for goals that will have a positive impact on your life. And if you can, try to limit the negative effects they can have. Maybe all goals also have a downside (at least in the time you invest in them), but try to make the best choices you can.
While you can choose any goals you want, I want to encourage you to aim for those goals that align with who you are and what you want in life. And always try to choose goals that have positive effects on your life and increase your wellbeing.
This article is part of The 30-Day Challenge series where I’ll share an article every day. I will mainly focus on goals, success and habits and I hope this series will help you have a higher chance of achieving your meaningful goals in 2020!