This is article is part of a series called “The 30-Day Challenge”. See all articles here.
You probably know what you are passionate about or what is your big goal or mission. If you don’t know that yet, read yesterday’s article that will help you identify what you should probably focus on. Now let’s take that interest or passion of yours and work with it so that you can set a clear, measurable goal to work on.
Start with what you care about
As I said in yesterday’s article, you can identify what you should work on by reflecting on what you care about. So let me recap the main questions that help you focus on this:
What do you love to do?
What are you good at?
What do you hate?
What is important in the world?
Here are some possible answers to these questions. These are not necessarily my answers, they are just examples that might help you reflect on your own preferences or interests.
I love to discuss meaningful topics, encourage people, take pictures, eat healthily, think outside the box and so on.
I am good at managing my time, organizing events, writing, explaining complicated topics clearly, lifting weights, designing websites and so on.
I hate animal cruelty, inequality, materialism, laziness, corruption, ignorance, mediocrity, trash and dirt, climate change and so on.
I think what is important in the world is climate change, sustainable energy, medical healthcare, justice, kindness, happiness, health, financial stability and so on.
You can answer just one of these questions or all of them. But in the end, I recommend setting just one main goal. So try to think of the goal that you care about the most or that you want to focus on for now. Your interests and goals may change in time and that is normal. But only work on one for now to ensure that you have the highest chance of success.
Think about the change you want to create
Reflecting on the previous questions, try to think about the change you want to create in yourself, your life or the world. What we care about can often be translated into a change we want to happen. What is that change you are actually hoping for?
Here are a few examples:
I love to talk about meaningful topics. Because of this, I would love it if people would skip chitchat and talk about more important topics in an honest, vulnerable way.
I am good at managing my time. Because of this, I wish everyone would spend their time in the best way. I would love it if people would procrastinate less, become more efficient and spend their times on things that make their lives better.
I hate animal cruelty. Because of this, I wish everybody would be vegan and we would all stop using animals for meat, leather, eggs, milk and so on.
I think that what is important in the world right now is climate change. Because of this, I would be happy if people would pollute less. I wish they would fly less, drive less and buy less plastic.
While you may not have thought about your interest or passion in this way before, I think you’ll see that you have an underlying desire for something to change. If you still could not identify that change, reflect on the interests you previously discovered and ask yourself: What do I love/hate about this? What should we do differently? If I could give laws, what would I make illegal or compulsory?
Try to phrase your desire using this: formula I want (this) to happen (or not happen) in this way. Or: I just wish that everybody would do (this)/ or never do (this).
Now that you have identified the change you wanted to make happen, let’s try to make that change even more clear so that you can have a clear goal in mind. I think this goal can be about one of these 2 types of change: an outcome or a habit.
Think about the outcome you want to create
Goals are usually expressed as an outcome we desire. Our goals are often expressed like this:
- lose weight (15 kgs)
- save $1,000
- make 10,000 subscribers on Facebook
- travel to Bali
When your goal is an outcome, you can easily tell when you have achieved it. The end goal is clear and you can often keep track of your progress.
Now try to set a clear goal based on your own interests. Try to make this measurable in some way – even if your interests or mission are more an ideal than a measurable goal. You can do this even with abstract ideals. For example, if you hate animal cruelty and you want to do something about it you could decide to talk to 5 people about animal abuse or share your message on social media once a week for 2 months or start a blog to spread information about this.
Whatever your ideal or mission is, try to set a goal that is related to a measurable outcome. If you still have trouble doing this, you can try to find more information online. Look at what other people are doing and think about what you want to do yourself.
Think about the habit you want to have
While I think most of our goals are outcome-based, some goals are better expressed as habits we want to adopt. This means that the change you want in your life is to start doing an activity often or regularly.
Here are some examples:
- read 10 pages every day
- meditate every day
- write every day
- do an act of kindness every day
- work out 3 times a week
This type of goal is idea for when you want to adopt a good habit and stick with it for a long time. It’s more about making a long-term lifestyle change than about reaching a certain measurable outcome.
Outcome or habit?
Should you set your goal as an outcome or a habit? That is 100% up to you. But there are a few difference I’d like to mention that might help you decide. Keep in mind that any type of goal is great as long as it is what you want and it helps you become better!
Outcomes can be related to other people while habits are often related to yourself only. Think about these goals: reach 10,000 facebook followers (outcome) or post a picture every day (habit).
Outcomes focus on clear progress while habits are focused on continuity. Think about these goals: lose 15 kgs of fat (outcome) or work out 3 times per week (habit).
Outcomes have a timeframe and a clear end while habits are meant to create a long-term change. Think about these goals: save $5,000 (outcome) or always put aside $100 every month (habit).
Depending on the situation, it might be better to focus either on an outcome or on a goal. But I don’t necessarily think that outcomes are better than habits or vice versa when it comes to goals. However, focusing on a good habit may help you to inevitably reach some outcomes. Choose the one you prefer or the one that makes sense to you at the moment.
By now I hope that you have managed to identify what you care about, what type of change you want to make and set a goal for yourself. All that’s left to do is…to work on your goal until it becomes a reality. I’m here rooting for you! And I’ll also share more advice throughout January – in case you need it.
This article is part of a 30-day 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!