In Goal Setting Part II I mentioned that if you’d like to set goals for yourself, but haven’t found any that you feel inspired to achieve, you can try using goal setting “categories” to generate new ideas. By using categories, you’ll discover goals that reflect the diversity of your ambitions- you’ll be reminded that there are many areas in your life where you feel inspired to grow. And don’t forget, goals don’t have to be grand, like, “I want to run a marathon.” They can be humble, like, “I want to plant three different varieties of tomato in my garden.” Whether or not your goals are impressive to someone else has no bearing here- you’ll know you picked the right goals for yourself if you feel excited to achieve them. The 10 goal setting categories I set out in Part II deserve a little more explanation so that you can get a clear idea of the different areas you could brainstorm about. Of course, you may not be interested in some of the categories, and in that case just skip those- there’s no point in setting a goal that you don’t feel inspired to reach. Similarly, you may feel inspired to achieve something that doesn’t fit into one of the areas listed here- in that case, leave a comment to let me know what category I’m missing!
Note: It might be helpful to start out by just writing out whatever goals pop in to your head as you look over the list, even if those goals seem unrealistic or silly. Once you’ve got all your ideas on paper you can start refining them and deciding which ones are most important to you. At that point, consider referring back to Goal Setting Part III: Set Spiritual Goals First, where I explain why it can be helpful to set goals in numerical order instead of skipping around (i.e., set goals for category #1 first, then move on to #2, etc.). When you’re ready to actually tackle your goals, check out Goal Setting Part I: Three Steps to Achieving Your Goals.
Goal Setting Categories
- Spiritual: Keeping in touch with the ultimate purpose of your life. This applies equally if you’re religious or not religious. It’s OK if you don’t know what your ultimate purpose is- your goal can be to start a quest to find out. Or you can have a more concrete goal, like: Make a list each evening of what I’m grateful for.
- Family: What you’d like to accomplish as far as your relationships with family and close friends. An example would be: Take nephew golfing at least once/month. For my part, I’ve always been shy about inviting people over for parties, dinners, etc., and I want to get over that. So, one of my goals is: Start hosting gatherings at our house.
- Finance: Goals related to your savings, spending habits, budget, investments, and retirement savings. Some people include material goals here (“I want a new car“), but I put those in the Lifestyle category. A Finance goals would be: Save $200 for an iPhone by saving $50/month for 4 months.
- Service: How you’d like to help your family, friends, and/or community. For instance, you might want to help an elderly relative or neighbor with their yard work once a week, or volunteer at an after-school program.
- Lifestyle: Things you want (e.g., iPad, new sunglasses, new shoes), and hobbies/activities you’d like to do for fun (e.g., travel, photography, collecting antiques). This is the “fun” category, so don’t limit yourself too much- write down the things you’d love to have (a new/used car?) and the things you’d love to do (visit the Grand Canyon?).
- Career: Your long and short-term work goals. You might have a short-term goal, like, Hire an assistant manager for my bakery, or a longer term goal, like, Be promoted to manager within two years, or Take night classes to finish Bachelor’s degree.
- Education: Skills that you’d like to learn or maintain. You may have a goal relating to formal education (“I want to obtain my teaching credential“) or you may have an informal goal (“I want to learn how to change a flat tire“). Right now I don’t have any formal education goals, so I’m focusing on personal matters, like learning housecleaning techniques so that I can clean my house faster!
- Fitness: Goals related to health, weight, eating habits, and exercise. An example would be: Do cardio exercise 5 times/week, or Drink water instead of soda at dinner.
- Home: What you’d like your house to be like (home improvements, gardening) and how you’d like it to be maintained (cleaning, organizing). Some examples: Build shelves for laundry area, or Plant carrots by the end of the month. A maintenance goal might be, Declutter office at least once/month. One of my goals: Sell our unneeded items on eBay and in a yard sale.
- Children: What you’d like to teach your children (if you have any- if not, relate this to nieces & nephews or other children that you mentor). This category is only about what knowledge or skill you’d like to pass on to your children- relationship issues should go in the “Family” category above. An example Children goal: Teach daughter to ride a bike. Our daughter is entering Kindergarten this Fall, so one of my goals is: Practice reading and/or writing with her every day.
Once you start thinking about these ten goal setting areas, it’s not hard to come up with two or even three goals for each category. Don’t be intimidated by the number of goals you come up with- you don’t have to accomplish them all at the same time! Just write them down, and then later you can come back and choose how many goals you’d like to work on at a given time. This year I have 27 goals in all, but I only work on 7 each week. And by “work on,” I mean, “take a tiny, incremental step towards the goal.” Honestly, 27 goals is probably a bit much, but it’s in my personality to want to reach for everything at the same time. I can’t help but enjoy having lots of goals on my list- it motivates me to work harder towards achieving them (though it remains to be seen whether I actually achieve more this way- I may end up winnowing the list down if it gets too unwieldy).
You might feel more motivated if you narrow your list down to one goal per category, and then work on only 2-3 goals per week. Or maybe even pick only three goals for the whole year. Whether you proceed with lots of goals or only a few, just make sure you’re picking the method that gets you the most excited about tackling those goals!