One of the hardest things to accept is that life has the meaning we want to give it. And even harder than that is to take the step and give meaning to our existence ourselves.

In this article we will see several tips about how to set life goals, based on simple guidelines that we can develop by changing our daily habits.

Setting Life Goals, Step by Step

Our existence does not obey a predetermined objective, we ourselves must be able to transform our personal growth into a coherent and meaningful project (or at least, a chain of meaningful projects).
But this is not an easy thing to do. Many times we feel lost or stagnant , and no matter how much we fantasize about a world in which it is always very clear what has to be done, the truth is that that kind of decision is up to us to make. But how to do it? How to begin to order our priorities and establish in a concrete way those objectives to be achieved? Let’s look at it.

1. Define your values

First of all, you need to consider which values are most important to you and which shape what you consider to be important on a day-to-day basis. In this way, you will have an outline about which is “the skeleton” of those things you value and want in your life, and those things you want to avoid.

To do this, write down on a sheet of paper a set of concepts of an abstract nature that give an account of the things that matter to you : friendship, the environment, strong emotions, etc. Then, make a selection of about 8 or 9 elements and order them by placing in the first positions those values that are most important to you.

2. List affordable long-term goals

Long-term goals are those that only make sense to set as objectives to be achieved in a matter of years, or that even if they are never fully achieved, help us to establish routines. For example, learning languages, getting fit, meeting more people, travelling, etc.
So, make a list of about 5 or 6 long-term objectives , those that you are most excited about , so that from this scheme you can then decide in an easier way what to do.

3. Make your plans concrete

In this step to establish life goals you must operationalize the way in which you will achieve those goals, taking into account realistic ways to achieve them , on the one hand, and that this way of achieving them does not conflict directly with your values.
For example, if one of your goals is to travel but one of your most important values is the protection of the environment, it is worth considering how to travel without using the airplane, since this means of transport pollutes a lot. To do this, establish a strategy about travelling by hitchhiking, for example, or by bicycle, train, etc.

4. Subdivide your objectives into short-term goals

You can’t live by long-term goals alone; it’s important to break them down into shorter time frames to get your hopes up about the results you’re achieving week after week.

Therefore, from those goals that you have set yourself in the long term, segment small victories that bring you closer to them in a month’s time . Keep in mind that this step only serves to show your progress, and that you should not obsess about it.
Finally, with these short-term goals you can create calendars about what your progress should be over time, so that you create a commitment to yourself and don’t throw in the towel easily. This calendar will help you keep track of whether or not you are achieving your goals.

5. Review your life goals

Everyone changes over time, and a life goal may cease to be important or make sense to you after a while. This is normal and part of the process of growth and psychological evolution. Therefore, you should monitor your progress and see if what you do continues to motivate you and awaken in you illusion. If it doesn’t, abandon those goals without judging yourself, since that in itself is not bad.

Bibliographic references:

  • Bandura, A. (1998). Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control, W.H. Freeman and Company, New York.
  • Grant, A. M.; O’Hara, B. (2006). “The self-presentation of commercial Australian life coaching schools: Cause for concern?”. International Coaching Psychology Review. Leicester: The British Psychological Society. 1 (2): 21–33 [29].
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  • Ventegodt, S.; Joav M.; Niels Jørgen A. (2003). “Quality of Life Theory III. Maslow Revisited”. TheScientificWorldJournal. Finland: Corpus Alienum Oy (3): 1050-1057.