You’re smart. I know you know the importance of goals.
Without goals, it’s hard to get anywhere, at least anywhere you want to go.
You might end up somewhere without goals, but it’ll likely be somewhere pretty random— or, more likely, you’ll end up somewhere chosen for you by someone else, in a place that serves their needs more than yours.
Goals are tools we use to live our values. The link between our goals and our values is the big-picture importance of goals in our life.
Goals have a more practical purpose in our lives as well, however.
Goals help us establish what to put on our schedules every day in order to make sure our attention is getting funneled in the right direction.
What we do with our time every day is enormously important. It can make the difference between feeling bored and engaged; between feeling empty and fulfilled; between feeling lazy and industrious.
When it comes down to it, what we do with our time is really the biggest variable in whether we’re feeling happy or frustrated.
How do we decide what do do every day?
(Trust me on this: if you don’t have a plan for your day, someone else assuredly does. The world is FULL of people who are perfectly happy to tell us how to spend our days.)
We decide what to do with our time every day based on— you guessed it— your goals.
I tell my patients that it’s enormously important to always be training for something, like an athlete does.
Are athletes called upon to compete every day or every week? No, they’re usually not.
But do athletes choose how to spend their time every day based on the steppingstones that lead to their “game day” goals? You betcha.
Goals provide structure, down to the week, the day, even the hours.
Human beings need structure.
We need structure based on what we value and what we like. It’s really, really hard to live a life that you find fulfilling without structure that is erected around what you value and what you like.
Many people hear the word “structure,” and they recoil. They think that “structure” is something that limits them.
(As if that would be a bad thing— when viewed in their proper perspective, limits are some of the most useful tools we have— but that’s a different subject.)
But ask yourself: if “structure” is so bad, what’s the alternative? Chaos? Randomness?
Your self-esteem notices when you’re living a live of chaotic randomness. Self-esteem is hard to come by when you’re not living life on purpose, with mindfulness and intentionality.
Pick some goals in your important life domains.
We human beings have needs in various life domains— we need physical health, we need relationships, we need freedom, we need fun. Many of us have a need to feel connected to spirituality. All of these domains offer various opportunities for goal-setting.
Pick some goals, then ask what the steppingstones or milestone goals on the way to those goals are.
What are the steps?
If a goal is going to take a year, what’s the six month goal en route to that goal? How about the three month goal? The one month goal?
Get down to the week. Get down to the day.
Ask yourself: if you were committed to this goal, and if these are the steppingstone goals or the milestones, what does that mean about how my day, today, needs to be structured?
What do I have to do today, in other words?
Goals are nice for their inspirational quality, that’s true. But for my money, goals are MOST useful because they answer the question of “how should I manage my time?”
Time management is life management.
This is your life.
Ask good questions and manage it well.
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