This goal setting tip is the secret sauce for your goals
This goal setting tip will ensure you choose the best path for your goals. It can craft the vaguest goal into a well defined path. A pathway that is completely aligned with your values and priorities.
I call my #1 tip to rock your goal-setting world – Analysed goal setting.
This process involves brainstorming all the possible options to achieve your goals. Then, selecting the best path – based on your personalised criteria (which is done through a quick and easy analysis).
Now, you can do this on a bit of paper or similar. But, if you would like my fully loaded spreadsheet with preformatted formulas. Grab it below.
Superpowered goal setting tip in action
The reason this is my #1 goal setting tip is because I have used it to change my life.
At the time, I was unhappy with my job and I was ready for change. But, I had no idea what I wanted to do.
There is always a danger when you are not sure what change you want or need – you do nothing. You may just sit back and wait for something to change. (And this was the road I had taken… for years.)
However, unfortunately, (unless you are really lucky) doing nothing often has the unsurprising effect of nothing changing…
So, thankfully for my lacklustre life – I used this exercise.
I started with the loose goal “I need to do something about my life” and ended with a clear picture of my various options. Plus, an understanding of how each stacked up against what was important to me.
And perhaps the biggest takeaway at the time – the trajectory I was on – was the least aligned to my priorities.
So, today I want to walk you through the process – so you can change your life too.
#1 Goal setting tip kick off – the prerequisite
The first thing you need for this exercise – is to decide on a goal.
Maybe it’s a new job, greater life balance, a passion project – or, maybe you just know you what something different.
But what I will say is this should be the wildest and wackiest brainstorming sesh you have ever had.
For example – if we use the loose goal of “changing jobs to something better”.
You would list obvious options (including stay in the current job) but if you have ever thought of being Prime Minister – put that – if you have wished you were a 1950s housewife – put that – Astronaut – ditto – professional couch potato – samesies.
The idea is to completely clear the options out of your head – the practicality of your options sort themselves out in the next steps.
#1 Goal setting tip step 2: Criteria
The next step is to decide the criteria you will use to rate the suitability of your options. This will allow you to calculate how they stack up against each other and your priorities (ie whether they are winners or not).
As part as your criteria – I recommend you use your core values.
These are the boxes that you must have ticked in the ideal world. Or in this case – your ideal job.
These are your foundational priorities that will make you feel fulfilled and content.
(If you have never done a core values exercise, or it has been a while, I recommend doing one now. If you would like access to mine – check out Day 2 of my free email course).
To use me as an example – my core values are:
Learning (ie. I always want to to be learning)
Challenged (ie. I always want to have challenges to unpack)
Helping (ie. I am happiest when I feel I am helping people)
And given the nature of our wild and wacky brainstorming – I would add another:
Practical (eg. it’s probably not practical to think I could turn back time to the 1950s)
You might like to have additional criteria relating to ease, cost, time etc.
#1 Goal setting tip step 3: Analysis
Now you have a set of criteria – you will use this to rate your brainstorming options.
So, review each option and give it a score for how well it meets each criteria.
My example: Astronaut (I will use a score of 1-4)
Learning – 4 (I imagine you would be learning all the time)
Challenged – 4 (I think it would be ridiculously challenging to be an astronaut)
Helping – 2 (I guess you might be helping the world in the broader sense with your achievements – but it wouldn’t be like a teacher who helps people directly every day)
Practical – 1 (There could be many reasons for this – but I am going to go with the fact that because I am ridiculously claustrophobic there is little chance I could do anything spaceship related [I haven’t rated it 0 because there is no required time travel])
So total score: 11
I would now go on to score the rest of my options.
#1 Goal setting tip step 4: Review
Now that you have a score against each of your options – you will be able to look at your highest-rated options and see which options align best with what is important to you and why.
From this list you can pick your most suitable goal.
The next step would be building a plan to start putting your perfect goal into action.
Let me start by taking you back a couple of years. I used to have a job that was unrewarding with very few enjoyable interactions in the day. And, I would spend all my free time on the couch – watching shows that were rarely enjoyable.
I was living a life that was low on meaning and happiness – it was a boring life.
Now, as someone who dedicated years to a boring life. I know it can be hard to identify when you are living one. You get caught up in the routine (moving between a meaningless job and the couch) – and years can pass quite easily without you realising that things should be better.
If you have found your way to reading this – then chances are something here resonates. And if it does, I want to encourage you to start thinking about making changes.
So, if your life is feeling a bit boring… dull…. or, blah… please read on.
This is not a straightforward question – but for the sake of this article lets define them as:
Happiness: the existence of positive affect (and therefore the lack of negative feelings). This could be described as Hedonia (an ancient greek term) – meaning striving for joy, excitement, pleasure, comfort, etc.
Meaning: feelings of purpose, value and worthwhileness. This could be covered by the term Eudaimonia – meaning striving for purpose and growth.
Both hedonia and eudaimonia have been found as components of life satisfaction.
It should be noted that eudaimonia (or meaning) can ultimately bring happiness into your life as well (often in a healthier and more sustainable way). But, I won’t go on about the benefits here because I covered purpose & meaning in detail in this article: Living a purposeful life is not quite enough.
So, today I am going to focus on the role of happiness (so you don’t have to live a boring life).
Why you need happiness in your boring life
There are a lot of benefits to having happiness in your life (besides the fact that it will make it less boring).
These can be physical, psychological and performance-based, such as:
A predictor to being successful across multiple regions of your life (eg. work and relationships)
Shawn Achor, the author of The Happiness Advantage, proposes that happiness and a positive mindset contributes to an increase in work performance across the board, including productivity, creativity and engagement.
Do these benefits seem worthwhile to you?
Why your loved ones need you – not to live a boring life
Now that I have put the facts before you. Do you want to work on increasing the happiness in your life? There are many reasons to do it for yourself.
But, there is another important reason.
Your happiness has a great effect on the people around you. It only takes a couple of minutes for your mood to be transmitted to another person. In fact, the closer your relationship the easier your mood can be transferred.
So – not only will a negative mood infect your loved ones. On the flip side – if you work on your happiness – not only will your life reap the benefits, the people around you will too, and the people around them, and so on.
You could be the cure to many boring lives.
Stop living a boring life
What makes you happy in your day-to-day life – might not be immediately obvious to you.
To put this another way. What brings you joy and excitement might be obvious. But, if you are like me, you may not realise how much time you spend on activities – that you mistakenly think are bringing you pleasure.
As an example – as a natural couch potato. I assume much pleasure can come from watching TV. However, often, I can find myself in front of the box:
Just looking for things to watch
Watching re-runs of shows that aren’t really amusing – or
Watching shows that make me unhappy or stressed out.
In fact, apparently our enjoyment peaks at about 30mins – then we slowly turn into a joyless potatos. So, in my world – that is many hours spent without pleasure or happiness.
When you think about your days at work:
How often are you happy?
Does your work bring you meaning or excitement?
Do you have exchanges with clients & co-workers that bring you pleasure?
Do you manage to find enjoyment in breaks?
If you feel like you have a boring life – then maybe not.
So – as a first step towards dialling up the happiness in your life. I encourage you to:
Identify the activities in your day-to-day that make you happy
Identify how often you are doing activities that make you happy in your week
Think about how “happy” you are with this balance.
This will be your (boring life) baseline from which you can build. And obviously, I encourage you to do this.
If not for yourself – do it for me. (Because due to the degrees of separation in the world – eventually, your happiness contagion should make its way to me!)
Why I advocate for: a package deal; avoiding being a miserable purpose-driven engine; & balancing out the joy-suckers.
These days – I feel like everyone is telling us to live a purposeful life.
Research tells us that living a purposeful life has many benefits. These range from psychological well-being and life satisfaction to physical advantages too.
But, I believe that purpose is only part of the picture. Especially, at a time when life is busy with work and kids. And today I want to explain why.
What is purpose?
The definition of purpose would be a sensible starting place for this discussion. This is easier said than done.
In literature, the definition and components of purpose can differ. However, research into the psychology of purpose generally agrees that it has three components:
Meaning: Your understanding of what brings personal meaning to your life
Goals: The pursuit of personal goals that are aligned to your meaning
The benefit of others: A component of your meaning-aligned goals will be for the benefit of others.
A bit about the research on living a purposeful life
The topic of life’s purpose has been mused over since ancient times. However, modern research for the psychology of purpose started with Austrian psychiatrist and concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankl.
During the Holocaust, Frankl observed a link between survivors and the presence of a sense of meaning. From the publication of his book Man’s Search for Meaning (1946) to the present-day field of positive psychology, there has been an abundance of data demonstrating the importance of purpose in our lives.
Let’s talk about the benefits of a purposeful life
Research demonstrates that purpose is an important component of psychological wellbeing. This is defined by both an enhanced positive state and a reduction in negative states such as anxiety, boredom, depression, and loneliness.
Purpose has also been found to correlate to many physical benefits. Including:
Why living a purposeful life isn’t all beer and skittles
I am not disputing that purpose is linked to positive emotions and wellbeing. But, anyone who is a parent knows – it doesn’t always bring happiness.
Happiness itself is a minefield term (that I will discuss in detail at a later date). However, let’s define it today – as a sense of pleasure.
Studies have found that parenting is a highly purposeful experience. However, if you are a parent that finds this experience 100% pleasurable – get in touch – I’ve always wanted to meet a unicorn.
In fact, the data suggests that primary caregiving is associated with an increase in depressive symptoms.
Are you a miserable purpose-driven engine?
So – if you are in the business of parenting – you may have found sometimes there is a hole where happiness used to be.
It should also be considered that research has shown – over our lifetime happiness can be represented by a U curve. According to this model, we can expect a continual decrease in happiness until we reach 49 – when it upturns and increases (so we can expect to be very happy in our 70s).
(Am I filling you with hope and excitement? 🙁 – bear with me)
For these reasons, I propose life has to be a package deal (for us under mid-50s primary caregivers). To avoid an unhappy outlook day-to-day – we need to concentrate on sprinkling happiness on top of our purpose-driven lives.
Now, I feel I need to tell you – this sort of happiness or pleasure we are talking about does not have the positive benefits of purpose. In fact, it may have some detrimental effects. (I will also cover further at a later date). But, sometimes – you have got to do – what you have got to do.
Because – in my mind – to get yourself happily out of bed in the morning – the key is to find the right balance in your life.
Behavioural Scientist Paul Dolan proposes we need to find the balance between being a “pleasure machine” who experiences more pleasure than purpose and a “purpose engine” that experiences more purpose than pleasure in the day-to-day.
How balanced is your life?
Now, it may be pretty obvious to you whether your life is striking the right balance. But, if you are wondering. Take a moment to self-reflect on the week that has passed.
(If you want to get serious get out a spreadsheet or pens so you can do some math or draw some charts.)
How much time have you spent on purposeful activities? Think about activities that felt fulfilling and worthwhile eg. projects at work, helping family or time exercising
How much time have you spent on pleasurable activities? Think about things that have brought you joy and excitement.
Is the balance right between the two?
What do you reckon – have you got the balance right?
The key to living a purposeful life – The package deal
So, although there is a myriad of reasons that you should be living a purposeful life. Remember, happiness should not be neglected. The very things that are giving you purpose could be sucking the joy out of your life. So, you need to strike the right balance.
For example, when the joy-suckers have gone to bed – put on your favourite tunes – pour your favourite drink – and get excited about your 70s… (the real winning age in the happiness U curve)