Are you living life on your own terms? Or do you spend your days working to make someone else’s dreams a reality?
Sadly, many people will never achieve their goals or dreams. There are many reasons for that, but one of the simplest ones is that they don’t know how to set and stick to goals long enough to reach them. Or worse, they don’t have any goals at all.
I started setting goals back in 2014. Sometimes I do it every day, other times I do it weekly or monthly, but I’ve learned a lot in the process. 2014 was the year I decided to live life on my own terms regardless of what anyone else might say. I discovered my vision, and resolved not to give up until I achieved it.
In this article, I would like to share with you what I learned from setting goals. I hope this article will serve as a reminder to help you focus on the goals that genuinely matter to you and, more importantly, achieve them.
Now let’s get started. Here are the 7 important life lessons I learned from setting goals:
Life lesson #1 -The process matters more than the results.
No matter how talented you are, there’s no guarantee that you’ll reach your goal. There are times when I fail to meet my target, but I keep working on my goals every day without giving up. This is why it’s so important to focus on the process.
What do I mean when I say “focus on the process”? Well, I mean concentrating on what you do every day, week or month rather than on the end result you’re after. Focusing on the process is essential for a very important reason: it’s the only thing you have control over.
For instance, let’s say you want to write a book. A process-oriented goal would be to spend 30 minutes writing each morning. That’s a goal you have control over.
On the other hand, a result-oriented goal would be to sell 10,000 books by the end of the year. While you have some control over that goal by deciding how many books you’ll publish, who you’ll contact or how much you’ll spend on marketing, there’s no guarantee you’ll achieve it.
I’ve set financial goals that I’ve repeatedly failed to reach. I’ve set targets in terms of how much traffic I wanted to generate on my blog. I failed to achieve these targets multiple times. I’ve set objectives regarding the number of subscribers I wanted to have by a certain date. I failed to reach these as well. And that’s just a small sample of my “failures”.
Does this mean result-oriented goals are useless? Of course not! It’s essential to have both process-oriented goals and result-oriented ones. Here are the differences between the two in a nutshell:
- Process-oriented goals help you do the daily work that will allow you to reach your final goal.
- Result-oriented goals give you a specific target to aim at. Remember that you can’t reach a target you haven’t clearly defined.
That said, make sure you don’t get too attached to your result-oriented goals. Instead, focus on what you do on a daily and weekly basis. After all, what you do regularly will determine whether you’ll reach your long-term goals.
Remember that most of us are terrible at planning. That’s why you’ll fail to reach your targets many times. Fortunately, the more you set goals the better you’ll get at it.
Life lesson #2 – Patience can’t be underestimated.
Most people underestimate the amount of time and effort required to achieve their goals. That’s actually one of the main reasons why they fail to reach them. Because their initial estimation is so far off, they end up beating themselves up for lack of talent or blaming circumstances when they fall short—which is inevitable at some point. They often give up as a result.
Real estate investor and motivational speaker Grant Cardone recalls the following struggle when he created his first business at 29:
“I assumed it would take three or four months to get back to that income level of the job I previously had. Well, it took me almost three years to get my business to provide me with the same amount of income of my previous job. That was twelve times longer than I had expected. And I almost quit three months into my new business venture. Not because of the money, but because of the amount of resistance and disappointment I was experiencing.”
I have to admit that I’ve considered giving up many times. I had to remind myself to be patient and stay focused on the process.
What about you? Do you lack patience? Remember that anything significant requires time, be it a romantic relationship, a fulfilling career or a great friendship.
Read also: 6 Powerful Beliefs That Will Help You Persevere During Tough Times
Life lesson #3 – Failure doesn’t exist
Failure is just a matter of perspective. To fail, you must first have an idea of what success is for you. When you have a strong attachment to a fixed idea of what success is, you’ll be devastated when your results don’t match up with it. If you can let go of rigid perceptions of success, you won’t be disturbed by so-called “failures” (or, at the very least, they’ll have a lesser impact on you).
Your experiences aren’t “failures” unless you label them as such. If you feel like a failure as a person, it means you’ve gone one step further and are actually identifying yourself with these “failures”. That’s never a good idea!
The truth is, there’s no such thing as failure. Even if there was, your failures don’t define you. Here’s a reality check: Failure exists only in your mind and results from the way you choose to interpret events in your life. Over time, I’ve learned to perceive “failures” as feedback or learning opportunities.
I’ve found that this feedback exists for a reason. Sometimes it’s telling me something. Perhaps I’m not pursuing the right goals for me at the moment. Or maybe I need to change my strategy. It may also be that I need to persevere and accept “failures” as what they really are: temporary setbacks and learning experiences.
In any case, I came to realize that I win or I learn, but I do not fail.
Life lesson #4 – Setting the right goals is a MUST
When you set goals that are in alignment with your personality, values and vision, you’ll feel successful even if you don’t achieve them all. If, on the other hand, you’re stuck at the wrong job or pursuing things you don’t care about, you’ll feel empty inside no matter what you achieve.
As such, there’s nothing more important than setting goals that reflect who you are. Otherwise, you risk spending your life with the feeling that something isn’t right and missing the chance to do what you were born to do. You won’t be able to contribute to the world the way you were meant to.
I worked a job I didn’t like and I felt miserable. If I had stayed, I know I would’ve wasted my potential. It would have prevented me from helping thousands of people through the work I’m doing now. The only way to avoid making that mistake is to know yourself. My article, 10 Tips to Know Yourself and Get What You Want from Life, will help you with that.
Life lesson #5 – Flexibility is essential
Sometimes, people believe they must achieve all of their goals to be successful. Missing just one means failure. I strongly disagree with that school of thought. I like to think that goals are here to help you improve your life. You are the master of your goals, not a slave to them. This means that if a once exciting goal no longer feels right, you should consider dropping it. Your goals should help you design your ideal life, that is, a life that is aligned with your personality, values and vision. If you find you have a goal that no longer does this, there’s no shame in getting rid of it.
I’ve dropped many goals over the years. I’ve dropped goals that I didn’t feel excited about anymore. I’ve let go of some goals so that I could better focus on more important ones. I’ve also abandoned goals that didn’t allow me to leverage my strengths as much as I wanted to.
Be careful though. When you abandon a goal, make sure you do so for the right reason. For instance, feeling scared is not a legitimate reason to dump a goal. When you wonder whether you should drop a goal, simply ask yourself the following question and answer it with absolute honesty:
Is this goal moving me toward my ideal vision or away from it?
Life lesson #6 – Self-compassion is powerful
Are you too hard on yourself? I’ve been there, too. There have been times where I was my own worst critic, but I’ve learned to show more compassion toward myself over the years.
Achieving worthy goals requires tons of time and effort. The best way to stay on track is to remember that life is a marathon, not a sprint. The truth is, some days you won’t be as productive as you’d like to be. Sometimes, you’ll procrastinate for longer than you’d like and you’ll feel bad about it. That’s fine.
Rather than blaming yourself for lacking self-discipline, acknowledge your progress and remember that there are always ups and downs on the journey toward your goals. Make it a habit to encourage yourself and treat yourself with compassion. By doing so, you’ll become more resilient and will bounce back quickly. If you’re too rough on yourself, you’ll risk burnout and may become so depressed that you’re unable to work on your goals.
Life lesson #7 – Celebrating accomplishments is key
When things don’t go as planned, it’s easy to focus on the negatives while dismissing your past successes. It’s important to take time to write down your accomplishments (even the small ones) and celebrate them accordingly.
I like to write down all the compliments I receive in a dedicated notebook. It could be a positive review for one of my books or something nice someone said about me.
It’s also essential to remind yourself of your intentions. You may not be where you want to be in your life (yet), but if your intentions are pure, you should feel proud of yourself. Why not celebrate your intention to serve others, take care of your family or be a good person? The reality is that you can’t always control the outcome of your efforts, but you can always choose your intent. When you have good intentions, you’ll feel better about yourself and become more resilient, two things that will be of tremendous help as you journey toward your goals.
Setting goals is one of the most important things you can do. Most people have only vague goals, if they have any at all. Because they’re unsure of what they want to do with their lives, they end up spending most of their time making someone else’s dreams come true instead of working on theirs. They give their creative power away and achieve far less than they would had they decided exactly what they wanted out of life.
If you haven’t created clear goals that you work on daily, I encourage you to start setting them today! For more information on how to go about it, you can check out my goal setting books here.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article! If it helped you in any way, feel free to share it with friends, family or anyone you think will benefit from it. I’d love to know how setting goals works out for you, so please let me know in the comments section.
To learn more about goal setting and help you set and achieve goals that you’re genuinely excited about I encourage you to check my goal setting books below:
- Goal Setting: The Ultimate Guide to Achieving Life-Changing Goals
- The One Goal: Master the Art of Goal Setting, Win Your Inner Battles and Achieve Exceptional Results