Why bother setting goals?
Do they really make a difference?
Will they make my life better?
If you are asking these questions, you probably have your doubts about the importance of goal setting.
This article will try to convince you that goals are a valuable tool in creating the type of life you want.
Here are 20 reasons why goals are important.
1. Goals require you to identify what you really want.
Only when you know what you want to achieve can you make that your goal or objective.
When you sit down to think about the types of goals you want to set, you are forced to consider what truly matters to you.
This process is very revealing. You are required to look inwards at your core values and identify specific aims that are in accordance with those values.
When your goals and your values are in harmony, you will live a life of greater internal peace.
2. Goals provide a roadmap to follow.
A life without goals is one of aimless wandering. Some people may find this an adequate or enjoyable way of living, and that’s okay.
But most of us will feel more at ease in our lives when we have a direction to follow.
Goals provide this direction.
When you have a goal, it requires you to figure out a way to go from where you are now to where you’d like to be.
A goal is your destination and it’s up to you to find the most appropriate way of getting there.
And once you have that roadmap, it helps you to make adjustments to your actions should you begin to veer off course.
3. Goals give you hope.
Goals are aspirations. They are visions of the ways in which our lives might be made better.
That is a powerful thing. When you can see a better life with clarity and you have an idea of how to reach it, you are filled with hope.
Hope is one of the most incredible feelings. It inspires and energizes, and it makes any hardship we currently endure seem less permanent.
Hope is the light at the end of the tunnel that keeps us taking forward steps to reach it.
Hope for a better future is responsible for many of the advancements in humanity and it can have an equally important role to play for the individual.
Hope, alone, is reason enough to set goals.
4. Goals make things seem more achievable.
One of the ways in which goals can give us hope is by taking something which seemed out of reach and making it a real possibility.
Remember, goals help you to identify a route from A to B, and all you have to do is follow this route.
No longer is a better future too difficult to achieve.
You know what you need to do.
All it takes is the right actions and the right attitude and you can take what once felt like a mountain and turn it into a less daunting hill.
5. Goals lead to action.
Success comes when action is taken.
You have to do things in order to change your current situation and move toward your preferred situation.
When you have a clear and manageable goal, it spurs you on to take action.
The very first step can only be taken when you know where you are headed. Otherwise, you may end up going in the wrong direction.
So not only do goals lead to action, they lead to the right kind of action.
6. Goals make things concrete.
Dreams and goals are often confused, but they are slightly different things.
Dreams can provide some of the things that goals provide, but they are rather distant and not all that real.
Goals are dreams that have been fully formed through careful thought and consideration.
Goals are far more specific. They contain detail. They hone in on the most important aspects of a dream and crystallize them in your mind.
Dreams are as much a feeling as anything else. They are what we long for.
Goals are not feelings. They are places. Goals are destinations that we intend to reach, not just think about.
7. Goals shed light on failures.
It may sound strange to talk about failing in an article about the importance of goals, but no journey is without its setbacks.
When you trip and fall, or when you lose your way, that is not the end.
Failure should not be seen as permanent, but as a chance to regroup and go again in pursuit of your goals.
Failure teaches us what doesn’t work so that we may try a different approach.
If we didn’t have a clear goal in mind, we wouldn’t be so aware of our failures. And when we don’t see something as a failure, we are doomed to repeat it.
Failures provide lessons and goals show us when we fail. So goals are essential in helping us to learn new things.
8. Goals are a reason to make sacrifices.
To strive to grow as a person requires effort and dedication. But it also requires sacrifice.
The time you spend working toward your goals is time that could be spent on other things.
You might have to give up some of those things if you want to achieve the outcome you are hoping for.
Similarly, you might need to sacrifice other enjoyable or convenient experiences to improve your future.
A healthy and balanced diet might mean giving up daily chocolate bars or sugary drinks.
Leading a greener lifestyle might mean ditching the car in favor of public transport wherever possible.
Changes such as these are not easy to make. You will have to adapt to a different way of doing things.
That in itself is a sacrifice – a sacrifice of the status quo that you’ve grown comfortable with.
9. Goals can keep you focused.
When you have a clear goal in mind and you have developed a roadmap of how to achieve it, you can steer clear of things that might pull you off course or slow you down.
When something comes along that has the potential to consume your attention, you can ask whether it is helping you to achieve your goal.
If it’s not, you can choose to ignore that distraction and maintain focus on the actions that will take you a step closer to your ideal endpoint.
Without a goal to work toward, you will be easily swayed by the lure of immediate gratification. Your focus will not be on those things that might improve your life.
10. Goals allow you to prioritize.
There are often many things that can propel you in the direction of your goals.
But some tasks or actions are more important than others.
Having a clear vision of your destination allows you to identify which steps are the most important.
You can focus on these first of all and decide if and when to address anything else.
You can set priorities and maximize your effectiveness by sticking to the things that matter most.
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11. Goals allow you to measure progress.
Goals that are specific provide ample opportunity to judge how far you have come.
You can measure the changes that you have so far achieved and calculate how far you have left to go.
This is helpful because it keeps you on track, gives you an idea of timeframes, and keeps you motivated.
For example, if you need to save $20,000 for a deposit on a house, you can take stock on a monthly basis to see how much you’ve managed to save.
You can use this information to adjust your lifestyle if you aren’t on track to meet your goal by your deadline.
Or you can treat yourself just a little if you are significantly exceeding your targets.
12. Goals generate momentum.
Pursuing a goal is a bit like pushing a boulder up a hill. But the summit is not the goal.
The summit is merely the point where things start to get easier.
At first, you have to put in some real effort and it can seem insurmountable.
But once you have got over the hump, you begin to pick up speed as you head down the other side.
The previous point talked about measuring progress and it is this progress that creates momentum over time.
At first, progress can seem a little slow and the changes you are making seem difficult to maintain.
But after a while, the realization that you are moving in the right direction only serves to make things easier and more manageable.
Progress builds upon progress and you are more likely to speed up as you get closer to your goal.
13. Goals provide a worth ethic.
Putting in hard work is not always enjoyable.
Doing so without a clear end point in mind is not sustainable.
But having a goal gives you a reason to work hard.
You know why those long hours are necessary. You are prepared to put in the blood, sweat, and tears because you see the rewards of doing so.
You aren’t just working for the sake of working. You are building something of value for your future.
Having a goal is motivation in itself.
14. Goals prevent wasted time.
Time is precious. Once gone, it can never be got back.
With no direction to follow, your time is not well managed. You are more likely to spend it on things that do not provide value to you in terms of well-being or enjoyment.
A goal focuses the mind and keeps you doing things of importance that will help you to grow as an individual.
Goals alone can’t prevent procrastination, but they do help.
You are more likely to choose to spend your time productively if you know that it will contribute to a better future for you.
15. Goals make you more resolute.
Time is one of the resources available to you. Money is another.
When people try to tempt you away from your path and use your precious resources for other things, a goal can help you to say no.
Without a goal, you might see no reason NOT to get distracted or to indulge a bit too much.
But knowing the likely consequences of doing so in regards to your goal can help you to stick to your guns.
You’ll be able to turn down invitations or put limits on the amount of time, money, or other resources you are willing to use.
16. Goals hold you accountable.
A vague desire to achieve something is just that: vague.
It is not enough to make you take responsibility for turning that desire into action.
A goal goes beyond a desire. As discussed above, a goal is more concrete and detailed and setting one holds us more accountable for our actions.
The choices we make – both big and small – have to be taken more seriously. Goals make us more aware of the cause and effect of the things we do.
We realize that life doesn’t just happen to us. We play an active role in how things pan out.
17. Goals help you overcome adversity.
Life can sometimes be hard. Goals can help us get through these tough times.
When we are faced with obstacles in our path, a goal can provide the impetus we need to seek a solution.
Goals provide a vision of the future where these tough times we’re in now are nothing but a memory.
They prevent us from wallowing in sorrow or playing the victim. They empower us to climb out of the hole we find ourselves in.
18. Goals boost self-belief and self-confidence.
To be more accurate, achieving a goal can boost the belief we have in ourselves and the confidence we have in our abilities.
So setting and achieving small goals can give you the belief you need to set and tackle even bigger goals.
And when we face challenges – even when we fail at something – we can look back on the goals we have achieved and find inspiration to try again.
19. Goals give you reasons to celebrate.
When we achieve a goal, we should recognize it and celebrate our success.
Even as we hit milestones of a bigger goal, we can celebrate the progress we are making.
Celebrations don’t even have to be external. They can simply be the warm glow of satisfaction at changing your life for the better.
And if you do want to go all out and celebrate a really big win, other people will better appreciate the reason why and celebrate with you if they can understand the journey you have been on.
20. Goals give you a why.
Many of the points above can be summarized by saying that a goal provides you with a reason why you do the things that you do.
Goals give you direction and purpose and help you to find enjoyment and contentment in your life.
Goals guide your actions, they energize you, they remind you that you are on the right track.
You can’t feel lost if you have clear goals to work toward.
A final word on goals and journeys.
As much as this article is designed to convince you of the importance of goals, you should not see the goals themselves as the be all and end all.
No goal is a final destination, but merely a waypoint in life.
And this brings us to a vital truth that you must bear in mind: the journey is as important as the goal itself.
Life is not simply the culmination of all your hard work and effort. It is your hard work and effort along with the rewards or benefits that come from it.
Don’t allow your focus to become so consumed by the goal that you don’t enjoy the ups and downs of reaching it.
Life is to be lived in the present moment, even if that moment involves you working toward something for tomorrow.