Know Your Big Life Goals

Posted on Jul 25, 2018
Know Your Big Life Goals

We can be very good at defining our short term goals (weekly, monthly or yearly) but not always as good at defining our big life goals (maybe because they’re so big or that achieving them seems so far away). Big life goals include what we want to achieve in our lifetime, the lifestyle we want to create for ourselves (and who we want to share it with) where we will live, what ideas or places we will explore etc. However, when we don’t properly define our bigger life goals it can make them harder to achieve or we can end up somewhere very different (even if it looks like we’re heading in the right direction at first). If you haven’t properly defined your bigger life goals (or even if you have) here’s some perspectives to consider.

Do you really know what you’re working towards?

Sometimes we have a big goal that seems very clear but in the experience of attaining it we discover that it’s not as we first imagined. For example, I recently discovered that the reasons behind wanting to own my own home were never very clear to me (even though I thought they were). Had I known those reasons at the beginning of my home owning journey, then the way I approached this goal would have been different. We purchased our first home a number of years ago after saving hard and sacrificing many things like going out for dinner, travel etc. After we bought it I got busy with renovating and decorating and I’m very proud of the home we’ve created. However, recently as I started coming to the end of renovating and filling the house full of every item I thought it required, I realised to my surprise that this picture of a home wasn’t what I really wanted. Yes I did want to own my own home but a four bedroom home full of lovely things was never the driving force behind this goal. What my real motivations actually were was the desire for a stable base that was a wealth building asset. And whilst I love being surrounded by beautiful things in a beautiful home, I realise that I don’t need as many rooms or things in it. Had I realised this in the beginning then the money I poured into the house and it’s belongings could have gone into the mortgage instead and by now I would have attained the true reason behind this goal which was the financial security of owning my own home. It has only been in the experience of working towards this goal that I’ve uncovered this for myself (and maybe I wouldn’t have discovered it any other way) but I’ve since re-evaluated all my other big goals as a result and in some cases completely adjusted them. Sometimes the obvious reason for doing something isn’t the real reason behind it so take the time to get honest about each of your big goals and work out if you’re working towards what their attainment means to you or possibly going a little off track like I did.

Is it an expectation you’ve adopted or truly one of your goals?

As we move through life we pick up ideas and expectations from others (as well as developing our own). Sometimes these things suit us, sometimes they don’t and sometimes they suit us for awhile and then we need to change them. However, we can also adopt goals without realising they’re not really right for us and again that’s why it’s so important to deeply question our motivations behind our big goals. For example, although my husband and I have been married for awhile things such as financial circumstances, studies, work or family commitments have always prevented us taking a trip together overseas. In fact we’ve never travelled outside of Australia together (which is why it’s always been on our “bucket list”). This year we have a special occasion to celebrate and the opportunity to travel and we’ve been busy dreaming and planning for it over the past year. However, as it started getting closer to booking everything in a month ago we started procrastinating, until finally we looked at each other and realised that neither of us wanted to go after all. This doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t have been a lovely experience or that we won’t still travel somewhere in the future, but the process of planning this trip had highlighted to us that we were living out a long held expectation we had for ourselves (and possibly an expectation others had for us too) rather than truly choosing something we wanted to do. Sometimes you have to mentally explore a goal first (like we did in preparing for this trip) to realise whether it’s right for you. If by doing so you realise that it’s not (and even you’ve shared this with others or committed to it mentally in some way yourself) remember that you can still choose not to do it and focus on something else you would truly enjoy instead.

What if you don’t have any big life goals?

Sometimes our big life goals are difficult to imagine, maybe you’re fearful of setting goals because you’re not sure you can achieve them or maybe you just don’t know what you want. There’s nothing wrong with not having any set goals for your life. Sometimes it can take time to discover them, maybe just experiencing life itself is your big goal or if big goals are too overwhelming choose shorter term goals instead. One way to discover what you might like in your life is to take opportunities to explore different experiences that you believe may suit you. For example, I was always good at English in school and won awards for it. As a result I was encouraged to study English at University and pursue it as a career and I followed this advice (partly because I wasn’t sure what else I would be good at and partly because being a writer sounded like an enjoyable career path). However, after I completed my studies and started out in this “ideal” career that I’d imagined for myself (ie: sitting in coffee shops scribbling notes, typing away at my desk, seeing my name in print, etc) I actually found the reality very different. Writing every day for hours turned into something very boring for me, I really missed interacting with people and I soon realised that the romantic dream I had of being a writer just wasn’t for me. However, had I not experienced living the dream I wouldn’t have discovered this for myself or that it’s actually the interaction with others that I really enjoy. Sometimes we need to try things first to discover if they’re right for us, so just explore a little and test some things out for yourself.

Truly understanding what your big life goals are is a journey into understanding yourself and what’s really important to you. When you know what they are and truly understand the motivations behind them then you can work towards them effectively (including ensuring that your shorter term goals are aligned to them and can contribute to getting you there as well). So next time you plan your weekly, monthly or yearly goals take a moment to look a little further ahead and think about your big life goals (even if it’s just to explore what they might be). If you go through this process regularly and are really honest with yourself, then you’ll discover insights and new directions which will make your life much richer and varied than you ever expected.

Photo credit: iStock.com/Neydtstock