goal-settingAs a mental health professional, I encounter a lot of people who are stuck in their lives. They may be experiencing things like depression or anxiety. However, a large part of their problem is often feeling stuck. Part of the reason for this is a lack of goals. While it’s rarely the final solution, setting goals can help people get moving toward something rather than sitting still.

Setting goals sounds like a rather simple process. However, setting goals that actually get us moving does require some work. As we discussed in our previous post about having written goals, most of us don’t spend enough time thinking about our goals and we rarely write them down. Here are 5 steps to help you get ready to begin goal setting.

1. Schedule time

Like anything else, if it doesn’t get planned, it probably will not get done. So, the first goal is to schedule a time to think about and work on establishing goals. It can be an hour or three. Make sure you schedule it. Think of this as an investment in your future.

2. Define what is important to you

 In the moment-to-moment of our days, we don’t often stop to think about what is really important to us. Instead, we take things as they come. This approach can get us through our day but may not get us to where we want to go.

Make a list of areas of life that are most important to you. Be sure to include all aspects of life. Here are some areas you may want to consider:

  • Health
  • Family
  • Spirituality
  • Friends
  • Career
  • Recreation
  • Education and learning

You can certainly add categories. These are my top 7, in no particular order.

Setting goals can help get us moving toward something rather than sitting still.

3. Describe each area

If I included “recreation,” what do I mean? I have to have a clear definition of this. For me, recreation includes vacation, golf, high school football games, and sometimes music. There are certainly other things that might fit into recreation, but these are the ones I’m engaged in at the present time. Some overlap with other areas. For example, high school football games are enjoyable but I also go to watch my son perform. Describe each area in a way that makes sense for you.

4. Prioritize each area based on today

 This part is difficult. A big reason is that life constantly changes. However, in an overall, global sense, what is most important? Is spirituality, health, or family? Does career take precedence? What is really most important? The importance of the answer to this question can’t be overstated. Notice, the question is not, “What do I wish was most important to me” or “What should be most important to me?” What is the real answer to that question? Remember, this is a picture of today – it can be changed.

5. Rate yourself in each area

On a scale of 1 – 10, rate your performance in each area. This is not meant to be condemning or a way for you to be hard on yourself. It’s simply a way to tell yourself the truth about a particular area of your life. Remember, we’re preparing to set goals. Hopefully, these things will change over time – that’s the point!

If you get through these 5 steps, you should be able to establish some things to work toward. From here, actual goal setting can begin. Our next blog post will discuss the different parts of setting good, meaningful goals.


How difficult would it be for you to go through these steps? Share your comments. We would love to hear from you.