How to create personal goals

Written on December 22, 2022

As the year comes to an end, I’m excited to take some time off from work, recoup with the family and plan for the upcoming year.

When coming up with personal goals, I ask myself three questions.

  1. Why do I want to achieve these goals?
  2. What should I focus on?
  3. How do I know I’m making progress towards my goals?

Why do I want to achieve these goals?

Creating change is hard and there will be times when you hit slumps.

During these times it’s good to remind yourself of the why you’re working on the goals to help you get unstuck.

Your why could be as simple as a list of things that matter to you such as health or family members.

A good exercise in capturing your why is doing a little imaginary exercise.

Imagine you’re at the airport a year from now and you run into an old friend of yours. You and this friend have a little time before catching your flight so you hit up the cafe to catch up over coffee.

Your friend asks you, “Tell me, how is it going? How’s life treating you?”

You respond with, “AMAZING! Life couldn’t get any better.” And you really mean it.

What’s happening in your life a year from now that makes you respond like this?

Be specific.

What should I focus on?

I’ve never considered myself much of a goal-oriented person. But I do like making small improvements everyday.

But how do you figure out what you should focus on?

I use something called the Wheel of Life from Zig Ziglar.

The Wheel of Life is like a report card you fill out about different aspects of your life. The result is you get a visual of areas in your life you can decide to focus on.

Wheel of Life in a spreadsheet

The goal of the Wheel of Life is to have a life that is balanced and circular in all areas so that you have a smooth ride.

Here’s what my Wheel of Life looked like when I filled it out back in the fall of 2022.

Visual representation of my Wheel of Life

The cool thing about the Wheel of Life is, it also gives you an indication in a part of your life that you can than focus on as goals.

Looking at this list, I zoned in on the low scores in quiet time and personal affirmation in my personal category of my life. So I decided to work on goals that would help boost those scores up.

Zoomed in version of two categories from Wheel of Life

I personally like doing the Wheel of Life every 3 months and choose 2-3 areas to focus on.

How do I know I’m making progress towards my goals?

I’m a visual person and so, it helps if there is a visual way to track how I’m progressing towards my goals.

To do this I use Objectives and Key Results or OKRs.

You can read more about OKRs in the book Measure What Matters.

But the gist of OKRs is Objectives are your goals and your Key Results are the activities that you do that supports your objectives.

So let’s say one of my goals (objectives) is to become a barista. A key result might be learn how to make 5 drinks by heart within a month. Another one could be apply to 3 barista positions every week.

Example screenshot of becoming a barista as an OKR

As you can see, since there’s a numerical value associated to these key results, it helps visualize progress towards your objective.

I use a spreadsheet to check in with myself and track all this.

Remember to be flexible

While goals are fun and do help you step into the future of who you want to become, I’d also challenge you to be flexible.

Life is unpredictable and so your goals should be flexible to life.

If you stop or get side tracked along the journey of achieving your goals, it’s ok.

Use your why to remind yourself of why achieving these goals is important to you.

Or go through each of the exercises again and choose new goals.

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