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Setting life goals can be daunting for some; thus, some opt to follow the prevailing current and drift through life. 

The problem is, one day you will look back and regret that you have not done anything about what you really wanted to do with your life and that you have missed a big chance to achieve something amazing.

Are you one of those who let circumstances push and pull you to directions life chooses you to be in and settle to whatever life has to offer? Do you want to know what you can do now to start having a direction in life?

Procrastination is one of the main reasons why someone holds back from setting and achieving their life goals. Most people don’t want to admit that they are procrastinating, and just making up excuses for not taking a step towards their goal and putting it on hold.

People tend to procrastinate because of the following reasons:

a) Fear of failure

Fear of failure promotes procrastination. When a person feels that they are not capable of doing a task, they tend to delay the completion, or even worse, not bothering to start doing that task at all.

Having low self-esteem also contributes to increasing someone’s fear of failure because they tend to self-doubt their abilities, thus, promoting them to procrastinate. Also, having experienced failure in the past can make someone hold back their goals as they fear that they will fail again. 

b) Letting fate dictate your life

You use fate as an excuse for not taking responsibility when your life gets out of control. The truth is you can control destiny by taking full responsibility for your life. Instead of letting fate take control, you should lead your life by committing yourself to continuously learn and be bold enough to take chances and risks. Nothing will happen to your life if you have an “it happens when it happens” attitude. 

c) Unable to make firm decisions

Having a hard time when making a decision is usually caused by analysis paralysis or choice paralysis. Analysis paralysis or choice paralysis occurs when you have different options in front of you. It becomes harder to decide which one you will choose, thus, taking much of your time and energy. Analysis paralysis or choice paralysis will sometimes lead to postponing or delaying you from making a decision, which is a form of procrastination.

You can avoid procrastinating by using a simple hack to crush procrastination each and every time, and by setting your life goals. By doing this, you will motivate yourself and create a clear picture of what you want to achieve for your future. 

What is a Life Goal?

Life goals are the essential things you want to achieve in your life. Life goal gives you a sense of purpose, or your true calling, and excitement. It is also the foundation of everything that you do as you want your actions and decisions to help you be a step closer to your goal.

Why Set Life Goals?

Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor, actually did research with the help of 267 participants, divided into five groups. The result shows that 76% of participants in the 5th group did achieve their goals, because they have written their goals, took action and commitments, and progress reports to a friend.

Setting a life goal is important because it gives you a direction in your life by outlining your road map and helping you decide what path you will take. 

Another reason why you need life goals is that it helps you stop procrastinating. As previously mentioned, life goals enable you to fight procrastination. Without a goal, you are more likely to feel unmotivated because you have no sense of purpose.

Most people are motivated to do something because they are satisfying of filling their need(s). According to motivational theory, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, there are 5 stages of human needs: physiological needs, which are the bottom stage, followed by safety needs, social needs, esteem needs, and the top or peak stage, self-actualization needs

  • Physiological needs are the basic needs of a human e.g., food, water, and home.
  • Safety needs are the protection of human needs e.g., freedom, law, safety, shelter, and job.
  • Social needs refer to the feeling of belongingness or being loved e.g. family, friends, and relationships.
  • Esteem needs are your independence, status, reputation, and achievement.
  • Self-actualization needs are your desire to become something or yourself fulfillment.

How does this apply to life goal setting? Here is a classic example.

You desire to purchase a new home for you to live in (psychological needs) so that your family will have a safe neighborhood (safety needs). You wanted a home that has a huge living room and a backyard to entertain your visitors like relatives and friends (social needs). And because you have accomplished to provide a nice home for your family and shared this experience with other people, they admired and respected you.

Thus, it began to develop this positive feeling within you—your self-worth (esteem needs). Because of this, you become more confident that you can achieve more (self-actualization needs).

How to Set Life Goals?

Darts on A Table

Photo Credit – Pixabay.com

Before you start listing your life goals, you must start by having a positive attitude and you ignoring negativity around you. Being optimistic helps you worry less and become more resilient because you have more control over your emotions.

Also, your goals should follow the SMART criteria, which stands for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. By doing this, you are creating clear and realistic goals; thus, there will be a big chance that you will achieve you those.

Once you have the right outlook in life and applied the SMART criteria, you can now start with the actual life goal setting and making it happen.

1) Deciding What Your Main Goals are.

Choosing what you want to accomplish in life or the right goal can be hard for some; besides, you will be exerting effort and allocating your time to achieve those, right? So better yet, you choose the right one. 

What you need to do is find your true self. Sometimes, humans compare themselves with others because they are not satisfied with what they have and even with their own selves. As a result, they tend to set goals or even copy the goals of that person so that they could be at the same level as the person they are comparing themselves to. However, it does not mean that the steps to achieving their life goals will work to you as well.

A tip here is that you should know your values, what is meaningful to you, your strengths, and what you enjoy doing the most, even if you don’t get paid. When you get to know yourself more, it will be easier for you to choose a goal. 

2) Write Down Your Goals.

A proven way to achieving a goal is by writing down your goals in a clear and well-defined method. There is a neuroscience explanation on why you should do this which involves encoding that helps a person to remember something and recall important information.

Writing down your goals will also give you a sense of accountability and keep you motivated. This is because it is a way to bring your vision into a reality because you can see it (written down). At the same time, you are reminded of your goals and you can think about them regularly. It will also help you track your progress.

3) Write Down Your Sub-goals.

Now that you have a clear vision of your goals, your next step is to write sub-goals. The sub-goals are your mini-goals or small tasks that you need to accomplish for you to reach your main goal. 

Generally, your main goal is your long-term goal, because it is something you want to achieve in the future, and it requires time and extensive planning. This goal usually takes a year or more to achieve.

Sub-goals, on the other hand, are your short-term goals, and those are the tasks that you can start immediately, at the present time. These goals can be accomplished in a day, a week, or for several months only.

4) Set Realistic Timeframes for Each Goal

Set a deadline or time limit for your main goals and subgoals, this is to avoid procrastination and unnecessary delays. This is because there will be a sense of urgency and that you will do whatever it takes for you to meet your goal within a timeframe.

Also, deadlines will allow you to prioritize your tasks. Since you set a fixed schedule for your to-dos, you will be forced to focus on accomplishing one task before jumping to another.

5) Track your Progress

Measuring your progress is vital because it will give you a realistic picture of how you are currently doing with your goal. If you are on track, you will be more motivated and will gain confidence that you can accomplish your goals on time.

In contrast, if you are a bit behind your plan and not making your desired progress, you can easily identify what sub-goals need more attention and can figure out what changes you can do before your set deadline.


All goals, whether big or small, are achievable. You just need to stop making excuses to delay your goals and start taking action today. Set realistic and achievable goals by following the five tips mentioned above.  

Written By
Michael Shen is the founder and CEO of SkillSuccess.com, an online education platform that helps people in their career development. He's passionate about helping people reach new heights in their career, achieve their goals, and create a life they're happy with.

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