How to Set Life Goals as the Foundation for Your Success

Coming up with a set of goals is one of the most important things you can do. They can change your life from one of unfocus to one where you are like an arrow moving directly towards the things that will make you happy. In fact, almost all successful people I have come across practice goal setting. The goals that you will come up with are not only going to be financial goals to set, but instead many of them will be about what would make you happy in your life.

My Life Goals

I’ve included my life goals examples here for you to skim over in order to give you an idea of what a goals list might look like. They are listed in order of importance to me. These are good life goals to have, but everyone wants different things and is in a different place in life, so don’t be surprised if your list is very different.

Goal

Why

How

When

Live a healthy life. Exercise. Do the right things to avoid heart disease, cancer and other sickness.

Be there for my family, don't die at a young age. Enjoy things like travel, because my body is still functioning at a high level.

Take time every day to exercise. Research healthy foods and what is linked to cancer and other sickness. Research foods that are linked to anti aging.

Now

My children feel loved, live a long healthy life, and reach their full potential.

I love my children and want the best for them. To see them fail due to bad parenting on my part would be the worst outcome.

Read 4 self help book a year on child development. Spend time with children. Make money to buy them life enriching items. Feed them healthy foods. Limit television. No video games.

Now

Have a passionate relationship with my wife. Connect on a personal level, do things to surprise here. Find time for our relationship.

I love my wife and want her to be happy. Getting a divorce, would be bad for the kids.

Get a babysitter or some other way to spend time alone together. Get the kids to bed on time so you can spend time. Make a reminder to do something that surprises her, like a gift or otherwise ever couple of weeks. Read self-help books on relationships, work on stuff such as conflict management or how to develop a deeper relationship.

Now

End of addictive behaviors such as, playing computer games, checking the news, social media, and Reddit.

These behaviors take my focus away from what is important in my life and lower the chance that I will get to where I want to be.

Buy a blocking program for websites for phone and computer. Delete social media from phone. Install a plugin to block the YouTube home page suggestions. Track how much time is spent doing these things so that there is a clear downtrend established.

1 year

Buy a house

Don't have to uproot the children when you switch rentals. Make your wife happy. Have an asset for retirement that should appreciate over time.

Sell rental property. Keep your day job. Cut back on expenses.

1 year

Achieve Financial Freedom

Never worry about money again. Be able to focus or do whatever I want. Devote my life towards helping people and doing stuff like curing illness or something truly meaningful.

Get free money. Work on your existing business. Invest money in the stock market.

5 years

Quit my job

No more long and boring meetings. No boss telling you to do things that you do not want to do. Spend more time with family.

Make enough money in your business or the stock market so that you do not need to rely on job income. Consider moving to a cheaper location to reduce expenses.

3 years

Personal Chef

Never have to grocery shop or meal prep again. Get more free time back to devote towards other things.

Make a lot more money. Consider grocery delivery services and meal delivery services to help move towards this goal of spending less time in this area.

5 years

Maid

Get more personal time. Less vacuuming and other things I don't enjoy. Live in a cleaner house.

Consider hiring a maid once a month and work up to a higher frequency as you make more money. Buy a Roomba?

5 years

Euro Trip

See different cultures, experience different foods, and history.

Start a vacation fund. Put a certain amount away each month until you have enough to visit at least one country.

5 years

What are you Unhappy About in Your Life?

If you are having trouble coming up with goals, making a list of items that you are dissatisfied with is a great way to come up with goals. The more honest you can be in an exercise like this the better the ideas that will come out of it.

Don’t be Afraid to Go Big on Your Goals

When you come up with these goals, don’t short change yourself. Even if you cannot fully understand how to get the goal to become a reality, it can be worth it to write it down.

Having lofty goals will help motivate you. What’s a more motivating statement? I want to quit my job in 3 years or 20 years? Which goal is going to push you into action and get you excited?

Having big goals will also change your behavior. Knowing the goal is out there you will push yourself more. Your behavior will actually change in ways that will make it more likely that you will achieve the goal. I’ll give an example. I was able to save money to invest in the stock market. I had it invested in some solid growth stocks and I thought that I could make 10-20% a year on those. However, when I thought about it, I wasn’t really ever going to get anywhere near my goal of quitting my job or financial freedom on this path. I was more likely to retire with extra money, but that was about it. So I sold the stocks and invested in a much more speculative stock of a brand-new company. I put enough money in so that I could quit my job if it hit the target I wanted. I realized as well, if I could put in some extra money I could actually attain my financial freedom goal too. Will it work out? Who knows, but the point here is that setting a loftier goal changed my behavior from going for a base hit to swinging for the fences and I’ve gone from a zero percent chance of hitting those goals to something higher.

Why Do You Want The Goal

List out the reasons why you want your goal. This will help motivate you to pursue the goal. An abstract goal, like I want to be rich is much less motivating than I want to quit my job and get a Tesla. Really try to think of the true reason why you want the goal.

Sometimes when you do this, you realize you actually have the wrong goal written down. For example, maybe you want to be rich, because you think that can help you get a good life partner. However, you don’t really need to be rich to do that, and there are probably faster and easier ways to meet the love of your life. In this case the goal should actually be to meet someone and the “why” would be how that would enrich your life.

Set a Time Limit

Give yourself a realistic time horizon of when you want to achieve the goal and write it down. This is important to do, because it can help tell you if you are on track to achieving the goal or if you need to change your plan.

Rank Your Goals

The next thing I want you to do is rank your goals in terms of importance. What this part of the exercise does is help set your focus. You have a limited amount of time each day and you want to focus on the goals that matter the most to you, as opposed to the easiest to achieve goals.

Being healthy is my #1 goal. To me, this makes sense, what’s the point of becoming financially wealthy if I die of a heart attack one week later? How am I going to be a loving husband to my wife when I’m dead?

Before I did the ranking exercise do you think this is where I spent my time? Absolutely not, if anything I did the exact opposite. I actually sacrificed my health to achieve other less important goals. For most people the things that matter most, are not the things that they are focusing on.

Reevaluate Your Goals and Plans

Both your desires and your circumstances change over time. You can image that my goals were very different when I was younger and was not married with children. It’s a good idea to update your goals 2-4 times a year to make sure they are still in alignment with what you want and where you are going.

You also need to look at your plans. You need to see what is working for you and what is not working. It’s important to see if you are currently on course to achieve your goals, in the timeframe that you are looking for. Grinding away at something can feel like progress, but it’s not always true. What you need to do is evaluate the progress you are actually making and not the time spent. If you are not on track you need to look at what is working with the current plan and what is not working and then change your course.

Here is an example of changing plans I experienced over time:

  • Plan 1: Make money on Ebay doing retail arbitrage, which is buying items from stores then selling them for a higher price. What were the downsides? Takes a lot of personal time to shop and find items to sell. If someone steals your item, which happens a lot on Ebay, profit margins are low, and it cuts deeply into profits.
  • Plan 2: Switch from retail arbitrage to buying items from liquidation companies. Liquidation companies sell items from companies that are going out of business at a deep discount. Now profit margins were higher and if someone stole the package, it was not such a big deal, because not as much money was lost. I also did not have to spend a lot of time shopping for items. The downsides here were that liquidation items could take a while to sell and there needed to be a lot of space for storage. It was also taking a lot of time to take pictures of items. If something sold well there was no way to get more of it after it sold out.
  • Plan 3: Sell my own product on Amazon that I sourced from a manufacturer. The profit margins were good. I didn’t have to worry about competing with someone who was selling the same thing as me and I only had to take one set of pictures of the product.

Hopefully that gives you an idea on how you can iterate on a plan and continue to improve it to achieve the goal. Don’t get stuck in a sunk cost fallacy. Sometimes you have to burn something of value down and start over for bigger gains. For example, I had built an Ebay account with a very good reputation and when I switched to making my own product I was selling on Amazon and had to start from scratch on a new platform.

Take Action to Achieve Your Goals

Now that you have your goals, you really want to hit the ground running and try to achieve them. The more time you can put into these goals the better the chances that they will become a reality for you. Print them out to help motivate you and run through them weekly to see what progress you are making. Before long you will start hitting your life goals and dreams and your life will be changed for the better!