Today I want to talk about life goals, what they are, how to set them, and why they matter to your legacy.
What are life goals?
A life goal is simply a purpose that we pursue for the rest of our lives. A well-defined life goal helps us understand where we should spend our time, energy, and efforts.
A life goal decreases anxiety and aimless wandering. If an action pushes us further towards our ultimate purpose, then we can confidently pursue that activity with minimal worry. If an act draws us away from our individual life purposes, then we should cease pursuing that activity.
What to avoid in a life goal
Society-focused or dependent – We are individuals. We have power and control over our fates and our fates alone. Thus, deciding an ultimate aim that requires the actions and effects of others too heavily is a poor decision. For example, “ending world hunger” requires the actions of others and is too large for an individual to accomplish. Even ending hunger in your local community is too externally dependent.
“Take every opportunity to help others” is internally focused and dependent on the individual. No matter one’s resources, we’re always presented chances to help others. Thus we will always be challenged whatever our external situation.
Lacking personal growth or development – Daily growth is the purpose of a life goal. An aim that doesn’t challenge us is not worthy of our time and should be discarded.
For example, “Arrive to work on time” is a static goal. Arriving at work is a bare necessity of a job, and very few places will promote you for simply showing up at the time agreed. Additionally, one could easily fail in other areas of time management when controlling tardiness for work is the only focus.
“Learn and remember a new language every three years” promotes growth. For one, you’re constantly pushing yourself to learn a new language. Secondly, you have to maintain what you’ve already learned. Lastly, to learn a language, you have to grasp the culture that language dominates in. All of these realities promote growth and development.
Doesn’t take virtues into account – Action without morality can be dangerous. We shouldn’t plow through life acting without regard to what is preferable, moral, or virtuous.
Virtue is a significant topic in and of itself but I have touched upon the key virtues, and I have a section dedicated to the subject. However, virtue is operating in a moral way that respects the people around us while adhering to the concepts and ideas that promote the best in us.
Thus, “kicking people while they’re down” is not a noble life aim because it isn’t loyal, generous, courageous, or magnanimous. Additionally, such actions undermine the heart and soul of an individual which leads to a lesser and more painful existence.
“Always seek to help people when I can” is a more virtuous life purpose and ensures we’re strengthening our community and ourselves.
“Bucket List” mentality – A life purpose should challenge us. “Going to Europe” is easy, direct, and rather dull. Additionally, it is consumerist as well as apathetic toward virtue and growth.
“Seek to learn about other cultures” is a more substantial plan and may include going to Europe. We must always position ourselves away from consumptions and instead focus towards greater pursuits that fundamentally change our lives.
How to craft a life goal
I have three life goals:
- Be the best father and the best husband
- Tell better stories that enrich individuals and inspire them to greatness
- Be happy and virtuous
I can’t accomplish my life pursuits easily. Thus they avoid the “bucket list” mentality. Additionally, my goals are internally driven but conscious of my external world. Lastly, to pursue any of my goals, I need to grow as an individual regularly and consistently. Being static or comfortable will ensure my complete failure.
Here are some thoughts I used to reflect on my life goals:
- What am I passionate about? What do I love? – I love my family and the joy they bring me. Additionally, I love stories and the way they can inspire individuals to greatness (e.g., Superman, A Lesson Before Dying, or Fallout 4).
- What am I good at or what would I like to be good at? – I am a gifted writer, but I also want to learn to draw. Through these skills, I will provide for my family while telling better stories.
- What virtues do I admire? – I’m a big fan of loyalty because I was never shown it as a child and I wish to show it to my family. I am also a big fan of magnanimity because we must think that our goals and lives are essential or we will fail to live to the fullest.
I try to keep my life goals to under five. Having too many will create confusion as well as anxiety. Furthermore, my goals are not easy to accomplish. I can’t become the best father in a few years; I have to keep working at it. By setting goals that can’t be achieved quickly (i.e., “go to Europe”), I’m always pursuing something great.
Consider the “why” of your life goals. Even if I lose my family (God forbid) I still have the “whys” – I believe that by being the best husband and father I improve the world and raise healthy children who will do the same. Even without children, the core principle of improving the world through the passionate pursuit of virtue can be accomplished.
Lastly, the redefinition of life goals is never wrong. Life changes and we have to be able to adapt. However, if at the heart of your life goals are the pointers outlined above, then you’re not losing anything.
Your life goal determines your legacy
Our legacy is what we leave behind for our descendants. Do we leave them a story of greatness or a tale of insignificance?
We are created for greatness. Never, ever shoot small with your life. We must always pursue the noble and the significant – nothing less.
My legacy is that people remember me as a man who took every chance that he could to become a better person. “Better” means radically pursuing the ten key virtues while protecting my sovereignty as an individual.
Once you’ve determined your life goal, look at what you want to be remembered for so you can ensure all actions adhere to your life goal, while also providing positive benefits to decedents.
Life goals are what we build our existence on. Without a clear understanding of what we want and what we value, we will feel lost and anxious as we move through the days. However, by defining what we want for ourselves, we can confidently guarantee that our lives are never without purpose or virtue.
Read articles that cover life goals and legacies
- 4 Easy Steps to Setting Your Life Goals
- Everything You Need to Know About Setting Life Goals
- What Will Be Your Legacy?
I now have a page dedicated to goals. Additionally, I’ve written older, relevant posts:
Actions to take:
- What do you want to be remembered by? What legacy do you wish to leave?
- If you need help devising a legacy, reflect on the virtues and your life goals. From these elements, think about what you want people to remember you for, i.e., what would you like on your tombstone?
- Do you have life goals? If you do, reflect on how you decided that they were worthwhile objectives.
- If you do have life purposes, are you taking the time each day to do the actions necessary to achieve those goals?
- If you don’t have life goals, why not? Additionally, write a list of a few things you love to do and the people you care about deeply. How can you tie these people and activities to the creation of life goals?
Please remember that it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.
*Image credit to Unsplash