On most mornings, I repeat to myself the words of John Wooden: “Make each day your masterpiece.” Some days seem closer to bringing this about than others. But, I don’t know that it is ever possible to live every minute to my highest standards, simply because being human means that I won’t be perfect.
At some level, we probably all make compromises with ourselves. If perfection is the only acceptable outcome, we will be disappointed, driven crazy, or both.
On the other hand, we will not know how close we come to achieving our goals unless those goals are formed. I am goal-oriented, perhaps even too much so, but I am careful about dictating to others how they should live. In fact, for parts of our lives, it’s essential that we just be rather than do.
Still, there is great value in actually articulating what we want to do with our lives:
1. Having goals helps us prioritize our time. If we have multiple competing activities that we want to do, our goals can help us decide what we should do right now.
2. Our goals shine a light when we are in the dark. Sometimes we are sad, and our goals remind us why we started a difficult task in the first place.
3. Finally, our goals affirm that we are worthy human beings. When we form goals, we are essentially stating that we are capable of achieving good and important things.
Even though I would like for everyone to know what they are aiming for, not everyone is ready to set goals. Sometimes not having formed your goals is a sign that you are still working things out in your life, which is a process that takes time and cannot be rushed.
For those who are thinking about goals, here are some tips to create or revisit your goals:
1. Consider your life holistically. You might have work or relationship goals. I would encourage you to think even more broadly. I organize my goals into the four areas of my life — spiritual, physical, intellectual, and social.
2. In many parts of your life (like your employment), you are encouraged to have S.M.A.R.T. goals — Specific, Measurable, Agreed upon or Attainable, Realistic/Reasonable, and Time-based. If you want to do this with your life goals, it will likely serve you well. Know, however, that these goals are for you. It’s important that you know when and if you are achieving your goals, but they do not necessarily have to conform to the format of those from the workplace.
3. Don’t think too small. I recently went back and looked at some goals from a few years ago. I was amazed and how small they seemed. This is your life — aim for greatness
4. The goal is an end, but getting there is a journey. And, in the end, the journey is life. For example, you might have a goal to get another degree. When the degree is done, your life will not end. What happens to you on the way to getting the degree is far more important than the moment when you receive a diploma. The “future you” might need the degree, but the world needs your knowledge, which the degree represents.
If you put some consideration in your aim, you might be surprised at what you can hit You have one precious life — one chance to spend your days on earth. You should put at least as much planning into your life as you do for your vacation. Your goals can be part of that plan.