What Should I Set Goals About? Goal Setting Tips & Strategies

Many people know that they ought to set goals but they don’t for a variety of reasons. One that comes up frequently is that they don’t know what to set goals about. There are three distinct groups of people that this article will be of use to…

The first are people who are new to goals, goal setting and personal development. If this is you and you are thinking, “What goals should I set?” don’t worry! This is a very common question and a good one to ask. This article will help you to answer it and to get started setting some goals that can you more of what you want in your life.

The second group of people approaching  goal setting are those who already set goals. You set goals already because you know how effective they are. You set goals already because you understand how much focusing on your own personal development and personal success can improve so many aspects of your life. You know that if you get one new thing or “remind” yourself of one core truth in this article then that could bring massive benefit for you.

The third group are the, “I don’t see the point of setting any goals” group. I hear you. This is a very common stance particularly in today’s society when people see goals as something that’s done to them and not something that they do for themselves. If you are in this group it might make sense to read my article “Why people don’t set goals even though they know that they should” before you continue with this article. On returning to this article you will find it helps you to set goals that you will see the point in setting.

Effective goals setting is all about setting the right goals. Setting goals that mean something to us. Setting goals that are in alignment with our values. Most people set goals that they were told to set or that they feel that they ought to set…

  • Salespeople chase targets set by their sales managers and directors.
  • Teenagers chase careers that their parents have coerced, convinced, cajoled and indoctrinated them to pursue.
  • Dieters set goals based on idealistic visions of beauty from magazines, models and their imagination.

You get the idea!

This kind of goal setting is no fun and is ultimately doomed to failure. Failure when you don’t achieve your goals and failure when you do!

When you set the right goals, goal setting is not like this. The right goals will motivate you. The right goals will empower you. The right goals will get you up early in the morning and keep you up late at night. The right goals will be in total alignment with your values and beliefs and every step you take towards achieving them will be an achievement in of itself.

Effective goal setting is also about setting goals that are all about what you want rather than what you don’t. When you think about these core areas that we are going to discuss make sure that you think about your goals in the positive (“I want to work with children and young people”) and not the negative (“I don’t want to be stuck in a stuffy office with a bunch of suits”). We’ll talk more about this and how to set goals another day but in the meantime, think in the positive…

Effective goal setting is about setting goals for all of your life. Many people only set goals for their career and theirfinances with the occasional weight loss goal at New Year! This is a fundamentally flawed plan as chasing one goal in one area of your life at the expense of all other areas of your life is likely to lead to imbalance and collapse. Even if you do want and do achieve your goal the end result could be catastrophic.

To help you with some ideas for what you should set goals about and to make sure you set goals across all areas of your life we are going to look at the core areas within which you should be setting general and specific goals.

1. Money and finance

Despite my protestations to the contrary earlier on in this article you should set money and finance goals. Many people fail to set any goals around this area and consequently fail to ever achieve anything.

One delegate I worked with had no goals in this area and no guidelines. Every month he spent his salary before the end of the month and every month he went further into debt. In today’s society of buy now pay later many people are on the slippery slope to financial ruin. Their short term goal is to get everything that they want as fast as possible! Their long term goal has not been thought through at all.

When I first started out in my career I wanted to save money but I never seemed to get around to it. I had no goal and no plan and I most definitely had no money. Once I set a goal to save a certain amount of money every month leading to a bigger finiancial goals I had a plan. I needed to deduct money from my salary every month to save towards my goal.

Another goal I set was for my daily charge out rate as a consultant. At the time I set this rate I had no idea whatsoever how or if I would ever hit it. It seemed a pipe dream to many around me. Within 5 years however I had overachieved my goal and had “reset” it twice… but more about how to set your sights on the stars and the importance of thinking big in another article (That said,  if you haven’t read The Magic of Thinking Big then you really should).

2. Career and work

In my experience many people are going through the motions in their careers. They go to work at 9am and come home at 5pm day in, day out. It’s just like the Sheena Easton song, “My baby takes the morning train, he works from nine till five and then, he takes another home again”, over and over!

Now there is nothing wrong with this if you are doing what you want to do and you are on path… It’s when you’re not that the problems occur and most people aren’t.

By a certain age many people fail to set goals for their careers and their work believing instead that they have found their place in life. The can dream of other things, they can wish for other things but they cannot have them. That’s the sort of thing that only happens to others.

By setting goals for our career and our work we can start to reclaim our right to build the career and life that we want.

Most people set goals around work like… doing as little as possible, getting home early on Fridays, getting a small bonus at the end of the year. This is fine if this is what you really want but for many it isn’t, they’ve just long forgotten what they really do want.

Spend some time and think about what you want now and set some goals around this are.

3. Loving relationships

How many people do you think have settled for relationships that are less than they want. I have no idea what the answers is but, as a citizen of this world, my firts thought would be… quite a lot.

Many people set a goal of just being in a relationship (“I want a partner”) but none around the actual quality of the relationship itself. This will often see the relationship bounce around on the turbulent waters of life before being smashed apart on the rocks. Ouch!

Think about what you really want out of your relationship and set some goals around this area. Once you have some goals you can start to think about what you need to do to bring them to fruition.

One friend of mine set a goal that he wanted his relationship to always be as fresh and as exciting as it was when he and his partner first met. Colleagues and peers told him that this was impossible and that life just wasn’t like that! My friend, in partnership with his wife, worked out what they would need to do to head towards that goal and he and his wife set out in pursuit of their goal.

They’re 10 years into their marriage now and seem, if it’s possible, even happier than they were when they first met.

4. Family and friends

How many people do you know who would like better relationships with their family and their friends? It shocks me how many people wish they had closer relationships with their mothers, fathers, siblings and extended familes.

It’s not surprising that in the close-knit bosom of many familes, relationships come under strain and resentment and ill-feeling grows. Spending time to set goals around your perfect relationships with your family and your friends will help and guide you in taking the actions that you need to take to bring that to reality.

5. Social activities and hobbies

Want to learn a language? Leran to play the piano? Travel the world? Got to the pub more often? Got to the pub less? Play tennis? Do regular exercise?

Most people would like to spend more time doing something. Many people would like to do things that they have never done at all. In a world of infinite opportunities this is a shame.

Many of these things may not attract you any more but some may. Taking the time to think about what you really want to do in your spare time and setting goals around it will help you to focus your attention onto activities that get you more of that you want in your life.

6. Personal develoment / spirituality

By personal development or spirituality I am talking about bettering yourself. About learning things. About improving. About seeking out to be everything that you can be.

I am not just talking about religion… although, for some, this is exactly what I am talking about.

Failing to include personal development goals is a mistake. Growth is important for humans as a race and people are happier when they feel that they are growing.

Goals in this area could be things around religion, personal development, learning stuff, communicating getter etc.

7. Health and fitness

Far too people set decent health and fitness goals. Many people set dieting goals or weight goals but these are not necessarily the same thing at all.

Health and fitness is something that many people do not take seriously when they have it but is something that everybody should set goals around if we want to keep it.

I used to run competitively and for years afterwards I ran 6 or 7 days a week and visited a gymn at least three times a week. I also ate incredibly healthily. About 5 years ago I realised that it was 15 years since I had run any kind of race or competition and that I had no plans to ever do so again.

I was also very busy with work so removing my old goal was welcome. Unfortunately, I “forgot” to set another goal to replace this one and over the next few years found myself not do anything enough exercise and eating poor food when I was travelling and in transit! 5 years on I am paying the price of my lack of health and fitness goals as I am having to work hard to meet my newly set goals to get me back to where I want to be.

What to do now!

I hope that this article has got you thinking about the infinite number of goals that you can set and the wide variety of areas in which you can set them. Your next step is to start to think about what goals you would like to achieve in each of these areas. Get your personal development logbook or if you haven’t got one your diary or a large piece of paper and head it with one of the areas we have talked about. Underneath scribble down everything you would like to do or ever thought about doing in this area.

At this stage it matters not where you are in relation to that goal or how likely you think it is that you think you can achieve it. The important thing is that you let you mind be more open to possibility and you capture that creativuty and energy. To get your mind in gear think about what you wanted to do when you were a child, a teenager, between 20 and 30, between 30 and 40 and so on…

We’ll be talking more about goals, setting big goals and avoiding roadblocks in the near future. In the meantime, get thinking about what you want to achieve and look through my recommended resources below.


The Magic of Thinking Big, Achieve Your Goals, Unlimited Power, The Ultimate Goals Programme.

Have your say:

Why not share some of your ideas, goals and experiences by commenting below.

About the author: Gavin Ingham
Gavin Ingham is a speaker and author on mental toughness and will help you to Be More, Do More & Have More in your business and in your life. For all of the latest news, podcasts, videos, tips and strategies join his newsletter. Sign up to the newsletter
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