The 3 Major Areas of Life to Set Goals In 

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What goals should you set for success in all aspects of your life? What are the major areas of life to set goals? 

You might want goals for every part of your life: finances, career, relationships, health, etc. However, it’s important to strike a balance when considering the areas of life to set goals. While you can’t prioritize everything, you also shouldn’t neglect everything to just focus on one or two areas. 

Here are some things to consider when setting goals in different areas of your life. 

1. Setting Career Goals

Your career is one of the most important areas of life to set goals for. If you don’t set career goals, you might end up taking up opportunities that may be profitable but that don’t realize your potential. 

According to Peter Drucker, the author of Managing Oneself, the first step to setting career goals is to self-reflect to find your strengths. Discovering your strengths is necessary to success because working on your strengths is the most efficient, and thus best, way to make yourself stand out and advance your career. It doesn’t take much effort to improve something you have a natural ability in, and this effort could turn you into an exceptional performer. Conversely, it would take a good deal of effort to work on areas in which you’re less skilled, and the results would be less impressive—taking you from poor to mediocre.

The Importance of Favoring Your Strengths

Drucker’s advice to work on the things you’re already good at may seem counterintuitive because you may assume that it’s important to focus on improving areas of weakness. However other authors have echoed this idea. 

For example, Cal Newport, author of So Good They Can’t Ignore You, suggests that it’s important to feel like you’re competent at your work, which can stem from choosing to do what you’re good at: in other words, playing to your strengths. Competence is important because it’s a pillar of the principle of self-determination, which is the intrinsic motivation you feel to perform well. In turn, self-determination brings a sense of job satisfaction. Therefore, if you play to your strengths and thus feel like you’re competent at your job, your sense of job satisfaction will naturally increase. 

To work from your strengths, you must first identify them. To that end, Drucker asks you to write down a prediction of what you think will happen every time you’re at a significant crossroads in your professional life and have to decide on a course of action. At the end of each prediction’s time period, go back and evaluate how accurate your assumptions were. Drucker’s suggested time window for predictions is nine to 12 months. 

When you’re reflecting on the last nine to 12 months, frame your analysis around what went well and what didn’t go so well. Then, use this to infer your strengths, presuming that your successes were thanks to your strengths.

Once you know your strengths, you’re in a position to set a meaningful career goal. Start by setting a career-related target and then working backward to make a step-by-step plan for achieving it. 

TITLE: Managing Oneself
AUTHOR: Peter F. Drucker
TIME: 15
READS: 100.9
BOOK_SUMMARYURL: managing-oneself-summary-peter-f-drucker

2. Setting Social Goals

Relationships are another area of life in which you should set goals. No matter how independent and skilled you are, you will not achieve success on your own. You need allies—both in your personal and your professional life. 

In your personal life, surround yourself with people who help you and bring you joy. Reduce—or ideally eliminate—the time you spend with people who take more than they give. For example, if you routinely spend time with a friend who complains about everything and never offers anything positive or motivating, it’s in your interests to end that relationship.

In addition to personal relationships, you should put effort into developing your professional network. According to Richard Koch, the author of The 80/20 Principle, you should aim to build  a network of six or seven top performers who you trust and respect, broken down as follows: 

  • One or two mentors with more industry experience than you
  • Two or three professional peers with similar work experience
  • One or two mentees who can keep you informed of emerging trends

By building alliances with people in different stages of their careers, you can benefit from diverse perspectives and knowledge. Just be sure to devote time to nurturing those relationships and be proactive in supporting your allies. High-quality professional allies yield high returns.


3. Setting Money Goals

Another important area of life to set goals for is your finances. When you know your personal financial goals, you can ignore irrelevant information that might lead you to make poor decisions, such as basing your financial moves on others’ actions, and thus you’re able to make better financial decisions and better protect your financial health.

If you don’t define clear financial goals, you’re prone to acting based on the wrong information and you’ll make poor financial choices as a result. As an example, consider the economic devastation caused by bubbles. A bubble is an economic situation where an asset price becomes significantly higher than the asset’s actual worth. During a bubble, long-term investors often base their financial decisions on information they don’t realize is only relevant to short-term traders.

TITLE: The Psychology of Money
AUTHOR: Morgan Housel
TIME: 52
READS: 120.4
BOOK_SUMMARYURL: the-psychology-of-money-summary-morgan-housel

4. Other Goals

In addition to social, financial, and career goals, you might want to set personal self-improvement goals. Perhaps you want to start doing slightly more or slightly less of something (e.g. exercising more or watching less TV). 

Slight improvements like that can make a massive difference in your life. For example, drinking less daily soda can save you hundreds of dollars a year and spare you thousands of calories. Similarly, watching one hour less of TV each day adds up to 365 hours that you could use another way. 

Follow these two steps to set personal goals that you’ll stick to: 

1. Decide What You Want” and pick one to work on. For example, you may want to improve your strength and flexibility and commit to practicing yoga twice per week. Whatever your interest, decide what you want, and make a plan to reach it.

2. Use a scoring system to track your progress. Scoring yourself allows you to evaluate whether you’re improving or have succeeded. 

TITLE: The Success Principles
AUTHOR: Jack Canfield
TIME: 90
READS: 118.1
BOOK_SUMMARYURL: the-success-principles-summary-jack-canfield

The 5 Characteristics of Effective Goals

Now that you know the key areas of life to set goals in, let’s talk about how to go about setting effective goals. According to Brian Tracy, the author of Goals!, an effective goal has four characteristics: 

1) It Is Specific and Quantifiable 

Having specific and quantifiable goals allows you to measure your progress. However, being too specific can be detrimental—when you aim for a particular number, missing the mark even slightly can make you feel like you failed. To stay motivated and expand your definition of success, try setting range goals instead of single-number targets. For example, instead of making your goal to “save $5,000 this year,” make it to “save $4,000 to $6,000 this year.”

2) It Is Challenging 

Your goals should push you out of your comfort zone. Challenging goals, also called “stretch goals”, are good because they motivate you to work harder. However, you might feel discouraged if the goals are too challenging. Research suggests that range goals have the added advantage of striking a good balance between being challenging and being attainable. 

3) It Is Time-Constrained 

Deadlines give you a sense of urgency and prompt you to act. It’s okay if you don’t meet them—they aren’t set in stone, and you can just keep setting new deadlines until you reach your goals. What matters is that you have a target to aim for. 

4) It Is Aligned With Your Values and With Each Other

Set goals that are true to who you are. If your goals aren’t aligned with your values, you’ll end up feeling unfulfilled. Furthermore, if they aren’t aligned with each other, you’ll end up sabotaging yourself. 

For example, one of your goals might be to build a successful business, while another goal might be to have plenty of free time to pursue your hobbies. Since these two are at odds with each other—building a business requires your time—you’ll find it impossible to accomplish both.


Final Words

Having goals is important because knowing what you want keeps you from wandering aimlessly—when you know where you’re going, you can move forward purposefully and decisively. To live a balanced life, you should set goals for all the most important areas of your life such as your career, your finances, and your relationships.

The 3 Major Areas of Life to Set Goals In 

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Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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