Setting More Balanced Goals

There’s a lot of advice online about setting goals. In fact, I’ve offered my own share of it. But while just setting some goals you care about naturally generates improvement in your level of productivity and success, goals work even better when you establish a balanced package of work and life targets reflecting a set of diverse considerations.

These considerations include:

  • Money and financial stability
  • Personal and professional growth
  • Personal and professional relationships
  • Other issues of importance to you.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these considerations:

Money and Financial Stability

I don’t have to tell you that in this culture, money plays a huge role. The bad news is that, once you have enough money that you’re eating regularly and keeping a roof over your head, having more money generally won’t make you happier.

Nevertheless, extra money will buy you free time, career and professional flexibility, plus additional resources and influence.

The good news is that, if you have enough money, you can eliminate some basic worries. Even better, you can also:

  • Start your own business,
  • Experiment with different goal-seeking strategies and tactics until you find some that work well for you,
  • Get more of the help you want from others,
  • Even support causes that are important to you.

For these and other reasons, it’s extremely helpful to include financial stability as one of the considerations around which you develop your goals.

Personal and Professional Growth

In some ways, your inner life is like a shark: if it doesn’t keep moving forward, it begins to die. Experience shows that people who allow themselves to stop growing often lose interest in the people and the activities they once enjoyed.

For this reason, setting yourself some goals for both personal and professional growth will keep you interested in life. You’ll continually feel eager to get out of bed each morning and tackle whatever opportunities or challenges you have lined up for yourself. Your daily life will feel zestier, and you’ll feel happier in ways that money just cannot buy.

What’s more, the benefits of continuing growth are very broadly diffused. People benefit in a great many ways from efforts to gain more knowledge – of any kind – and to develop what is commonly called wisdom.

Valuable knowledge can be acquired from many sources, including: books, experience, interpersonal connections, introspection, and so forth. Even the mundane give-and-take of daily life can offer nuggets of new information and knowledge, provided you open yourself to observing and thinking about what goes on around you.

Wisdom often comes with age, but it comes faster if you:

  • Maintain a level of humility
  • Learn from your mistakes.
  • Think about consequences before you take any action
  • Try to act on the basis of your basic, long-term values, rather than your immediate opportunity to gain some short-term benefit

Personal and Professional Relationships

For whatever reasons, we are hard-wired to need and seek out relationships. Psychological studies show that, as people get older, they tend more toward the feeling that relationships are the most important thing in their lives, and people with many strong relationships report more satisfaction with their lives than people with fewer and weaker ones.

That’s why it’s important to include in your set of goals some efforts to find people you care about and to cultivate meaningful, long-lasting relationships with them.

Other Issues of Importance to You

Since each of us is somewhat different from other people, it’s important that you include in your balanced package of goals at least a few that reflect and bring you closer to accomplishments you feel are important. These can include any selection or combination of:

  • Efforts to make the world a better place
  • Efforts to support one or more deserving persons and/or causes
  • Participation in new experiences and/or travel to new places
  • Personal health and well-being
  • Personal enjoyment
  • Spiritual goals

and so forth.

The point of all this talk of a balanced package of goals is simple: to help you avoid the ponderous and one-sided nature of people whose work and life is organized too narrowly. Diversity and balance in your package of goals will help ensure that you do not fall into any of the traps that tend to beset people who work and live for too many years with blinkers on, instead of with a wide-angle view toward the vast array of possibilities that lie ahead. 

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